The BHS (British Horse Society) Horse Owners Certificate


The BHS Horse Owners Certificate Level 1

  • Knowledge of horse types, uses, colours and markings.
  • Elementary stable management.
  • Knowledge of care and maintenance required to keep a horse healthy and comfortable in a stable.
  • Stable routine and safety in the stable.
  • Safe handling of both the horse and equipment necessary for his well-being.
  • A knowledge of substances in common use which require particular care andand/or storage.
  • Identification of items of tack in common use and naming of the parts.
  • Basic care of tack.
  • Ability to take apart, inspect for safety, clean and reassemble.
  • Reasons and principles of grooming.
  • Knowledge of the items in a grooming kit and their use.
  • Basic knowledge of shoeing and care of the foot.
  • Recognition of signs of health and ill health and when to call a vet.
  • Temperature, pulse, respiration and the signs of health.
  • Preventative treatments – worming, flu-vac etc including a basic knowledge of the need to worm and vaccinate.
  • Elementary principles of watering and feeding and the rules of feeding and watering.
  • A knowledge of buying a horse including points to look for and the need for a vet to assess the horse before purchase.
  • Elementary rules for preparing a horse for a ride including riding out on the roads; returning from a ride; and how to dress for riding.

The BHS Horse Owners Certificate Level 2

  • The reasons for shoeing and recognition of when shoeing or re-shoeing is required.
  • A knowledge of the basic structure of the foot.
  • Knowledge of a farrier’s tools and use.
  • Know how to remove a shoe safely in an emergency.
    Recognition of common injuries and basic first aid.
  • Know how to arrest bleeding and treat different types of wounds.
  • Knowledge of watering and feeding of the stabled horse and the horse at grass including feeding in all seasons and feeding for light work.
  • Care and maintenance of grassland including the maintenance of fences, gates, shelter, watering etc.
  • Care and improvement of the grassland to include a knowledge of harmful weeds and their control.
  • The care of saddlery, including the inspection for soundness of saddles.
  • A knowledge of the fitting and use of more items of equipment i.e. martingales,breastplates, boots etc.
  • The necessity of insurance to cover all aspects of the horse and its use.
  • Stable Routine for two horses which also includes all the extra jobs that need to be undertaken e.g. drains, guttering, paintwork, cleanliness of yard etc.
  •  A knowledge of the different types of bedding and their management including  different systems e.g. deep litter.
  • The Highway Code.
  • The Country Code, including the correct and courteous use of bridleways.

The BHS Horse Owners Certificate Level 3

  • The recognition, treatment and care of common injuries and ailments, further to Level Two.
  • Changes from management in the stable to management at grass and viceversa.
  • The procedures for getting a horse up from a period out at grass e.g.,teeth, worming etc. and the procedures for roughing-off a horse.
  • Clipping, trimming and plaiting.
  • Care and maintenance of horse transport; to include both horse boxes and trailers.
  • A knowledge of the law regarding the transit of horses including weight ratios for trailers and legal requirement with regard to towing.
  • Preparation of the horse for travel including aknowledge of equipment needed with regard to the length of journey and the climatic conditions.
  • The care of the horse trekking and in competitive events.
  • Understanding  fitness and condition, and the maintenance of both.
  • Knowledge of good and bad stable construction including different types of stabling.
  • Basic requirements of planning regulations.
  • Layout of stable yard to include handling and disposal of the muck heap.
  • Knowledge of horse clothing and bandagingincluding their care and maintenance.
  • Recognition of good and bad forage.
  • Knowledge of different grasses found in hay samples and ability to identify weeds and poor grasses.
  • Storage of forage
  • Have a working knowledge of the costs involved in keeping a horse.

The BHS Horse Owners Certificate Level 4

  • Knowledge of the main systems in the horse (Respiration, Reproduction,Digestive, Immune, etc.), their function and common problems associated with these systems, (COPD, Colic etc.)
  • Knowledge of various grasses, conditions for growth and beneficial properties.
  • Procedures for improving pasture i.e. drainage, cross grazing, re-seeding, fertilisers etc. Calendar of management for grassland. Haymaking – types and methods.
  • Vitamins/Minerals – difference between them and why they may be deficient in the diet.
  • Name main vitamins/minerals and their uses.
  • Weights and types of feed available for: Riding School horses, Hunters, Competition Horses, etc.
  • Knowledge of structure of the tooth and ageing characteristics. Description of structure of the mouth and common problems that may result from poor mouth conformation.
  • Name and structure of different types of remedial shoes, describe the condition under which these shoes may be used and the way in which they affect improvement/relief.
  • List the basic principles of sick nursing and the reasons/conditions for implementing these.
  • Describe the way in which these principles may help to reduce severity of a condition/injury and any problems that may arise as a result.
  • Outline the basic principles of fitting various saddles (dressage, jumping, cross-country, general purpose) and bridles (snaffle, double bridle).
  • Describe the uses of specific ‘bits’ and gadgets, (draw reins, balancing reins, Market Harborough, De Gouge, etc.) and the way in which they work.
  • List common stable vices and their possible causes and suggest ways to stop such vices and the preventative steps that can be taken to limit these.
  • A general knowledge of The BHS and its Departments, Structure etc. Awareness of The BHS qualifications system and The BHS Register of Instructors.
  • Action to be taken in the event of an accident. A knowledge of RIDDOR and legal obligations of an Instructor.

Candidate’s information packs are available from the BHS Examinations Department on request.

EHV-1 Equine Herpes Virus Type1: What you need to know

EHV-1 is a virus, Equine Herpes Virus Type 1. It is also called the “rhino virus” or “rhinopneuomitis”.

The EHV-1 virus is extremely contagious.

EHV-1 virus spreads via nasal secretions, through touch, through the air and through objects that have been in contact with infected horses this includes hands and clothing of people.

Equine Herpes Virus 1 (EHV-1) can cause respiratory disease, abortion, neonatal mortality and it can mutate to Equine Herpes Virus Myeloencephalopathy (EHM) a severe viral brain and spinal fluid infection.

All equines – horses, donkeys, mules, zebras can contract EHV-1 as can alpacas and llamas.


Symptoms of Equine Herpes Virus Type 1 (EHV-1) include high temperature, lethargy, clear runny nose, many horses only get the respiratory version and clear the virus after a few days however they should still be evaluated by a vet and isolated for at least 21 days or until any infectious disease has been ruled out.

Symptoms of Equine Herpes Virus Myeloencephalopathy (EHM)  include high temperature, followed by a variety of possible neurologic signs which may include weakness, incoordination of the limbs, inability to urinate or pass manure, decreased tail tone. Signs are more apparent in the hindlimbs and in severe cases may progress to the inability to stand.

Prevention of EHV-1:

The best way to prevent EHV-1 exposure during suspected outbreaks is to quarantine your horses and yard / barn.

Practice bio-security in the yard see Minimising the risk of equine infectious diseases using biosecurity at the stable yard

If you think you may have been in contact with horses who have contracted EHV-1 start taking your horse’s temperature  twice a day, if your horse’s temperature rises above normal (99-101°F (37.2-38.3°C) for an adult horse) contact your equine vet IMMEDIATELY.

There are several vaccines on the market to prevent the respiratory and abortion forms of the EHV-1 rhinovirus but there is currently no effective vaccine for the neurologic form of EHV-1. Your vet can advise you as to the best vaccine for your horse.


Horse Flies – Tabanidae species – Tabanus

Tabanidae flies are the largest of blood sucking flies, there are approximately 4,500 species found world wide, 30 of which can be found in the UK.  Adult flies feed on nectar but as a haematophagous fly the female horsefly feeds on blood to obtain the necessary nutrients for the development of their eggs and they will attack a wide variety of animals including horses and their human handlers.

The horsefly (genus Tabanus) bite is very painful as the female horsefly cuts and rasps the skin with powerful mandibles and maxillae to create a feeding hole. The blood is sucked using  a protruding hypopharynx which causes pain to the host.


Tabanids can take up to 300ml of blood a day from a host severely weakening the animal, they are also known vectors for blood- borne diseases for horses such as Equine Infectious Anaemia. Horse fly bites are nasty resulting in lumps with a characteristic central ulcer. They can become infected.

Horsefly larvae inhabit moist areas feeding on  invertebrates like snails and worms before they pupate. The adult horsefly emerges in June and July, the greatest horsefly activity occurs on warm, sunny days when there is little or no wind.

Insecticides containing pyrethroids (Permethrin or Cypermethrin) offer horses some protection against horse flies. Also consider stabling your horse on warm, sultry days when horse flies are active,  horse flies don’t like dark areas and will not go into the stable.

To avoid being bitten yourself, wear long sleeved tops, apply a repellent that contains diethyltoluamide (DEET) and wear light coloured clothing which apparently doesn’t attract the flies like darker colours.