Pearson BTEC Level 2 Diploma in Horse Care (BTEC First)


This BTEC Level 2 Diploma is classified as a BTEC First; a QCF Level 2 qualification designed to provide a specialist work related qualification giving learners the knowledge, understanding and skills needed to prepare for employment. This qualification also provides career development opportunities for those already in work and can be studied full-time or part-time in school or from home.

BTEC Firsts provide much of the underpinning knowledge and understanding for the National Occupational Standards for the sector. This Level 2 Diploma is recognised as a Technical Certificate and is recognised by employers. It is broadly equivalent to four GCSEs. On successful completion of a BTEC First qualification, learners can progress to or within employment and/or continue their study in the same, or related vocational area.

The Diploma is designed to provide:

  • education and training for those who seek entry into employment or are employed in a variety of types of work, such as in stable work, horse husbandry, horse riding, equestrian competition and associated industries
  • opportunities for learners to gain a nationally recognised Level 2 vocationally related qualification to enter employment or progress to further education or training such as the BTEC Level 3 qualifications in Horse Management or a similar related subject area
  • information on the role of the horse carer and the opportunities available within the industry locally and nationally
  • opportunities for learners to focus on the development of Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills (PLTS) and Functional Skills
  • opportunities for learners to develop a range of skills and techniques, personal qualities and attitudes essential for successful performance in working life.

Course Details

Academic Level: Further Education Level 2
Number of units/modules: 10
Study Hours per Unit: 36
Total Hours:  360
Course Duration:  12 – 18 months
Study Week Requirements: 2x compulsory 5 day study weeks
The programme is delivered through blended learning which consists of tutor-supported online studies via a bespoke virtual learning environment (VLE) combined with practical training. Practical training may, by prior agreement and subject to arrangements made by TOCES, be undertaken at a yard local to you, e.g at your school if it has equestrian facilities or at a BHS approved riding centre in your area. Alternatively, practical training will be gained whilst attending two five-day study weeks here at TOCES.

Aged 14 years and over

Learners who have recently been in education must hold at least one of the following:

–  BTEC Level 1 qualification in Land-based Studies or a related vocational area

–  a standard of literacy and numeracy supported by a general education equivalent to four GCSEs at grade D-G

–  other related Level 1 qualification

–  related work experience.

If studied as part of the funded Technical Certificate provision learners must be in one of the following situations:

  1. At school or college, studying this programme within school hours
  2. If you do not want to stay on at school or go to college full-time you can work or volunteer for a minimum of 20 hours a week and study

For all other learners it is not necessary to be working with horses to undertake this programme.

Mature learners (21 and over) may present a more varied profile of achievement that is likely to include experience of paid and/or unpaid employment.  The programme is open to all.

Module / Unit Details

Pearson (BTEC) are the UK’s largest awarding body and we are regulated by Ofqual (England), SQA Accreditation (Scotland), CCEA Accreditation (Northern Ireland) and Qualifications Wales (Wales). Pearson offer academic and vocational qualifications that are globally recognised and benchmarked.

Study from home or school

Fit study in around your current commitments and while you gain practical experience in the equine industry.

Full course support

Our dedicated student support tutors are available to assist you throughout your studies. Keep in touch with fellow students too!

Nationally recognised qualification

Awarded by BTEC, an internationally recognised awarding body

Learn while you earn

Continue to work full, part time or volunteer!

Unit 1 Undertake Work Related Experience in the Land-based Industries

Environmental and land-based industry:  range of sectors represented eg production (livestock, crops), leisure/tourism, equestrian, forestry/arboriculture, fishery management, aquaculture, farriery, floristry, fencing, gamekeeping, animal care/welfare, conservation, countryside management, land-based engineering, landscaping and horticulture.  Job roles: the range of roles available within the chosen sector

Documents and skills relating to work experience:  Documents: job advertisement; CV; covering letter; application form; job/role description; essential and desirable personal requirements; using these documents in an appropriate way. Skills: identification of skills required to work in the sector eg interpersonal skills, communication, technical knowledge, practical skills; use of skills

Plan and review self-development during work experience:  Personal skills: identify own skillsPlanning self-development: methods of reviewing own development needs eg skills audit Self-development: methods of reviewing self-development eg meeting/discussion with supervisor, self review

Report on the work experience;  Description of employer’s business; description of employees’ roles; pictorial evidence about the employer/site eg maps, plans, photos, leaflets; description of how the business makes income; your own role within the organisation and tasks you carried out. Methods of presentation: verbal, written, visual

Work related experience could be as part of a placement while at school or voluntary work within the sector, for example in an equine welfare centre or riding school.

Unit 2 Carry Out and Understand the Principles of Feeding and Watering Horses

Feed and water horses:  preparation for feeding (stable, at grass); selection and preparation of equipment; identification of feedstuffs; weighing and measure of feedstuffs, hay; allocation/distribution of feed from instructions (concentrations, roughage); timing and frequency of feeding; presentation of feed; feeding for life stage, work stage, health status; record keeping and reporting of feeding habits/food stocks; health and safety considerations; Personal Protective Equipment (PPE); feed room daily maintenance.  Watering horses: preparation for watering: selection and preparation of equipment; health and safety considerations; PPE; timing and frequency of watering; record keeping and reporting of watering habits where appropriate

Principles of feeding and watering horses: rules of feeding (stable, at grass); common feedstuffs; forage (concentrate ratios, basic rations); feeding regimes; timing and frequency of feeding; presentation of feed; types of feed eg hay, soaked hay, ryegrass hay, haylage, silage; quality; checking; safe storage; feeding methods (hay nets, floor, rack, mangers, floor, feed bowls) recognition of hard feed eg cubes, mix, oats, barley, chaff, sugar beet; quality; storage; correct preparation; health and safety considerations when feeding; horse welfare.  Watering: importance of provision of water; presentation of water; methods of watering; health and safety considerations when watering; horse welfare

Basic feed ration for a horse:  amounts fed; weighing out; different feed types and amounts; provision of water; balanced diet; supplementation; reasons for rations (life stage, work stage, health status, fitness status); simple ration formula.  Nutrients: sources and function of water, carbohydrates, fats, protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals; importance of fibre to the diet

Work out a basic feed ration for a horse:  assessment of horses (weight, condition, work); daily feed ration calculation for different horses; use of simple formula; feeding horses using basic rations; monitoring and recording of daily feeding habits

Unit 3 Undertake Routine Stable Duties

Prepare, clean and maintain stables:  personal protective equipment (PPE); gather equipment for cleaning and maintaining stables eg fork, barrow, bucket; check equipment for suitability and safety; clean stables and yard to industry standards using correct equipment and procedures and abiding by health and safety and yard policy; dispose of waste safely and sustainably; check stables for hazards and carry out necessary maintenance tasks as required

Care and maintain storage and working areas:  tack room; yard; staffroom; feed store; hay store; water troughs or taps; office; school (indoor or outdoor); car parks and facilities specific to the yard; equipment stores.  Care and maintain: clean; tidy; free from equipment; correct storage to discourage vermin and pests; separation of animal and staff areas; health and safety; access for all; carry out maintenance as necessary

Routine stable duties:  Mucking out: tools; methods (mucking out, banking up, day beds, skipping out, bedding down, muck disposal); materials (straw, shavings, paper, deep litter, matting); horse safety; muck heap maintenance; health and safety issues; disposal of waste; PPE.  Yard duties: daily routine maintenance eg yard, feed and tack rooms, feed storage; yard responsibilities; safe and effective working practices; health and safety; environmental considerations.  Other routine husbandry tasks: assistance with other tasks eg shoeing, worming, vaccinating; record keeping

Daily checks on horses:  Horse daily health checks: hydration; temperature, pulse and respiration; appetite; movement; faeces and urine; mucous membranes; coat; frequency eg am, pm, during the day, late night; importance of checks; record keeping; reporting to eg supervisor, manager

Unit 4 Undertake Horse Handling

Handle and restrain horses:  Horse handling: horse behaviour in regard to handling techniques; health and safety issues of handling horses; physical and mental condition of the horse; capture methods.  Equipment: bridle; head collar; lunge line; chifney; twitch; selection and use of personal protective equipment (PPE); correct use of handling and restraint equipment.  Restraint: application of control methods and equipment; communication with assistants; health and safety.  Situations: preparing for exercise; turning out; maintenance eg grooming, treatment, health checks and clipping treatments

Horse handling: attitude of handler; influence of handler; correct approach; handling techniques; identification of horse’s body language; horse’s response to handling; physical condition and temperament of horse.  Restraint: reasons for restraining horses, need for restraint; methods of restraint including holding up a leg, pinching the skin on the neck, bridle, headcollar, lunge line, chifney and twitch; advantages and disadvantages of each method; animal welfare. Recognition of stress: signs of stress; when to seek assistance; animal welfare

Unit 5 Fit and Maintain Horse Tack and Clothing

Fit and remove horse clothing:  indoor rugs eg stable rug, thermal rug, summer sheet, sweat rug, surcingles; outdoor rugs, rain sheet.  Bandages: tail bandage, stable bandages, travel bandages. Boots: over reach boots, brushing boots

Fit and remove tack for exercise:  selection of equipment; taking measurements; testing for size.  Tack: snaffle bridles; general purpose saddles; martingales; nosebands; bits; breastplates; numnahs.  Boots: over reach boots; brushing boots.  Purpose of exercise: schooling; hacking; hunting; dressage; eventing; show jumping.  Storage: removal of equipment; cleaning and preparing before storage; method of storage (tack room, tack locker, trunk, lorry); presentation of equipment for storage

Clean and maintain tack:  Tack: take apart and reassembly of bridles and saddles, stirrups, girths.Cleaning: saddle soap; leather conditioner; sponges; cloths; procedures for cleaning tack and equipment; checking for safety and condition.  Principles of fitting: how to take measurements; testing the equipment; suitability of use; choice of equipment; checking for comfort and safety.  Signs and effects of ill-fitting tack and equipment

Unit 6 Maintain Animal Health and Welfare

Maintain the health and wellbeing of animals:  health records to include individual details of animals; date and time; visual signs of health such as eyes, ears, nose, mouth, dentition, coat/fur/feathers/skin, movement, posture, paws/ hooves, and tail; appropriate frequency of monitoring.  Signs of ill health: not eating/drinking; lack of normal bodily function; discharges from eyes, ears, mouth, nose; presence of unusual lumps, bumps, parasites; unusually slow movement; change in posture; swellings; not interacting with the group; loss of fur/feathers; dry skin; routine responses to abnormal and ill health observed. Wellbeing of animals: enrichment; exercise; metal and physical stimulation; access to own species;  emotional needs of animals; minimising stress occurrences; medical treatments available to prevent ill health

Maintain the welfare of animals:  Exercise routines: time of day to exercise; frequency of exercise; change in exercise during life stages eg young, old, ill, pregnant, lactating, working; ways to exercise; monitoring and recording of exercise times; consequences of over- and under-exercising; regime planning. Care and husbandry requirements: cleanliness; hygiene; exercise; mental stimulation; enrichment; correct feeding and watering; stocking with other animals. Current animal welfare legislation: eg Animal Welfare Act and the Five Animal Needs; Transport of Animals Order; Breeding and Sale of Dogs Act; Performing Animals Act; Dangerous Wild Animals Act; Welfare of Animals in Transit order; relationship between legislation and daily care of animals

Diseases and disorders, their prevention and treatment:  Common diseases and disorders: examples of viral, bacterial, metabolic diseases, stress (signs and symptoms for selected species eg for a dog – parvovirus, kennel cough, diabetes); related causes of disease and disorders. Prevention: vaccination; diet; exercise; parasite control; stocking density; appropriate monitoring intervals.  Treatments: topical; oral; injectable; supplements; limitations of treating animals in careImmunity: role of the immune system in disease; factors affecting immunity; ways of ensuring good immunity

Unit 7 Undertake Horse Grooming, Trimming and Plaiting

Clean and groom horses:  grooming kit – contents, use and maintenance; tying up; grooming procedure; full groom.

Foot care: picking out feet; recognising abnormalities eg overgrown feet, risen clenches, loose shoes, worn shoes recognising when the feet need attention; reporting to the appropriate person.Wash and dry: sponging off; full wash; climate; frequency; time; order; equipment eg shampoo, buckets, hosing, towels; care after washing

Trim and plait horses:  feathers; bridle gap; bottom of tail; equipment; preparation; procedure. Preparing manes: preparation; equipment; thinning; length; style; laying the mane. Plaiting: preparation; procedure; equipment eg thread, rubber bands; number of plaits; enhancing the neck; time taken; efficiency; removing plaits. Grooming: principles; reasons ie maintain condition, prevent disease, promote health, ensure cleanliness, improve appearance

Plaiting: reasons for plaiting; turn out requirements; number and type of plaits. Clipping: reasons; purpose; types of clip eg full, hunter, chaser, trace, blanket; safe procedures; environment; equipment; horse; handler; preparation; personal protective equipment (PPE); liaising with person clipping

Unit 8 Introduction to Keeping Horses at Grass

Assess grazing land for the introduction of horses:  Perimeter fences; assess electric fences; check fences for breaks/gaps; check for flat even ground for horses to graze to avoid injury; carry out rotation of horses on grazing land to ensure longevity of the grass; assess the area for poisonous plants and weeds; assess the quality and quantity of grass available; check for adequate shelter against prevailing weather; check water provision; assess access for horse and handlers

Turn out and catch up horses from grazing land:  Horse catching: check horses and area prior to turning out; monitor and assess the horses’ behaviour and interaction during grazing; check for hazards en route; assess the safety and suitability of equipment used to lead out or catch horses eg head collars, lead ropes etc; wear correct personal protective equipment (PPE) and abide by health and safety; ensure correct timing of turn out; correct aids for catching up horses eg food, treats etc

Maintain horses at grass:  Boundaries: types of boundaries eg electric fences; wooden fences; security and safety of alternatives; height; boundaries between horses; shelters – design; construction; materials used; direction facing

Factors: proximity of water supply to horses; poisonous plants and weeds eg ragwort, spear thistle, creeping of field thistle, broad leaved dock and curled dock; safety of horses and handlers in the field eg PPE, catching and handling techniques; frequency of skipping/picking the field and reasons for doing so; rotation of horses at grass to protect the land

Unit 9 Introduction to the Principles of Horse Behaviour

The roles of horses in society:  Evolution: major stages to include eohippus, miohippus, merychippus, pliohippus and equus; physical changes that have occurred throughout evolution; selection pressures eg climate change, environment, availability of foodstuffs, predator–prey relationships. Types and breeds: origins and distribution of the four types of primitive horse before domestication; links between environment and physical characteristics; development of modern day breeds.  Hot and cold blooded horses: cold bloods eg heavy horses, natives, cobs; hot bloods eg Arabs, barbs, thoroughbreds; physical characteristics; temperament; uses eg working, military, sporting, leisure

Natural lifestyle of the horse:  Natural instincts: herd living; prey animal; herbivore; fight or flight response. Natural lifestyle: herd make up of harem and bachelor groups; lifestyle eg grazing, foraging, sleeping, grooming, loafing, rolling, playing and mating; herd hierarchy.  Natural behaviours:communication methods; body language and outline; dominance; submission; aggression; fear; play; communication between herd members and social interaction. Handling:interpretation of horse body language and signals; identification of horse’s state eg excited, aggressive, fearful; safety of handler

Impact of domestication on the horse:  Differences in lifestyle: access to food and water; choice of diet; changes in feeding behaviour; social interaction; exercise; health; time budgets (length of time spent on different activities within a 24-hour period). Traditional management: adaptations to domestic life;stabling; restricted access to grazing; limited opportunities for social interaction; controlled exercise; changes in diet and feeding patterns; effects on behaviour Abnormal stereotypical behaviours: weaving; crib-biting; wind sucking; box walking; causes; signs; prevention; management by focusing on natural lifestyle and instincts; ‘treatments’ versus humane management

Monitor and report on horse behaviour:  Observation of behaviour: stabled horses eg loose boxes, American barn; grazing horses eg fields, paddocks, alone or with company; effects of routine and management; before and after periods of exercise or turn out; during feeding; with or without companions present; response to environment and stimuli.  Record observations:identification and recording of normal and abnormal behaviours; significance of observations; reporting findings; action to be taken

Unit 10 Introduction to Lungeing Horses

Lunge a horse under supervision:  Tack and equipment: selection of equipment eg lunge cavesson, bridle, saddle or roller, side reins, brushing boots; application and fitting of equipment; checking for safety; purpose and reasons for use of equipment.  Lungeing: following instructions; lungeing under supervision; appropriate circle size; maintenance of control throughout including halt, walk, trot, transitions and changing the rein; rhythm and balance; safe and effective use of the whip and lunge line; use of voice, language, body position and stance; health and safety

Common problems: problems with the horse’s way of going eg falling in, turning in, lazy, over-excited, unbalanced; remedies

 Reasons for exercising horses from the ground:  Reasons for lungeing:before exercise; horse with injured/sore back or mouth; no suitable rider; accustom horse to saddle; provide exercise; as part of a fitness or training programme, limited time available.  Planning and undertaking lungeing: environment ie weather, lungeing area; horse eg age, fitness, experience, training; experience of handler; personal protective equipment (PPE); length of session; reasons for lungeing; producing a plan; exercises and timing Long reining: reasons for long reining; procedures and techniques

Enrolment and Fees

Enrolments are accepted for all courses anytime throughout the year.

Following enrolment, you will receive access to online course information, course material and introductory exercises to complete prior to your first study week.

Full Payment

  • Online access to all course materials
  • Tutor support
  • Two five day study weeks
  • Does not include accommodation, breakfast and evening meals
  • Printing and postage fees (optional)
  • BTEC Registration fee £137.80 payable upon enrolment
Enrol now

Interest Free Finance

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  • As TOCES is an independent training organisation we are unable to access public funding for learners.  This means learners have to pay their own fees unless they are able to access funding via their school or local education authority.
  • Age 16-19:    You do not have to pay fees if you are under 19 on 31st August in the year your course starts.  Please discuss funding of this course with your school.
  • Non-funded:  If you are not eligible for funding the course fee is payable in full or via instalment upon enrolment.
  • Online access to all course materials
  • Tutor support
  • Two five day study weeks
  • Does not include accommodation, breakfast and evening meals
  • Printing and postage fees (optional)
  • BTEC registration fee £137.80 is payable by both funded and non funded students upon enrolment
Enrol now

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The Open College of Equine Studies
33 Pages Lane
Lower Green
Bury St Edmunds
IP28 6NJ

Registered Office:

The Open College of Equine Studies
Eldo House
Kempson Way
Bury St Edmunds
IP32 7AR
Company No. 04354226