As the largest equestrian charity in the UK, The British Horse Society is dedicated to education, equine welfare, protecting and increasing access to bridleways and equestrian routes, and safety for horses and riders. The Society’s thriving and active community of staff and volunteers is committed to improving the lives of horses everywhere.
We appreciate the value of facts and figures. It is impossible to lobby Government and other organisations for change without hard evidence to prove there is a need. With more than 100,000 members, as a community we are never short of something to say.
Perhaps you want to be part of our journey – you can become a valued volunteer, member or employee helping us to make a real difference!
- If you want to work for a not-for-profit organisation
- If you want to combine your passion for horses with your career and contribute to the success of an equestrian charity
- Opportunities to work at large equestrian events
We have a lot to offer in the education team for those that enjoy a fast paced and buzzing atmosphere. We have roles that are customer facing and assist with the day-to-day running of our assessments; this could be from booking the candidate, to offering guidance to someone starting in the industry or advising our Accredited Professional Coaches. You could also enjoy a business to business role by supporting our assessment centres and assessors.
If you have a passion for writing and you have technical equestrian knowledge we have roles that work behind the scenes to revise our qualifications to ensure they are relevant in the current industry. We also research the market to develop new qualifications, workshops or courses.
The majority of this work is done at HQ, however there are plenty of opportunities to attend large equestrian events and work on our BHS trade stand, help out at our National Convention or assessor training, attend careers fairs or present an education talk to a group of college students.
Our welfare team take in the region of 6000 calls to our helpline annually. Through the support of our network of passionate and committed volunteer welfare officers, we respond to equine welfare concerns on a daily basis and deal with over 1500 new cases a year. We not only respond to welfare concerns but with the help of our Friends At The End initiative, our welfare team also support horse owners at the time they may need a shoulder to cry on, a helping hand or just someone to listen to when they are considering euthanising their horse. If research and writing are your passion our welfare team are striving to be the number one resource for welfare education; producing free information leaflets and guides covering a range of horse health topics, whilst also providing horse care advice over the phone or email.
The BHS is also one of the largest Passport Issuing Offices in the UK and this is administrated in our welfare team.
There are plenty of opportunities to get out and about with our welfare team as they regularly hold health care clinics, passport and castration days, information days or training for welfare officers. Our welfare team also organise our amazing Challenge Ride experiences.
Roles within the safety team will include business to business communications as we work alongside a range of other organisations and societies to improve horse and rider safety. You would also assist with the creation of marketing and campaign material as we continue to promote safer riding and increase awareness of horse riders to other road users.
If digital marketing and social media are of interest the safety team promote their work on all social media platforms and manage our online incident and accident reporting tool. Our safety team will also speak to members of the public on a daily basis and support our volunteers to help promote our work at a local level.
As one of our core charitable operations, we protect, extend and promote all routes and areas to ride (i.e. bridleways, forests, beaches, commonland) throughout the United Kingdom, ensuring riders and carriage drivers have somewhere to actually access outside of the arena. We are a statutory consultee and our team at HQ work with, and react to, UK legislation & government proposals, consultations and planning applications, all of which regularly threaten, or can offer opportunities to extend the equestrian network wherever you live. We lobby at a national and local level to ensure existing access remains for future generations, that routes are kept open and accessible, and where possible linked to form circular or linear short and long distance routes forming part of the BHS National Bridleroute Network. We are the industry point of contact for matters regarding equestrian off road access, and advise the public, landowners, local authorities and planners daily.
Working in the access team is incredibly rewarding. Our roles really make a lasting difference to todays and future equestrians and the geography of a local area. It is incredibly varied and interesting, and often complex which brings continual professional learning and development. Lots of patience, problem solving, people skills and persistence are required for access work. Our roles include administrative data processing and management, project and event management, volunteer support and management, fundraising, technical publications and communications, historic research, public talks and demonstrations, public training and representation of equestrians on committees, and of course Geographical Information System and online mapping too. The team also manage public communication streams on social media and via a monthly e-news, and produce a range of free leaflets and guides covering topics from blocked bridleways, finding new places to ride, to gate and fencing installation advice along with managing an online data resource for our volunteers.
If you are interested in getting involved more in our work, you could attend our acclaimed Rights of Way training which would give you an advantage if you were to pursue any career in public access, land management, outdoor recreation, or our HQ access team. Why not test the water and become a volunteer Access Officer for your area, if you love riding, maps, people, quite often a bit of history and research, and making a difference, access might just be for you.
If you want to develop your skills in events management then this is the team for you! The BRC team organise and run a number of National Championship shows throughout the year. There are business to customer roles as BRC has over 34,000 members with over 530 clubs and centres so handing all aspects of membership from new club affiliations through to membership renewals and updates. Training is another key aspect, both for members and clubs with many dates to organise throughout the year.
There will be many opportunities to work outdoors with the BRC team as not only are you organising the events in the run up to the competition, but you will also be there on the day getting stuck in with a wide variety of key roles, interacting with members, volunteers and contractors.
Business to business roles and opportunities will be available as you could help to organise sponsors and prizes for the competitions. BRC also produce their own membership magazine so there are communication, press and marketing roles within this team. If you prefer to get a taster of this type of work before pursuing a career in this field there will be plenty of volunteer opportunities at the National Championships.
This team supports our BHS Approved Centres of which there are many types from Riding Schools through to Trekking Centres, Livery Yards and Retraining Centres. We have centres throughout the United Kingdom and many that are overseas, including Asia, the Emirates and the United States of America.
If you work at BHS headquarters or are employed off site ‘in the field’ you will need to have a reasonable level of horse knowledge and good interpersonal skills as you will be talking to busy yard owners who frequently call for advice or guidance on many differing topics, some related to horses and others related to business rates or legal guidance.
We have a team of Inspectors who undertake visits to the centres to inspect and advise them upon the standards that are required to become a BHS Approved Centre. Inspectors have previous experience within the equine industry and have BHS qualifications, all of which helps them in the face to face discussions they have with centre owners during an inspection visit.
Being interested in and understanding aspects of the equine industry with an ability to manage your time and communicate (both verbally and in writing) are valuable attributes to any member of the team as we are often working with busy yard owners who often need a quick answer to their concerns.
If you’re a people-person with a flair for communication, and enjoy using your persuasion skills to good effect, then our membership team could be for you. You‘ll speak to our members on a daily basis processing new memberships and renewals. You’ll also have the opportunity to work at large equestrian events on our trade stand talking to our members face to face about our membership benefits - and hopefully signing up new ones!
You will have the opportunity to network at events and speak to our major donors and potential donors. You will contribute to the success of the charity by developing fundraising campaigns that help secure donations and legacies.
This covers the breadth of our communication channels via social media, our British Horse magazine, our website, email and many other channels. Within this department there will be journalism roles writing articles for our magazine, liaising with the media or writing press releases. You could be lobbying to raise awareness of hard hitting campaigns or you could get the chance to meet and interview your equestrian heroes. Other types of creative roles include creating promotional material from content and design to print, video and merchandise or organising and promoting events around the country. You will work closely with all departments of the BHS to promote the charitable work that we do or the services and products we provide.
Our events, bookshop and merchandise team organise all of the operations for our show stands and online shop. This spans from booking space at a show, designing our stand, project management and setting up on the day. We also run and maintain our online bookshop from processing and packing orders to finding exiting new products. Our team is given plenty of opportunity to work at large equestrian events and experience events, trade stand management and merchandising.
The Regional and National Manager is to support members and volunteers in their regions, providing information and organising training days whilst maintaining the professional image of the BHS at a range of events making this role extremely varied. Working from their region, they are the vital link between BHS headquarters and the local community, and are often our first point of contact with potential members and volunteers. They also ensure that development in the main areas of BHS work – education, welfare, access and safety – is deployed in the best way to each individual region. They support and advise their volunteers, without whom the Society could not operate effectively.
The Chief Executive’s team supports the Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer, the Senior Management team and the Board of Trustees. The work is varied and exciting. One day you could be organising a lunch for our friends and supporters at a major equestrian event, the next you could be minuting a Board meeting where the strategic direction of the Society is being decided.
Of course, once you have worked in the industry and have valuable experience and strategic business knowledge, the Chief Executive role could be the one for you!
Our HR team deals with the hiring, administration, and training of all staff. Excellent communication and people skills are essential for any role within this team.
You can support the day to day operations of the BHS by joining one of these teams. Equestrian knowledge may not be essential but experience and/or professional qualifications in one of these specialist areas would be necessary.
Your next steps
Stage 2 Complete Horsemanship provides an in-depth foundation knowledge and understanding of equine care and management, lungeing, riding on the flat and over fences and the initial principles of teaching and coaching to support a more strategic role in any equestrian organisation. This career certificate demonstrates you have the foundation understanding of the industry to support a role in any of our departments within the BHS.
A commitment and passion for horses is a must when it comes to working for an equestrian charity. Your ability to work well in a team, be professional and excellent customer service skills will also be a necessity. If you like working in a fast paced, fun environment, have an excellent eye for detail and are adaptable and friendly then a role with the BHS might be for you.
- Opportunities to develop and implement your ideas
- Working with like-minded, passionate people helping to improve horse and rider welfare and safety
- Opportunities to collaborate and work with different departments within the BHS, widening your skill set and enabling you to develop your career
A week in the life of Sophie Cookson
Monday: Receiving calls from concerned members of public about horses in trouble and assigning new concerns to our Welfare Officers. I am also talking to people who are interested in becoming a volunteer Welfare Officer and starting the recruitment process by asking them a series of equine knowledge based questions called a ‘technical assessment’.
Tuesday: Heading out on the road to a Castration and Healthcare clinic where myself and the team work alongside vets to give horses a healthcare package including: castration, passport, microchip, wormer, farriery and dental care. It is a great day out with lots of teamwork to ensure all horses leave happy and healthy.
Wednesday: Another day out of the office, to train some of our 200 Welfare Officers. The day includes training about animal welfare legislation, a practical condition scoring session, welfare case studies and lone working procedures. The training happens 12 times a year and is usually at a BHS Approved Centre so I get to travel all over the UK.
Thursday: Our welfare literature is sent out to BHS members, volunteers, members of the public and even veterinary practices! Today I am making a large order of leaflets to send out to a veterinary practice that I am also doing a talk at later today. Our Friends at the End scheme is very popular as lots of industry professionals realise how much horses mean to people, and that they need support when horses need to be euthanised. Vet nurses and receptionists are at the front line and need to know how to best support grieving owners.
Friday: Today I am going to the New Forest to assist on the Verderers Tour. This is a tour that equine welfare professionals attend to check the welfare of the New Forset ponies. Assessments are made about their health and wellbeing, checking for any outbreaks of disease and to make sure only the best stock breed together to keep them all healthy.
You need a lot of drive and energy to be a National or Regional Manager for the BHS. For me each morning begins with a run, I need to be able to exercise every day; it helps me clear my mind for the day ahead!
Back at the desk we receive well over 50 emails a day, this can involve a lot of catch up if we are out in the field. From writing responses to national consultations or agendas for meetings, it’s a real mix bag but emails can bring a good opportunity to network, fundraise or recruit volunteers. We try and stay at our desks at least a couple of days a week… but that is not always possible.
There is no such thing as a typical member of the Development Team, as we all have different ways of adapting our roles to our particular areas. With mine being Scotland where every bit of legislation relating to the horse and equine industry is devolved. My meetings are often national in nature from discussing access to the countryside to visiting Scottish Parliament, or even spending the day with Police Scotland.
Speaking on behalf of others is a large part of my job; and where there is conflict between horse riders and land owners and others I am often called in to arbitrate… and no I don’t always take the side of the rider! For instance if one rider takes irresponsible access to a section of land, it could result in hundreds of local riders losing their safe off-road riding.
Education is our best weapon. I wouldn’t be able to do everything without the help of my amazing Scottish colleagues and volunteers. With the support of them, our Approved Centres and 15 committees, we run regional and national events – with on average over 350 a year in Scotland. Events can range from BHS First Aid to wine and cheese nights.
In Scotland, the BHS is by far and away the biggest equine membership organisation, so we work very much in partnership. For instance, we hold an annual welfare conference with Scottish Government, World Horse Welfare, Scottish SPCA and the Donkey Sanctuary. Being a valued partner is so important to us and we try and support Horsescotland (our BEF equivalent) as much as possible.
Organising events takes a lot of work, I once had to tell 30 farriers (who had all given up a day’s work to attend a vet session on laminitis) that the presenter’s plane was grounded. I had the break the news to them, but in the end they all rose to the occasion and presented to each other. What could have been a disaster turned out to be really informative.
Horses’ drive an industry that is as important to Scotland as farming, tourism and forestry, so that’s my job, getting a fair deal and improving lives for equine.
I have worked for the BHS for over one third of my life and during that time seen so many changes, it’s always challenging and no two days are the same. I was employed to further the aims of the BHS in Scotland- I believe with all my heart and soul that I do that every day.