bhs

BHS Ridden Exams - What does it take to pass?

In May this year our two British Horse Society Accredited Coaches, Ross and Lorna attended the two day BHS Conference in Cavan. One of the many talks presented was by Alex Copeland and Tim Downes and centred around how candidates are assessed for ridden examinations and what is required to pass.

The pair explained that the pass criteria varies through the exam structure.

  • At Stage 1 level, all marks (100%) are available for the riding and 70% is required for a pass to be achieved.

  • At Stage 2 level, 80% of the marks are available for the riding and 20% for the oral section. 70% overall is required to pass

  • At Stage 3 level 70% of the marks are available for riding and 30% for the oral section. 70% overall is required to pass.

  • At Stage 4 level, 60% of marks are available for the riding section and 40% for the oral section. 70% overall is required to pass. This means that a candidate cannot pass on their riding alone - they must be able to evaluate and talk.

  • At Stage 5 50% of marks are available for riding and 50% for the oral section. This underlines that the qualification is not just about being able to ride - candidates must be able to evaluate an animals way of going, to explain what they are feeling and have done and to understand how to progress

Alex and Tim also explained that assessors will assess whether a candidate is lacking in skills or if they have skills which are developed in the wrong way. It is more of a concern to see incorrect training and habits (for example a rider thinking they should pull the head in and giving incorrect aids) than to see embryonic skills needing development.

The differences between Stage 1 and Stage 2 riding exams were clarified by the team:

  • The team clarified that at Stage one candidates are required to walk and trot without stirrups where as at Stage two they must also canter.

  • In stage one the light seat is introduced where as in Stage 2 candidates must jump

  • In Stage 2 assessors must gauge how well balanced is the rider and are they effective enough to ride a horse forward to a fence. Sabrina Jones explained that the new skills record which must be signed off by a professional accredited coach before a candidate can attempt their Stage 2 exam has meant that far less candidates are being stopped before the jumping phase.

The team explained that at all levels people make mistakes but assessors are not looking to fail anyone on a small mistake. In fact the team will question to identify if the candidate understands the background of why something should be done a certain way - for example where a candidate has their stirrup twisted the wrong way the assessor will question to ascertain if the candidate understands the correct way and why.

The exam structures are designed to future proof riders because following process and technique means riders will go on to ride at a higher level.

Information provided around Stage 3 and 4 riding exams gave the following insights:

  • At Stage 4 level it was clarified that the assessors will have sat up on the horses that candidates will ride beforehand and that at this level candidates may ride horses “long and low”. in fact at Stage 3 and 4 assessors don’t want to see people candidates riding immediately in a dressage test outline and do not wish to see riders riding movements without understanding why a movement is or is not beneficial to the horse.

  • At stage 3 and 4 level the candidates need to be able to influence the horse so balance is key as is a basic understanding that the horse out of balance users their head and neck to balance. Riders with bad balance pulling a horse on the bit is an issue as the horse cannot work correctly. Assessors see too many riders riding backwards thinking they must ride a horse in a frame - they want to see that the rider is balanced and can ride forward into an outline.

  • At Stage 4 the horse should lift frame and go into the elementary balance with the withers up.

  • A lot of riders at Stage 3 and 4 level say ‘I am going to use transitions to improve the horse’ but it is important to remember that only good transitions improve the horse, bad ones don’t!

  • Riders at Stage 3 and 4 level should read the horse they are riding and should be surprised and comment if a thoroughbred is lazy rather than or a cob is sharp off the aids. Candidates should understand the makeup of the horse, what it typically goes like and should comment if it is not true to type. As Tim said ‘if a 30 year old Land Rover drives like a Ferrari - you would be surprised and would comment on it’

  • At Stage 3 and 4 correct candidates are starting to influence the horse. At Stage 3 the odd support aid in the rein is understood. At Stage 3 the intention should be to ride forward with independent aids - at Stage 4 candidates should be doing this. The biggest issue seen by assessors is candidates intentionally riding the horse backwards. Intention is key - the rider must show that they intend to ride a horse forwards into the contact in balance even if they have not yet achieved it.

  • At Stage 3 a candidate can be unsuccessful in their flatwork exam but if they are workmanlike and sufficiently balanced they can go on to pass their jumping exam as they have been seen jumping at Stage 2 and have been signed off for Stage 3 jumping.

  • At Stage 4 under the new format there will be a specific dressage assessment -candidates will ride one horse that is at elementary level, one that is not yet there yet and one that they ride over trot and canter poles. In showjumping candidates will ride three horses - one to do with riding over a course, one to ride related distances and one to show how they develop flatwork into jumping using poles.

  • At Stage 4 the rider needs to be training the horse and candidates need to take responsibility for the how the horse is going when solving problems. When discussing fixing issues self reflection is important and candidates need to say not just what they will do to the horse but also what they will change in their riding

  • A sign off for Stage 4 wont be mandatory until next year.

  • At Stage 5 there wont be a sign off book instead candidates will complete a training and cpd log which they will bring with them and discuss.

At Dunbyrne Equestrian we have our own onsite BHS Assessor and BHSI Ross O’Hare. If you are working towards your BHS riding exams and need some training, sign off for exams or a mock assessment please get in touch - dunbyrnestud@gmail.com

BHS Ireland 2019 Exam dates

The British Horse Society have released the 2019 dates for exams in the Republic of Ireland for 2019. As the dates are listed by centre on the BHS website, we have created a calendar by date instead to make it easier to find what you need.

You don’t need to be doing a course full time to take your BHS Exams, it’s entirely possible to study for and pass your exams independently while working full or part time. Whatever your situation, if you need an assessment, a mock exam, or some one to one or group training we can help. Our onsite BHSI Ross O’Hare provides training from Ride Safe to Stage One through to Stage 5. We have suitable horses for use in riding and lunging sessions and a working yard ideal for stable management lessons, lectures and practice.

if you are based somewhere else and would like us to come to you for training, just get in touch. Ross regularly travels around the country to deliver training so if you have a group interested we can arrange for him to come to you.

February

  • 11th February, Hitchmough’s, Ride Safe

  • 19th February, Kildalton, Stage 1 Care and Ride

  • 26th February, Calliaghstown, Stage 1 Care and Ride

  • 27th February, Calliaghstown, Stage 2 Care, Lunge and Ride

  • 28th February, Calliaghstown, Stage 2 Teach

  

March

  • 1st March, Calliaghstown, Stage 3 Teach

  • 26th March, Kildalton, Stage 3 Care, Lunge and Ride

  • 21st March, Slieve Aughty, Ride Safe

  • 27th March, Kildalton, Stage 2 Teach

 

April

  • 8th April, Hitchmough’s, Stage 1 Care and Ride

  • 9th April, Claremorris, Ride Safe

  • 16th April, Clonshire, Stage 2 Care, Lunge and Ride

  • 23rd April, Brennanstown, Stage 1 Care and Ride

  • 24th April, Brennanstown, Stage 2 Care, Lunge and Ride

  • 25th April, Brennanstown, Stage 3 Care, Lunge and Ride

  • 25th April, Danville, Ride Safe

  • 26th April, Brennanstown, Stage 2 Teach

  • 30th April, Calliaghstown, Stage 1 Care, Lunge and Ride

 

May

  • 1st May, Calliaghstown, Stage 2 Care, Lunge and Ride

  • 2nd May, Calliaghstown, Stage 3 Care, Lunge and Ride

  • 2nd May, Slieve Aughty, Ride Safe

  • 3rd May, Calliaghstown, Stage 2 Teach

 

June

  • 5th June, Grennan, Stage 3 Care, Lunge and Ride

  • 7th June, Grennan, Stage 2 Teach

  • 18th June, Brennanstown, Stage 1 Care and Ride

  • 19th June, Brennanstown, Stage 2 Care, Lunge and Ride

  • 20th June, Brennanstown, Stage 3 Care, Lunge and Ride

  • 21st June, Brennanstown, Stage 2 Teach

 

July

  • 9th July, Claremorris, Ride Safe

 

August

 

September

  • 3rd September, Brennanstown, Stage 2 Care, Lunge and Ride

  • 4th September, Brennanstown, Stage 3 Care, Lunge and Ride

  • 5th September, Brennanstown, Stage 2 Teach

  • 6th September, Brennanstown, Stage 3 Teach

  • 12th September, Slieve Aughty, Ride Safe

  • 18th September, Calliaghstown, Stage 2 Care, Lunge and Ride

  • 19th September, Calliaghstown, Stage 3 Care, Lunge and Ride

  • 20th September, Calliaghstown, Stage 2 Teach

  • 24th September, Claremorris, Ride Safe

 

October

  • 15th October, Brennanstown, Stage 4 Care, Lunge and Ride

  • 16th October, Stage 4 Teach

 

November

  • 7th November, Calliaghstown, Stage 1 Care, Lunge and Ride

  • 8th November, Calliaghstown, Ride Safe

 

 

 

Dunbyrne Riding School - FAQ

Dunbyrne Equestrian Centre

We run an onsite AIRE approved riding school at our equestrian centre in Kildare. Our riding school is separate to our livery yard and has it's own tack room, barn and all weather arena. Our lessons are taught by BHS (British Horse Society) approved instructors who have a wealth of experience and provide a professional and friendly learning environment. 

We are located ten mins from Kilmeague / Milltown and approx twenty from Kildare / Newbridge / Rathangan / Naas / Prosperous / Allenwood / Clane. 

Our FAQ will tell you everything you need to know about taking lessons with us. 

When do you run riding lessons for children?

We run riding lessons for children during the week after school and at weekends. We have limited availability at present in the following classes:

  • Wednesday and Thursday at 3.30pm - Beginner children

  • Wednesday and Thursday at 4.30pm - Novice Children

Our weekend classes are almost currently all fully booked but if you email us (dunbyrnestud@gmail.com) we can let you know what is available and add you to our waiting list. 

What age do you teach children from?

Children must be aged six years or older to take riding lessons with us. We cannot take children younger than this for lessons. 

When do you run riding lessons for adults?

Our adult group lessons take place on Wednesday evenings. We run beginner / Novice adult at 6.30pm and novice / advanced adult at 7.30pm. These lessons are a great way to meet like minded people and to unwind after a busy day at work. 

For beginners who are not yet ready to ride off the lead we offer private lessons on a Wednesday or Thursday between 10am and 2pm and on a Friday between 10am and 4pm

Do you do private lessons?

We have limited availability for private lessons for adults mid week (see above). Please contact us by email to enquire about this. For advanced adults we can offer private lessons with our BHSI at the weekends.

How much do lessons cost?

A group lesson costs €25 per person per hour. We also sell blocks of lessons where you can purchase up front. These blocks cost €125 for a block of six or €200 for a block of ten. 

A private lesson costs €50 per hour. 

What do I need to wear?

Please wear either jodhpurs, breeches, tracksuit bottoms or thick leggings. Jeans should not be worn. Please wear long sleeves and either, riding boots, wellies or boots with a sturdy heel. Long hair must be tied back and no jewellery (aside from wedding ring and small stud earrings) may be worn for safety reasons. Hoodies / sweatshirts with a hood cannot be worn. In the Winter time we would recommend to wear gloves. We have a selection of hats and back protectors that clients can use for their lesson. We also have a supply of riding boots in limited sizes which may be used.  

Do lessons go ahead in all weather?

We are based in Ireland and so expect all sorts of weather throughout the year. Our lessons go ahead unless it is unsafe to ride or the surface is frozen or flooded. If lessons cannot go ahead for any reason we will let clients know in plenty of time. Please in wet weather wear appropriate clothing - nothing waterproof is ever wasted in Ireland!

Cancellations:

We understand that sometimes life gets in the way and our clients may have to cancel. This is not a problem but out of courtesy to our staff and instructors we would ask for 24 hours notice of a cancellation otherwise a cancellation fee may apply. 

How do I book a lesson?

To book a lesson please send an email to dunbyrnestud@gmail.com including the following information:

  • The name of the rider

  • Level of riding experience

  • Approx weight and height for horse / pony assignment

  • Contact number

  • The lesson you wish to book into.

  • Any other information you feel is relevant.

Do you do leasing / loaning of ponies?

We do not provide leasing or loaning of ponies for clients. We do however have a livery yard onsite and if you have your own horse or pony we would be happy to discuss livery options with you.

Do you do trekking?

We don't do trekking. However when weather permits we include riding in the woods and / or in our cross country field into our lessons and pony camps. 

Do you run camps?

Yes we do. Our next camp will run at Easter - like us on Facebook to keep up to date with all our news and forthcoming events. 

Instructors:

All of our instructors are BHS qualified, have been Garda vetted and have completed child protection and first aid training. 

Registration:

On your first day with us, you will be asked to complete an AIRE (Association of Irish Riding Establishments) form for yourself and your child. This form advises us of any key information about the rider and ensures that we have emergency contact details.