A government funded sports performance programme — already used for other mainstream sports — will soon be available to talented riders looking to perform at the highest level.

Hartpury College in Gloucestershire will be offering the Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE) from this September, to riders aged 16-19.

The course will be run in conjunction with British Dressage (BD), British Eventing (BE) and the British Equestrian Federation (BEF), with discipline specific programmes for dressage, para dressage and eventing.

Apprentices will combine their riding with units aimed at preparing them for all aspects of life in a professional sport.

“This is a great new initiative for [people] who are driven to become the elite riders of tomorrow,” said BD’s Jo Brown.

“AASE provides a great way to combine a focus on a competitive dressage career with the opportunity to learn all the additional skills which make athletes successful.”

Chris Farr from BE added: “The ability to combine academic study with the development of high performance sport tuition has been a resounding success in other sports.

“Now is the perfect opportunity for equestrian athletes to take up this fantastic opportunity.”

Riders must meet specific criteria set by BD and BE to be considered for the initiative, and those who are selected will have the choice of completing the course at Hartpury or at home. Candidates will be able to study A Levels alongside the apprenticeship.

For more information visit www.hartpury.ac.uk