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Choosing a coach

Finding the right coach is an essential part of developing as a rider, driver or vaulter. Below, we've compiled a list of questions to think about when you're trying to find the coach to help you at this stage of your equestrian journey, and to achieve your ambitions and enjoy a lifelong love of horses and our sport.

Are they qualified?

This is a very important question to ask. The process coaches go through to become qualified ensures their knowledge and practice meets the appropriate standard to look after you and your horse.

There are three main options for coaches to become qualified in our sport – British Horse Society, Riding for the Disabled Association and Equestrian Coaching Certificate/Scottish Coaching Certificate. Each provides coaches with different learning and assessment methods to become qualified. Coaches need a minimum of a BHS Stage 3 Coach qualification, a Coaching Certificate Level 2 qualification or an RDA Coach qualification to be able to coach independently. The RDA qualification is just for RDA environments with RDA participants.

You can find more information about the qualifications your coach might have here.

Are they approved by a British Equestrian member body?

Choosing a coach who's recognised, accredited or approved by a British Equestrian member body is a good way of ensuring they has the necessary qualifications and compliance in place, and that their coaching practice is of a high standard.

Many of our member bodies have their own accreditation or approval scheme, so visit your disciplne's website or use the links below to find a coach who specialises in your chosen disicpline.

The British Horse Society (BHS) also accredits coaches from all member bodies and disciplines through their Accredited Professional Coaches programme, so can be a good place to start your search.

In Scotland, horsescotland also has a programme for accrediting coaches from across the member bodies. You can find their accredited coaches here or via the horsescotland app.

Where are they going to coach me? What facilities do i need?

The facilities you need for coaching will depend on a number of factors, including whether you have your own horse or need to hire one, the stage of development of the horse you’d be using, your own stage of development and your personal ambitions. 

If you're new to equestrian sport, or don't have access to your own horse, consider choosing a coach who's associated with a riding centre –they should have access to a range of horses and ponies, one of which should hopefully suit you.

Some freelance coaches will base themselves at specific venues, or use them for regular or semi-regular coaching clinics or blocks of lessons. This can be a good option if your yard lacks an arena or designated riding area. 

When you call the coach to book a lesson, make sure to discuss your individual needs and what facilities you have available. 

Does their coaching style and expertise match my level of riding? Will they be able to help me meet my goals for the future? 

Many coaches work with participants across the range of ages and stages of development, but not all coaches have the expertise and coaching style to coach everyone from beginner to professional.

Not everyone absorbs information and learns in the same way, so it’s important to think about how you like to learn and find a coach who's in tune with you. Try asking equestrian friends for recommendations, or see if a coach you're interested in is holding a clinic nearby that you can go along to watch.

Your learning needs will change as you develop as a participant, so it’s important to find a coach that meets your needs. Think about your riding goals and aspirations, and choose a coach who is has the methods and the expertise to help you to achieve them.

Are they insured? 

You wouldn’t get in a car without insurance, so why would you agree to be coached without it? Freelance coaches should have their own insurance to practice or, if you are using coaches at a yard or riding centre, the facility should have insurance.

Ask to see a copy of their current insurance certificate, which they should be happy to provide for you. Check and make sure the cover matches the activity they are coaching you for, and where they are coaching you. 

You might also have your own insurance through membership of one of our member bodies, but that doesn’t mean your coach doesn’t need insurance, too.

What about first aid, safeguarding and DBS checks? 

Practicing coaches should be up to date with their first aid qualification, have an up-to-date safeguarding certificate, and a disclosure and barring service (DBS) check. Together, these are sometimes referred to as ‘compliance’ and are essential to practice.

  • For first aid, coaches may hold an equine-specific qualification from BHS, a one-day Emergency First Aid qualification, a two-day BHS Initial First Aid qualification, or a three-day First Aid at Work qualification.
  • For safeguarding, coaches should have completed either the British Equestrian Safeguarding course or the UK Coaching Safeguarding and Protecting Children course. You can find out more about our safeguarding work, reporting procedures and the measures we have in place here.
  • The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check used to be called a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check. The checks ensure people don’t have a conviction that prevents them from particular types of work or roles. Once a check has been completed for a coach, they will receive a certificate from the service.  You can find out more about this service here.

We also have advice for parents and carers about what to expect in terms of safeguarding, what you can do, what to watch out for, the mental health and wellbeing of all involved in our sport, and our commitment to you.