Professional carriage drivers now have the chance to achieve a nationally recognised, professional qualification.

The Foundation Certificate in Commercial Harness Horse Driving has been launched by the British Driving Society (BDS) in conjunction with Plumpton College, Sussex.

The course is tailored for professionals in the carriage-driving sector who want to endorse their skills with a qualification.

“There has been a rise of horse-drawn passenger-carrying services, for weddings and funerals and such,” Stephanie Evans, secretary for British Driving Society awards board, told H&H.

“There is an obvious need for a professional qualification to support the sector.”

Stephanie said the Rural Employer Engagement Development Network (REEDNet) is helping to fund the course.

“This is the first major national funding that the BDS has ever had,” she said.

“We are hoping that people take advantage of this golden opportunity to have their skills recognised by national bodies.”

The course is held across two and four day blocks throughout the year. It is composed of three modules, which focus on practical driving, equine nutrition, training and injuries, and business marketing and accounts.

“There have been some accidents within the sector, where unsuitable horses have been used for horse-drawn events,” said Brenda Smith, a lecturer at Plumpton College and co-ordinator of the course, “and it was deemed necessary to introduce a qualification.

“We have had a very good uptake so far, and we hope to have 25 students in the pilot course, which is due to start this January.”