How to become a Horse Riding Instructor. Read through our comprehensive job guide to learn more about this career.
What does a Horse Riding Instructor do?
Horse riding instructors teach people of all ages, levels of ability and experience to ride.
Your work as an instructor could involve:
- teaching people who want to ride as a leisure activity
- helping individual riders or teams to prepare for competitions like show jumping, eventing or dressage
- developing training programmes suited to individual riders
- giving practical demonstrations
- observing riders in order to spot and help correct problems
- making sure training is carried out safely.
You may also teach assistant instructors and supervise work in the stable. In some jobs you could combine instructing with working as a groom.
Your working hours could be long and irregular, including weekends and evenings. Part-time work may be possible.
You would usually work outdoors, in all weather conditions, although larger riding schools may also have indoor facilities. Some work may be seasonal.
Your work may involve travelling with riders to competitions, which at the highest levels may be abroad. If you are freelance, you will need to travel between riding schools.
In some jobs you may have to live in at the riding school.
How much does a Horse Riding Instructor earn?
- Starting salaries for trainee and assistant instructors can be between £15,000 and £18,000 a year.
- Experienced instructors can earn up to £28,000.
Rates of pay depend upon the size of the centre, qualifications, and whether accommodation, meals and further training are part of the salary. As a self-employed instructor your earnings would depend on experience, success in attracting business and the number of hours you work.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
Employers will usually expect you to have qualifications from the British Horse Society (BHS) or Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS). To gain the qualifications, you will need to complete training which will give you the skills and knowledge needed to pass the BHS or ABRS exams.
BHS qualifications for instructors are:
- BHS Preliminary Teaching Test
- Assistant Instructor Certificate (BHSAI)
- Intermediate Instructor Certificate (BHSII)
- BHS Instructor’s Certificate (BHSI)
- Fellowship of the BHS.
To take the BHS exams you must be a member of the BHS.
ABRS exams are practical and do not involve written papers. You do not need to be a member of the ABRS to take the exams, which include:
- ABRS Initial Teaching Award
- ABRS Teaching Certificate.
Visit the BHS and ABRS websites for full details of their respective qualifications.
You can train for the qualifications in several ways:
- on an Apprenticeship scheme
- attending a college course
- as a fee-paying student at a riding school (fees tend to be high)
- through private study and distance learning programmes if you are in a relevant job.
You can complete other specialist instructor awards through organisations such as the Pony Club and the British Driving Society. To work with people with disabilities, you need a Riding for the Disabled Association Instructors’ Certificate.
If you will be working with children, young people or other vulnerable groups of people you will need Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) clearance.
- Criminal Records Bureau
You may be able to get into this job through an Apprenticeship scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. To find out more about Apprenticeships, visit the Apprenticeships website.
Training and Development
Once you are qualified as an instructor there are several options for developing your career.
You can complete equine-related foundation degrees and degrees at a number of universities and colleges. These are not needed for working as a riding instructor, but could be useful if you want to progress into management.
To search for foundation degrees and degrees, see the UCAS website. You should check entry requirements with individual colleges or universities.
If you have qualified with the BHS, you can join the BHS Register of Instructors. You can also apply for an International Equestrian Trainers Passport. Visit the International Group for Equestrian Qualifications website to find out more about this.
The ABRS offers:
- ABRS Advanced Teaching Diploma
- ABRS Principals Diploma – you must have been a riding school owner or principal for over five years.
Visit the ABRS website to find out more about the qualifications.
Skills and Knowledge
- good horse riding skills
- patience with riders of all abilities
- the ability to communicate well with all age groups
- the ability to motivate and encourage people
- first aid skills
- the ability to remain calm under pressure
- business and clerical skills if self-employed.
You could work as a horse riding instructor in riding schools, competition yards, private stables and agricultural or equine college stables. Trekking centres, riding holiday centres and the Pony Club may also offer seasonal work.
As a fully qualified instructor, you could become a head or senior instructor at a riding school, or a competition judge. You may have the opportunity to work abroad – the International Equestrian Trainers Passport is recognised by 27 countries.
With experience as an instructor you could become self-employed and possibly work on a freelance basis for several centres. Another option would be to run your own riding school.