BHS Stage 1 - advice please.(17 Posts)
I'm just wondering if anyone can tell me, how old you have to be to take the BHS Stage 1 exam, please?
We have our horses at home, so it's something we'd have to arrange ourselves for our DD, rather than her just joining in with a course running at the local stables, I think.
OH is a BHS accredited coach, so I imagine could get her through the training, and possibly assess her, though I realise I could be wrong about that, and perhaps her formal training and assessments have to take place at an accredited BHS yard, which we aren't (yet).
Dd took hers last year when she was 15 - the hardest part was finding an exam day during the holidays, she’d actually finished the course the previous year but hadn’t managed to get onto a course which was a) near enough and b) not on a school day. In the end we asked her school for permission to miss a day towards the end of term.
According to the BHS website , candidates have to be at least 13. The format of the assessment has changed and you now need to have got the Ride Safe certificate first before you can get the full stage 1 certificate.
Your OH definitely wouldn’t be able to assess her - that’s a formal process organised for several candidates at a time (and it’s not cheap either...)
There's lots of info on the bhs website. You don't have to do a course but I think they have changed the format quite a bit and you might have to have some things signed off in a record book as prerequisites. Not sure if a family member could do this or not. I would recommend riding some horses other than her own as practice because those candidates who owned their own were sometimes less confident at this. There are also other routes into the higher qualifications, such as the challenge awards etc which are worth investigating.
Well done to your DD, Pleasedontdothat ! Is she working towards Stage 2?
That's a good point about getting experience on other horses, I wouldn't have thought of that. She has ridden others, but not much, so that's definitely something we need to arrange.
I've had a look on the BHS website today, and there's a workbook I can buy that she can be working through, so that when she's 13, if she still wants to do it, she would hopefully be in a position to be able to register and take the exams.
Didn't realise till today that she needs to be a BHS Gold Member to enter the exams! The costs just keep on coming!
It’s definitely not cheap!! Junior gold membership isn’t too bad though (I think it’s £50 per year). The actual riding for stage 1 is pretty basic so if your dd is a confident rider that shouldn’t cause her any problems. My dd’s switched over to Pony Club tests for now as she could skip straight to C+ which is a lot cheaper than doing Stage 2, and she can do it on her own horse. She’ll probably pick up BHS exams again for her Stage 3 - her instructor is a BHS coach so she’s got access to both systems
The hardest part about stage 1 in my opinion is that you do it on riding school horses/ponies at the centre; a subtle touch is rarely enough to get them to canter for example. If her own pony is well schooled this will come as quite a shock. You need plenty of practice in the art of being “highly effective” before you do it so as to get the best out of whatever horse you are given on the day.
By the time you get to stage 3 the centre will be using its best schooled horses for the exam but even so very few centres have 8-10 horses which are a doddle to ride; the ability to adapt is key.
You can have lessons at the exam centre beforehand, it's only higher up you can't have trained there in the 3 months prior to the exam I think. The horses for stage 1 should be their absolute safest as the standard of riders at stage 1 varies wildly.
Join Pony Club and do the tests up to B then skip to stage 3?
Thanks for this advice.
If her own pony is well schooled this will come as quite a shock. You need plenty of practice in the art of being “highly effective” before you do it so as to get the best out of whatever horse you are given on the day.
She is very well schooled now, but that's DD and OH's doing, rather than us getting her a pony that was a schoolmaster, iyswim.
Pleasedontdothat so am I right in thinking that you are able to skip from Stage 1 to Stage 3, without completing Stage 2, in theory? That sounds more cost effective. The Pony Club awards sound like a good idea. We are waiting till September for her to join Pony Club, so will consider that.
Do you mind me asking how much it costs to do the Pony Club awards?
I can see me having to pay for her to have a few lessons on random ponies at a riding school, or pay for OH to be able to teach her on some riding school ponies, as riding my friend's won't be enough by the sound of it.
Is that what other people have done?
C+ costs about £50
B costs about £100
this explains how the 2 systems work with each other:
at pony club you may well get opportunities to ride other horses and ponies too
Thanks CaptainClover that's great advice. I think that's what we'll do.
Good advice above - if you can the very best thing to do is take her for a few lessons at the actual centre where she'll take the exam. She can then get a feel for the place so she will know her way around on the day, and if you tell them she's going to take her exam there they can put her up on the horses they tend to use for the exams so they are familiar too. But any riding school would be good practice for stage 1 really, she just needs to be able to get a sluggish school horse around in walk trot and canter safely, no correct outline or anything is required.
The one tip I would give for passing horsey exams, particularly the lower levels ones, is practice doing the practical stuff the 'correct way'. At the lower levels the practical tasks are very easy (e.g. tack up/ untack, rugs on/rugs off, boots on/boots off, skip out etc.), all stuff she will do every day if she has her own horse. But it's easy to slip up if just treating the exam as everyday working with her own/a 'known' horse, as the exam standards are designed for maximum safety when working with an unknown horse. So e.g. I always work around my mare not tied up in her stable to skip out, tack up etc., and I just sling her rug on any old how, as I suspect most people do. But you'll fail an exam for doing that as it wouldn't be up to BHS standard - horse should be securely tied up, rug should be folded and lowered on gently in case of spooks etc etc. She'll need a bit of coaching and practice to remember to do this!
That’s really good advice from maxelly - dd would definitely have failed if she did things the way she normally does with her own horse. She had to practise the ‘BHS’ way of doing things beforehand so that she didn’t slip back into her normal habits on the day.
maxelly and pleasedontdothat thank you - brilliant advice. Yes she definitely does need practice doing things the BHS way!
I've recently done my stage 1 complete horsemanship and stage 2 care/lunge exam (stage 2 ride is next to do as I couldn't do it at the same time as I hadn't sat the ridesafe exam at that point)
The workbooks are very helpful, as are the dvds for the old exams just to see the difference in riding levels. I also got the Hazel Reed books which I really liked, alongside the BHS Complete Horsemanship books.
The riding for Stage 1 is very straightforward but yes, practicing on the ponies at your nearest exam centre would be a good idea - you're allowed to train at the same place you'd take the exam now which is really helpful. Care wise, being able to answer questions clearly and confidently is essential, and it's things like not ducking under necks to change sides but unclipping the leadrope and reclipping that need done at home to get them in her head. The 'bhs way' is definitely less strict/old school now, and they just want to see safe, workmanlike practice from candidates. The examiners really want people to pass at this level, and aren't scary at all! Good luck to her when the time comes
Thanks Richtea that's good to know. Well done on passing your exams.
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