Riding instructors teach people to ride horses. They work with a wide variety of people, including children, people with learning support needs and people with disabilities.
You could be:
- working with students one at a time or in groups
- showing beginners how to get on a horse and how to control it
- improving the riding techniques of more experienced learners
- leading groups of riders on treks
- coaching advanced riders and helping them prepare for races or show jumping events
- teaching riders how to care for horses and how to look after equipment
- making sure horses are fed, watered, groomed and exercised, and that stables are mucked out (cleaned)
- breaking in horses and training them
- carrying out other duties, such as planning riding lessons, supervising staff, ordering supplies and keeping accounts.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
- where you work
- the size of company or organisation you work for
- the demand for the job.
Salaries for riding instructors in the UK vary, but tend to be in the region of £12,000 to £18,000 as an assistant instructor rising to between £25,000 and £30,000 as a fully qualified and experienced instructor. Pay rates will vary according to which qualifications you hold, and whether accommodation and meals are included.
Some riding instructors are self-employed. Their income depends on how much business they attract.
- You could work for a riding school, a trekking centre, private stables or centres offering riding holidays.
- Working hours can be long, including early starts, late finishes and weekends.
- The work is mostly outdoors and takes place in all sorts of weather.
- Some work might be in an indoor training centre.
- The conditions can be dirty, muddy and smelly, especially when mucking out stables.
- There is a risk of injury if a horse bites or kicks you or if you fall off.
- There might be less work in winter and some jobs are therefore seasonal.
- You might have to live at the riding school, trekking centre or stables.
- You would usually wear specific riding clothing, such as jodhpurs, boots and a hard riding hat.
Workforce Employment Status
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- Most employers expect you to have relevant qualifications from the British Horse Society (BHS) or the Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS) before you can give lessons.
- Some riding schools run part time courses leading to these qualifications. A good standard of general education is useful for entry.
- You could do a full time college course, which prepares you for the BHS exams, and gain a National Certificate (NC), Higher National Certificate (HNC) or Higher National Diploma (HND).
- You normally need up to 3-4 subjects at National 5 for entry to the NC and 1-2 Highers or British Horse Society Stage 2 for the HNC or HND.
- The British Horse Society now offer a 6 stage coaching pathway. Stage 1 Complete Horsemanship can be taken at 13+ years, and Stage 2 Complete Horsemanship at 17+ years (you can take Stage 2 Ride, Stage 2 Care and Stage 2 Lunge awards at 14 years). For Stage 3 Coach you must have completed the Stage 1 and Stage 2 examinations and be at least 18+ years (you can take Stage 3 Ride, Stage 3 Care and Stage 3 Lunge awards at 16 years). At this point you can join the BHS as an Accredited Coach. You can then progress through Stage 4 Senior Coach, Stage 5 Performance Coach to Stage 6 Fellow.
- The Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS) offers the Initial Teaching Test (ITT), but this isn't currently accredited by a qualification body. Other teaching qualifications are on hold. Updates will be on the ABRS website (see 'Contacts' below).
- You may need a full, clean driving licence.
- You will require a satisfactory criminal record check from Disclosure Scotland to show that you are suitable for this type of work. Contact Disclosure Scotland for details on the type you would need.
Workforce Education Levels (UK)
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Job Outlook Scotland
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Job Outlook Scotland and UK
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What Does it Take?
You need to be:
- able to handle and ride horses well, and enjoy working with them
- able to calm nervous horses
- able to talk to a wide range of people
- pleasant and approachable
- patient and tolerant, when giving lessons or training horses
- good at explaining and demonstrating techniques
- confident and able to take control in an emergency
- willing to do some hard physical work when working with horses and cleaning out stables
- able to work well in a team and alone.
- You can do further training on the job to gain qualifications to teach advanced riding and show jumping.
- You must also have an emergency first aid certificate, a riding and road safety certificate and a safeguarding and protecting children certificate.
- If you have completed BHS Stage 5, you could study for BHS Stage 6 Fellow. This provides Fellowship status, and is the highest level of BHS teaching qualification.
- With experience, you may be able to become a senior or head instructor, first in a small riding school then in a larger stable.
- You could set up and run your own riding school or trekking centre.
- You might be able to ride in competitions.
- It is also possible to become a competition judge or to become a BHS examiner.
- There may be opportunities to work abroad.
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
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