Choosing the right course to establish a career with horses *H&H Plus*

  • Finding employment after education is key. Horse & Hound discovers which of the versatile equine-based courses are most likely to get you a job...

    WHETHER you are a school leaver looking for your next step in education or are on the path towards a new career, you’re not short of choice when it comes to degrees, certificates and diplomas in the equestrian industry.

    “The most versatile courses that colleges run for school leavers are level three diplomas which cover a wide aspect of the equine industry via theory and practical units,” explains Helen Cranfield-Findlay, head of equine at Berkshire College of Agriculture. “Each unit has some practical assessment which is why these qualifications are more recognised by the equine industry.

    “Level three diplomas not only give students an overview of all aspects of the equine industry, they also allow progression directly into a practical role such as groom, vet nurse, working for a governing body, insurance companies, stud hand, equine events organisation and instructor, as many learners sit their British Horse Society exams alongside this qualification.”

    A number do progress to higher education courses such as nutritionist, lecturer, veterinary physiotherapy and business management.

    The Royal Agricultural University (RAU) offers a number of undergraduate equine courses, including BSc (Hons) programmes in applied equine science and business, bloodstock and performance horse management, and international equine and agricultural business management.

    “Graduates in equine subjects develop first-hand appreciation of the business aspects and the day-to-day running of equestrian establishments, gain transferable skills in science and business and complete an industry placement to boost their employability,” says Rachel Jones, interim communications manager at the RAU. “The teaching team has great links and experience working with various elements of the equine industry.”

    The RAU says that all their equine degrees equip graduates with the skills and contacts required to succeed in the equestrian sector.

    “Recent graduates have taken up roles as bloodstock agents, yard managers, bloodstock account managers, research scientists and marketing and communications assistants to name but a few, working with employers that include Highclere Stud, Lingfield Equine Vets, King Power Racing, Newbury Racecourse, Racing Post, NFU Mutual, the Racecourse Association and Plusvital-Equinome,” says Rachel.

    Working in racing

    IF racing is your area of interest, the National Stud diploma is a comprehensive introduction to a career in the thoroughbred bloodstock industry.

    “Students work alongside stud staff during the breeding season to hone their practical skills and gain a fuller understanding of all areas of stud work,” explains Anna Kerr of the National Stud. “Regular evening lectures cover everything from veterinary practice and stallion selection to marketing and the business elements of stud management.”
    The National Stud diploma is recognised worldwide throughout the bloodstock industry.

    “Students benefit from our international connections and have regular mentoring sessions to guide them in the next steps in their career,” continues Anna. “In addition to the diploma, students also graduate with a level three certificate in thoroughbred stud practice accredited by 1st4Sport.”

    There are also degree options in the racing industry, such as the BSc in equine science and thoroughbred management at Abingdon and Witney College with Oxford Brookes University.

    “Students take their third year as a placement or a mix of different placements around the world,” says Rose Scofield of Witney College. “This puts them in an excellent position once they have graduated to return to the industry they were involved in, or to gain places on graduate schemes such as Godolphin Flying Start where they have two years in the racehorse industry.

    “We have graduates in many positions with places like Weatherbys and the British Racing School [BRS]. The networking aspect of the placement year also gives students brilliant opportunities to gain employment, such as one who went straight into a career as a bloodstock agent and another who is now working in racing television.”

    Equine physiotherapy

    FOR those with an interest in physiotherapy, The Open College of Equine Studies (TOCES) offers a level five equine sports massage and level six equine physiotherapy diploma which permit graduates to work in the industry.

    “The application of equine manual therapies is of growing interest within the equine industry,” says Yasmin Stuart, equine physiotherapy programme manager. “TOCES offers two equine therapy qualifications which, upon completion, allow graduates to obtain insurance, join voluntary governing bodies and establish their own freelance equine therapy practice working within the guidance of UK Government legislation.”

    The level five diploma in equine sports massage and rehabilitation provides a thorough understanding of equine anatomy and physiology, orthopaedics, and the application of massage therapy skills and rehabilitation techniques, while the level six equine physiotherapy diploma programme encompasses all the above plus an understanding of physical therapies, electro-therapies and rehabilitation strategies used to restore and maintain the horse’s mobility, function and performance.

    Already working in the equine industry, but fancy a change of direction? A new veterinary nursing school, VetPartners Equine Nursing School, was launched in 2019 to ensure equine nurses receive the best-possible training and skills. Applicants must already work at an equine veterinary practice.

    Based at Liphook Equine Hospital in Hampshire, the two-year diploma awards successful students a City & Guilds level three diploma in equine veterinary nursing.

    “They become qualified equine veterinary nurses eligible to register with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons,” explains Joanna Browne, PR and communications manager at VetPartners Ltd.

    “Students benefit from using the facilities at Liphook and visit the veterinary hospital on block release for six weeks each academic year, which enables them to study while continuing to work at their own practice.”

    Coaching and teaching

    THERE are also coaching degrees for people interested in a teaching career, such as the BSc (Hons) in equine performance coaching at Warwickshire College Group.

    “Knowledge of areas such as sports psychology, nutrition, biomechanics, fitness and new technology are vital to coach horse and rider partnerships to fulfil potential and reach peak performance,” says Sarah Winnett, higher education and international marketing officer.

    “This course is suited to students who are keen to study equine to degree level in order to successfully coach horse riders of all levels. While studying students have the opportunity to ride weekly and will also gain a 1st4sport level two certificate in equestrian coaching, helping students to secure their chosen career.”

    For those already with degrees or previous work experience in more administrative, marketing and operational roles, the British Horseracing development programme is a great choice for gaining further experience and developing skills.

    “The programme starts with a free, comprehensive two-week residential introduction course usually held at the BRS in July,” says Zoe Elliott, head of careers marketing and recruitment at the British Horseracing Authority. “It includes speakers, field trips, learning opportunities, personal development and networking. The course gives an insight into many of the organisations and their functions within the industry. Participants then go on to their selected paid placements which are usually eight weeks, but sometimes longer.”

    Equine apprenticeships

    LEARNING on the job means that you get paid while learning a skill, which is a great way to embark on a career.

    “Apprentices have all the rights of an employee, while also being allowed time to learn and train with their employer and their trainer coach,” says Haddon Training marketing executive Kate Arkinstall.

    “Many apprenticeships can be tailored to the specific area of the equine industry that the apprentice wishes to focus on. For example, our equine groom and senior equine groom apprenticeships can be focused around racing, breeding, riding, or non-riding. This allows the learner to hone their skills in the area they wish to progress into. Learners are in a real, working environment and learning practical skills on the job.”

    Emilia Bishop, an apprentice at Judy Harvey Equestrian, says: “The best part of my apprenticeship so far is how much confidence I have gained and the progression in my riding. The apprenticeship really appealed because I knew I would be able to ride more but at the same time gain valuable experience, receive a great qualification and further my knowledge to help me develop my own business in the future.”


    This exclusive feature can also be read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale date 17 June 2021

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