The British Horse Society (BHS) has rebranded and relaunched its training exams, to offer greater flexibility and a more practical assessment process.

Relevant skills

The BHS qualifications are recognised around the world, but after more than 30 years of training equestrians of all levels, it was decided they needed a modern makeover.

The Equine Excellence Pathway offers a comprehensive learning platform across a range of careers, from grooming to working in equine tourism. It is hoped the new exams will ensure students gain relevant skills that will make them more employable in today’s equine industry.

What’s in a name?

Changes include more flexibility, so you no longer have to jump from stage three upwards (which will come as a relief to dressage riders), and the first few stages of the qualifications are 100% practical, which means no written work. In addition, the three levels of coaches are being renamed to make them more accessible, although Fellow stays the same:

BHS Stage 3 Coach replaces the BHSAI
BHS Stage 4 Senior Coach replaces the BHSII
BHS Stage 5 Performance Coach replaces the BHSI

Ride Safe Award

A key part of the Equine Excellence Pathway is the Ride Safe Award, which has been launched in response to the 29% increase in accidents involving horses in the last year.

The Ride Safe Award replaces the BHS Riding & Road Safety Test and is vital for all riders. Ride Safe is the equivalent of the cycling industries Bikeablity certificate, and has been endorsed by the Department for Transport’s Think campaign, which helps vulnerable road users.

The award doesn’t just focus on riding on the road, however, it gives you the confidence to ride safely in a variety of environments, including bridleways, arenas, warming up at competitions and even on beaches.

As well as offering practical advice and tips to leisure riders, the Ride Safe Award is an essential foundation for anyone who wants to follow the Equine Excellence Pathway.

All abilities and ages

To officially launch both the Equine Excellence Pathway and Ride Safe Award, sports presenter Lizzie Greenwood-Hughes and 18-year-old international dressage champion Phoebe Peters took part in a Ride Safe demonstration at Wellington Riding.

BHS Fellow Yogi Breisner was also there to take Phoebe through a coaching session to highlight the importance of using a qualified coach.

BHS director of safety, Alan Hiscox said: “Ride Safe is the foundation of the new BHS Equine Excellence Pathway, aimed at all riders, of any age and ability. Just like the Bikeablity certificate, we want to encourage all horse riders to take the award before they go out on the road.”

To find out more about the new BHS education system, visit