At Albion, we believe that the best preparation for students is not found only in the classroom, nor is it best delivered by spending only time in the stable. Rather, in order to produce employable students who are educated in the best of the liberal arts tradition and through hands-on, practical experience in the stable, we have created a program that combines the best of both worlds. Graduates of Albion College and the BHS examination system are prepared to begin careers as equestrian professionals, not at the lower levels (mucking stalls, grooming, etc.), but in management roles, whether it be instructing riders, stable management, or working in countless other equine-related career fields that require sound thinking and practical abilities.
Certification through the British Horse Society is international and, unlike existing equestrian certification programs recognized in the U.S., is recognized in 32 countries worldwide. In addition, graduates of the Albion program will gain this international qualification without sacrificing the quality of their overall academic education (leading to increased, worldwide employability in not only equine-related fields, but also in areas such as business, education, and the sciences).
Applications for the BHS program are available here. Each student interested in joining the program must fill out and submit a written application (including required essay questions), a video of their riding, and undergo a personal interview with one of the program staff. On-site interviews are strongly recommended but telephone interviews can be arranged.
In order to maximize each student's learning experience, a limited number of students enter this program each fall.
Students may major in nearly any of Albion's over 30 academic majors or areas of concentration. (Please note that, due to the number of hours required by the education concentration and the athletic training major, these programs will not fit with the BHS program.)
Undecided students are encouraged to immerse themselves in Albion's core liberal arts courses during their first few semesters in order to get a feel for those subjects that most interest them. The majors that are most applicable to future equestrian professionals are economics and management, biology and chemistry.
Those who wish to enroll full time to train for their international BHS examinations at Albion without enrolling as a degree-seeking student at the College may do so. Applications for full-time BHS candidacy are available here.
Full-time BHS candidates will train for their Assistant Instructor (International Level 1) certification for 2 years (which may vary based on prior equine experience). The full-time BHS program will span 48 weeks with 5 days of required instruction and 6 days of required stable work per week. Due to the intensity of this program, a limited number of students are accepted each year. Full details (including program costs, room and accommodations, and other considerations are available in the BHS student handbook (available from the Held Equestrian Center).
The British Horse Society program at Albion is headed by Nancy G. Held Equestrian Center director George Halkett, a BHS International Level II Instructor (BHSII, reg.). Mr. Halkett is one of only three registered BHS instructors in the United States who holds this particular level of certification. In addition, he also holds an international trainer's passport. His full biography is available here.
In addition, Albion BHS students are also instructed by stable manager Emily Jackson, BHSAI. She gives those just starting the program a solid foundation on which to build as they progress toward their international qualifications. Her full biography is available here.
The cost of the BHS program at Albion College for a degree-seeking student is $3,080 per year (which includes two BHS lectures and two BHS rides per week for the fall and spring semesters). This is in addition to the annual tuition costs assessed by the College and does not include horse boarding costs for any students who wish to bring their own horses with them. It also does not include BHS examination fees, which will vary based on conversion rates for the USD.
No, you do not need your own horse to join the program. Albion's school horses are available for all BHS students to use during their scheduled riding times and will also serve as equine "visual aids" for the unmounted lecture portions of the program.
Students who wish to use their own horses on the program are permitted to do so, however, so long as they submit a stall application and video in the spring prior to their arrival on campus. BHS student horses are subject to all rules and regulations governing regular student boarders. (More information on boarding at Albion can be found here.)
Students participating in the BHS program at Albion will need appropriate attire for both riding and working in the stable (including hard-soled shoes with a heel, half-chaps and/or tall riding boots, an ASTM/SEI-approved riding helmet, and other weather-appropriate outdoor attire). Students who bring their own horse must also have appropriately-fitted tack for that particular horse. All other equipment (including saddles, bridles, lunging equipment, wheelbarrows, pitchforks, etc.) will be provided to the students by the College.
Lockers for storage of student-owned attire/equipment are provided to program participants at no charge.
Students working on their BHS certification at Albion are required to attend twice weekly lectures and riding lessons as a part of their coursework. (These lectures and rides are scheduled around their academic courses on campus.) Additionally, they have required weekend work in the stable. Summer training is encouraged or students to progress more rapidly through the program's requirements.
As with all students who participate in the riding program at the Nancy G. Held Equestrian Center, those working towards BHS certification will be encouraged to compete in local, regional, and national shows, either on their own mount or on one supplied to them by the College.
Albion sent five students to do their exams in May, 2011. All five had already passed their Stage 1 exams (administered at Albion). Four students were taking their Stage 2 examinations; one student was taking her Stage 3. There were no full-time candidates in the program in 2010-2011.
To date, all Albion students have passed their BHS examinations.