Few students chose riding as a specialist subject in GCSE physical education despite it having been available for the past five years

Few secondary school pupils are choosing riding as a coursework option of their physical education GCSE, according to the Oxford and Cambridge board (OCR), one of the three major examining boards in England.

The equestrian option has been available for the past five years but on average only 100 pupils choose it each year.

“The equestrian option is only suitable for someone who is already quite interested in riding. In state schools the rider would have to make his or her own arrangements regarding a horse and tuition”, said an OCR spokesman.

To study for the GCSE in physical education, the student has to select four practical activities from at least three of the six available categories: swimming, games, gymnastics, dance, athletics and outdoor sports. Riding is one of the options in the outdoor sports category.

What the riding option involves

To gain maximum marks the student must be an experienced and capable rider. To achieve an A or A star, the syllabus states: “A candidate will be able to demonstrate an ability to ride to a very good standard showing strong impulsion from his/her legs and is well balanced and deep-seated throughout.

“The candidate is able to show very good control in performing riding figures in walk, trot and canter, quarter pirouettes, rein back, turns on forehand and competence in jumping a variety of jumps (up to 3ft 6in) and in good style.”

Riders will also have to analyse techniques in fine detail and make informed suggestions on how performance may be improved, as well as planning and evaluating a safe exercise programme and various aspects of nutrition.

A British Horse Society instructor has to assess and mark the riding practical, using the syllabus as a guide. A video must be produced, about 20 minutes in length, showing the rider perform a variety of movements, including jumping. The rider must also submit an evaluation of someone elses riding.

For further information on the riding option of GCSE PE visit www.ocr.org.uk