I have been working up the BHS career pathway for around 3 years now and there has been many ups and downs and I wanted to share my experiences and tips for anyone else working through their training and exams.
Its hard work. Like really hard work. Obviously, the stage 1 exam eases you in nicely and covers all of the basics of our industry. Stage 2 is a step up and if you are going for the complete horsemanship then coaching is involved. What I was not ready for was the step up to stage 3!
Before I go any further my absolute top tip is FIND YOUR SUPPORT NETWORK. I honestly cannot tell you how much having the right people and support around you can help. Being part of Ryders Farm Equestrian Centre has been my support, not only Sarah who I have done majority of my training with and is always there to give me a kick up the back side when I wasn’t sure if I was ready but for all the other staff doing their training, we always had someone to ask us questions, bounce ideas off and to watch each other ride and give feedback. It is INVALUABLE!
Step out of your comfort zone. My comfort zone was at Ryders. I was comfortable there and I know all of the horses so well, so I needed experience on new horses ready for my exam. Even during my Stage 2 I went to other centres to take part in some of their care exam training which also gave me insight into how different places and people do things and gives you a wider range of experiences for you to talk about in discussions.
Ride as many horses as you can. This links to the above tip also. Chances are when you go into your exam you are going to ride horses you have never sat on before and to be quite honest you don’t get much time to work out where your buttons are. Especially in the Stage 3 ride I only had max. 10 minutes on each horse before I was called to discuss the horse and what I was going to work on for the next 10 minutes. Everyone knows when I’ve got an exam coming up as 1 I’m stressed beyond sanity but 2 I am on a riding mission!!
Be confident. The assessors are there to guide you through the exam and they are not there to fail you! If you are not sure be honest or ask them to ask the question in a different way. Don’t panic! This is definitely something I learnt coming from my Stage 2 going into my 3. I was a lot more confident to discuss a topic in my stage 3 and to ask for more information around the scenario I was being given instead of just freezing and thinking what the heck are we talking about here (typical me thing to do!)
Visit the centre you are taking your exam at. If you are not familiar with the venue, then book onto one of the courses or go and have a lesson. Not only will this make you more familiar with the surrounding it will make you feel more confident on your exam day as you will know where everything is. Coaches at the centre are often very willing to tell you how the day will work and it also introduces you to a friendly face on the day of your exam.
I have so many more tips to share but I think I might have to do a part 2 and maybe more! I have worked so hard to reach my Complete Stage 3 but the experiences I have gained along the way have been amazing. I continue on my journey to stage 4 which I will keep you updated with along the way!