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What's the difference between BHS approved and ABRS approved?

13 replies

Offcolour · 29/08/2013 14:21

I'm just getting back into riding after a very long break and I was never very good in the first place. I'm booked in for a first lesson with a school that I like the sound of, but it's ABRS approved but not BHS approved. Is this something to worry about? I want to learn enough to get good enough to go hacking and generally just enjoy riding at a basic level, a bit of jumping, hacking etc, but lessons are so expensive that I want to make sure I'm getting quality instruction. TIA!

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PoshPenny · 29/08/2013 15:29

well one is British horse society, the other is assoc of British riding schools. Is the place fairly clean and tidy or does it look a right old tip? how do the horses look? I'd be inclined to give it a go if first impressions are favourable and see how the lessons go. You can always go elsewhere if its not the place for you. the quality of the teaching is not necessarily anything to do with the number of letters after the instructors name, but they might explain things in the perfect way for you. Good luck

Offcolour · 29/08/2013 15:51

Thanks. I'm attracted to it as they seem quite relaxed and are happy to be flexible, you can ride as often or infrequently as you want and there's no pressure to block book etc which is great as with 2 under 4 I don't have much time or cash for riding. Also I want a small friendly place where I'll feel comfortable - the big school I went to as a kid intimated me a lot though it has a great reputation. I'm never going to compete or anything, just want to have fun and improve so I can jump again and mybe try galloping (!!).

I'm so excited having had a couple of rides on holiday and I just can't wait for my first lesson! Just don't want to waste time/money at the wrong school as I will have limited time to ride.

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Offcolour · 29/08/2013 15:54

Sorry for typos, on phone and trying to stop 8 mo ds from getting into mischief!

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roadkillbunny · 29/08/2013 21:35

The riding school I do some work for us both BHS approved and ABRS approved.
In our case the BHS approval is worth nothing, the owner is old chums with the BHS man and he never does anything but a cursory look about the place once a year, doesn't check lessons or speak to any one who works there. I am 100% sure this is not the norm mind!
For us the ARBS inspections and requirements for continued approval as a school and test centre are much more rigorous, the combine with the local councils annual inspection for licence and look at everything, full lesson plans, records to show how many hours each horse works a day, stables, paddocks, fencing, vet records... Much much more!
So certainly don't think that ABRS is any lessor to BHS because its not, many schools like us are joint approved and for the type of riding you are looking at you should be absolutely fine (although not all schools are created equal and not every school will suit every rider).
The biggest differences are with level of instructor qualification and riding and equitation tests.
ABRS instructors are not quite as highly and rigorously qualified as BHSAI (etc) instructors but they are absolutely fully qualified for teaching leisure riding to a high standard.
When it comes to test both for children and adults again you will find that the BHS tests are harder to pass and go up to a higher level over all however the ABRS tests, especially for young children and novice adults are, IMO, more accessible, there are more ABRS test to take with smaller increments of progression between tests and these test I think are great for riding school users as they give goals to work towards with your riding, something to keep things fresh and give purpose, sometimes it can be hard if you are for example having a once a week group lesson to maintain.
If you are looking to really move forward with riding, looking for a career in horses or looking to become an owner then the BHS tests are more up that street, they go more into the management of horses from an owners perspective and in riding they do go to a higher level.
BHS tests are far more recognised within the horsey world when it comes to qualifications.

I hope you have a great time getting back into horses and the riding school is everything it seems to be, good luck and happy riding!

Offcolour · 30/08/2013 07:09

Thanks roadkillbunny, that really helps and puts my mind at rest! I've been really looking forward to my lesson but have just had a nagging worry since I noticed they weren't bhs approved. Now I can just be excited! It's ridiculous, I'm actually counting the enjoyed my riding on holiday Grin.

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Booboostoo · 30/08/2013 08:57

Do the horses look in good nick? Are they clean (when ridden), with well fitting tack, feet well looked after, good weight, with water in the stables, and good fields (enough land for everyone to get turned out, grass or hay, suitable fencing)?

The only other thing I would look at is their attitude towards safety. Do they have a suitable arena to ride in? Do they have insurance? Have they discussed the risks of riding with you? Have they checked you have/provided you with suitable footwear, hat, etc.? Do they do a lot of novice adult lessons so that they have a choice of suitable horses for you?

Offcolour · 30/08/2013 09:21

Hi booboo, thanks for your comments, I haven't even yet but I will bear your points in mind the first lesson. If the horses looked in poor condition I definitely would go elsewhere.

I think they do quite a lot of adult lessons so hopefully a choice of horses won't be a problem. The website says there's a wide range of horses for adults and children and there are two arenas. They have a range of hats to borrow and some boots, but i'm going to get my own boots anyway. I assume it's properly insured as its abrs approved...

From what I can tell without visiting it seems positive, I guess I'll get a proper feel on the first visit.

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Booboostoo · 30/08/2013 14:45

Sounds like a decent place, and I think you'll be able to tell once you see the yard and horses.

Have fun!

SlowlorisIncognito · 31/08/2013 19:49

As they have recognition from ABRS, they should be a good centre. I believe the main difference is that the BHS have very specific rules about who can escort hacks, teach lessons etc, using their own exam system. The ABRS does obviously have rules about this, but they are willing to accept non-BHS qualifications. I assume there are other minor differences too. If you are uncertain, why not ask the owner or your instructor why they haven't gone for BHS accreditiation.

The only disadvantage of it not being a BHS school is that at most BHS schools you can work towards BHS stage one by doing progressive tests, and often work towards higher level exams too. As a leisure rider, this isn't something you're likely to be concerned with.

Offcolour · 16/09/2013 09:02

Hi, quick update, I've finally had my first lesson and I think I will stick with this stables. The yard is a bit scruffy but seems pretty clean and they are friendly.

I rode horribly, couldn't seem to steer at all in trot (I was hanging onto the horse's mouth and making it stop to begin with) which was really frustrating because I'd waited ages to ride and was really looking forward to it, but the instructor got me trotting without reins which reminded me I didn't need to hang on! We also did trotting without stirrups.

I learnt stuff I'd never done before (like which thigh muscles I needed to engage to grip) and my tummy muscles really hurt afterwards which has never happened before - I guess this is because I haven't used them properly before when riding. I've realised just how much I have to learn and I think I'm going to have to go right back to basics because I can't seem to remember even how to hold the reins and steer properly, but I feel that I will get proper instruction here. It's odd because when I rode on holiday I was happily trotting in circles, changing the rein and staying in the track fine but I just couldn't seem to get to grips with steering this horse. It was a shorter lesson and we went to trotting pretty quickly so I didn't have time to just remember how to ride like I did last time. Hopefully it'll come back quicker next time! The instructor suggested continuing private lessons on the same horse to build confidence and a bond with the horse and encouraged me to take the horse out to the field which I hadn't done before.

I just want to get on again and do it properly but I have to wait 2 weeks till next lesson as I'm only going every other week due to ££s and time.... Sad.

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Booboostoo · 19/09/2013 13:47

Glad you had a good lesson! Being in pain afterwards means you worked the right muscles so it's a good sign...even though it does hurt a lot! Ridding without reins/stirrups is the way to go to get your balance back.

carabos · 19/09/2013 17:36

I learnt stuff I'd never done before (like which thigh muscles I needed to engage to grip)

And right there is the problem.
You don't grip with anything. If someone is telling you to grip, then you need to stop having lessons with them. Riding is about balance, not gripping.

I'd be asking some very searching questions about the instructor's qualifications and riding experience.

Sorry to rain on your parade.

Offcolour · 19/09/2013 18:09

Hi carabos,
She wasn't telling me to grip with my knees, in fact she was telling me not to grip with my knees. She said you engage the muscle at the very top of your inner thigh (not the one that goes down to your knee) against the saddle and your tummy muscles. I don't know if that makes any difference...?

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