Q: I am contemplating a move to France to set up a yard offering riding holidays and training, but don’t know where to start. I am qualified to BHSII standard, but am worried this won’t be recognised in France. I also wish to employ local staff, but am unsure what qualifications to look for in instructors or ride leaders. Is there anywhere I can go for advice? Should I take a European-wide qualification?
AD, Yorkshire

This is a complicated question and it would be sensible to take specific legal advice. As with any new business, do research the relevant country’s licensing, employment and business regulations.

A British Horse Society (BHS) representative explains: “The International Group for Equestrian Qualifications (IGEQ) was set up in order to recognise and equate equestrian coaching qualifications internationally. The IGEQ has drawn up a matrix, of which there are three levels — the BHSII is recognised as International Level Two.”

If you are looking for qualifications to use within the tourism industry, the British Equestrian Tourism (BET) qualifications are recognised by the International Federation of Equestrian Tourism (FITE).

“French equestrian qualifications are regulated by the French government, and this has led to issues with the recognition of other countries’ qualifications,” the representative continues. “Contact the French Equestrian Federation to discuss this.

“The BHS is working closely with the French Equestrian Federation to remove obstacles that have been encountered by some people moving to France. I suggest you contact Olivia Gann (email: o.gann@bhs.org.uk) for further information about the IGEQ, which is administered by the Register of Instructors.”

We also asked Jeffrey Quirk, who moved to south-west France seven years ago to run Château Sombrun, a livery yard and holiday facility, for advice.

“Most areas have their own federation, which is affiliated to the French Equestrian Federation; based on my experience, their president will be more than helpful,” Jeffrey says.

“In addition to BHS qualifications, there are recognised French qualifications for the equivalent of horse management, ride leader etc — get the information from the French Equestrian Federation’s website.

“If you intend to affiliate to the Gîtes de France, they will also give you their requirements. The Gîtes de France label awards accommodation with one to five ears of corn, like a star rating, and ensures properties are correctly insured.”

Information

• British Horse Society www.bhs.org.uk

• French Equestrian Federation www.ffe.com

This Q&A was first published in Horse & Hound (16 October, ’08)