british horse society ireland

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

No Fair Weather Riders at Dunbyrne's St. Patricks Weekend Show

At Dunbyrne Equestrian we are a family run riding school and livery yard based at the foot of the hill of Allen. We held our St Patricks weekend show on Saturday the 16th March and were delighted with the high level of turnout in spite of very wet weather.

Our riding school clients enjoyed the show on board our Dunbyrne Equestrian horses and ponies while our livery clients joined in on their own mounts. Eight show jumping classes took place allowing riders to showcase their skills over fences. This event was an ideal opportunity for our AIRE approved riding school clients to show what they had learned from onsite BHS qualified instructors Tara Hyland and Kia Anglin. Over sixty riders took part many of whom looked very festive in St. Patrick’s day themed dress.

The assisted cross poles class allowed younger and less experienced riders their first taste of competition assisted by experienced leaders. The cross poles class gave riders a chance to have a solo run over fences while the 40-50cm class challenged riders with a course of twelve fences including a double, a turnback and a dogs leg. Riders stepped up to the mark with many impressive clear rounds in each class and a lucky dip decided who took home the coveted Dunbyrne trophies.

The sixty centimetre class was the first to include timing against the clock for the second half of the track to determine results. It proved to be very exciting as riders fought to beat the fastest time cheered on by spectators. Just three riders managed a double clear with impressive times. Top of the class was local rider Jessica McBride. Jessica has ridden in Dunbyrne riding school for many years and she and DBS Magic really were magic as they stopped the clock at 48.99 seconds to win the class. Second and third place went to fellow riding school riders Sophia Manning who competed with DBS Merrylegs and Ellie Moore who competed with DBS Rolo.

The seventy, eighty and ninety centimetre classes allowed the more experienced riders and the DBS Tailblazers to showcase their skills. Tailblazers is a weekly coaching academy run at Dunbyrne by BHS & HSI coach Lorna O’Hare to teach competition skills to under eighteens with their own horse or pony. In the seventy centimetre class riding school member Thomas Cruise really was top gun as he took on the course and rode a double clear at his first show on board Jumanji. This class was won by DBS Tailblazer Sive Murphy and her pony Cooper (Whats It All About). Sive gave a display of jumping against the clock with some very tight turns to cross the finish in 38.64 seconds. The eighty centimetre class was very kindly sponsored by John Davitt director of local construction business Davtech (www.davtech.ie) . It was only fitting that John’s daughters did him proud in this class. Niamh Davitt and Clonmore Bailey stopped the clock at 34.08 delivering the fastest clear round of the day! Second place went to her sister Sinead Davitt on board Killelton Starlight.

An eighty centimetre pairs relay class in which riders competed against the clock jumping six fences each provided great entertainment for spectators. Just two pairs completed the track with clear rounds. The fastest of these proved to be Sive Murphy and Caoimhe Sullivan who flew around on board their ponies Cooper and Judy to win the class less than a second ahead of Caitlin Harrington and Tabitha Walsh in second place. The final class of the day was the ninety centimetre class which was sponsored by Horseware and well supported. The course took it’s toll and just two of the nine riders who competed managed to complete it without any faults. Sinead Davitt had a foot perfect round in a very good time of 36.83 to claim first place with her mare Killelton Starlight. Zara Logan was delighted to finish with a clear round and take second place in this class at her first show on board her pony Prince.

Dunbyrne Equestrian would like to thank all who attended and supported this show, Michelle Davitt for managing entries, Helena Coffey for giving up a day to scribe, John Davitt (Davtech) and Horseware for sponsorship, Ross O’Hare for course building and judging and yard manager Kia Anglin and her team for running such an enjoyable day.

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