BSc (Hons) Equestrian Sports Performance

If you dream of a career immersed in the equestrian sports performance industry, this degree is for you.

This course focuses on the athletic performance of horse and rider and preparing students for a career in equestrian performance, coaching or team performance management.

With the UK equestrian sector generating £4.7 billion of consumer spending, 3 million regular riders, nearly one million resident horses and 6.4% of the equestrian population being within a competitive club (BETA, 2019), there has never been a better time to pursue a career in the equine sports performance industry.

Course Overview

Thanks to our strong industry partnerships, graduates will not only have the necessary combination of knowledge, skills and experience but will graduate as very career ready individuals able to contribute to the success and growth of the equestrian performance industry.

Course Features

  • Use of our commercial equestrian centre with three riding arenas
  • Understanding of underlying factors affecting performance
  • Range of techniques to enhance performance
  • Extensive input from industry partners
  • Sports performance analysis

Career Options

  • Performance coach
  • Team manager
  • Equestrian biomechanics analyst
  • Equestrian poor performance analysts
  • Employed or self-employed roles within a competitive team
  • Equestrian sport performance roles
  • Management roles in equine welfare and allied industry sectors

Course Information

The ESP programme is directed towards the competitive rider who wishes to extensively explore the area of sports performance equally divided between the human and equine athlete over the course of the three years.

  • A minimum of 112 tariff points from A and AS levels. A science subject is preferred
  • Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma (first teaching from September 2016) – a minimum of grade DMM in an Animal, Equine or Science related subject
  • Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma (first teaching from September 2016) – a minimum of grade D*D* in an Animal, Equine or Science related subject
  • City & Guilds Level 3 Technical Advanced Extended Diploma (1080 – first awarded in 2019) – a minimum of grade DMM in an Animal, Equine or Science related subject
  • City & Guilds Level 3 Advanced Technical Extended Diploma (720 – first awarded in 2019) – a minimum of grade D*D* in an Animal, Equine or Science related subject
  • Mature students (aged 21+) will be considered on an individual basis on their prior knowledge and experience. This may be assessed by interview, completion of coursework/essay or other methods. There may be a requirement for a formal qualification to be completed first e.g. Access to Higher Education course
  • RC4003 – Introduction to Psychology for Equestrian Sports
  • RC4005 – Equine Sports Horse Industry and Management
  • RC4043 – Equine Anatomy and Physiology
  • RC4009 – Introduction to Rider Fitness and Training
  • RC4011 – Principles of Equitation
  • RC4111 – Scientific Data Collection and Analysis
  • RC5001 – Equine Nutrition and Health
  • RC5002 – Equine Exercise Physiology and Biomechanics
  • RC5010 – Physiological Measurement Techniques for Equestrian Performance (optional)
  • RC5011 – Sports Nutrition for Equestrian Athletes (optional)
  • RC5036 – Equine Injury and Rehabilitation
  • RC5502 – Work Based Learning for the Land Based Industries (optional)
  • RC5508 – Experiential Learning (optional)
  • RC5509 – Research Methods
  • RC6007 – Biomechanical Analysis of Equestrian Performance (optional)
  • RC6008 – Rider Performance Optimisation (optional)
  • RC6010 – Contemporary Issues and Developments in Equestrian Sports
  • RC6024 – Advanced Equine Nutrition (optional)
  • RC6032 – Equine Fitness and Performance
  • RC6506 – Dissertation at Reaseheath (40 credits)

Choose two optional modules

The programme is designed to allow the students to have options at all levels that would ideally reflect their chosen career path upon graduation. 

  • Level 4: SIX core modules with ONE optional module 
  • Level 5: FOUR core modules with TWO optional modules 
  • Level 6: FOUR core modules with TWO optional modules 
  • Optional modules are normally chosen during March of the academic year to then be delivered the following academic year. 

Incoming students are requested to choose their modules online via the University of Chester portal before commencement of their degree. 

Modules will need to have a minimum of 6 students for them to be offered for delivery.

Overall workload

Your overall workload consists of class contact hours, independent learning and assessment activity, plus field trips. Your actual contact hours may depend on which optional modules you select, but the following information gives an indication of how much time you will need to allocate to different activities at each year of the course: 

Year 1:  

33% of your time is spent in timetabled teaching and learning activity 

Teaching, Learning and Assessment:       391 hours 

Independent Study:                                        809 hours 

Year 2:  

24% of your time is spent in timetabled teaching and learning activity 

Teaching, Learning and Assessment:       283 hours 

Placement:                                                         150 hours 

Independent Study:                                        767 hours 

Year 3:  

15% of your time is spent in timetabled teaching and learning activity 

Teaching, Learning and Assessment:       174 hours 

Independent Study:                                        1026 hours 

Cohort sizes vary between 4 and 12 students presently. 

Assessment Methods

Assessments are designed to encourage both academic skills and skills valued in the workplace. They include a combination of coursework and examinations. Coursework may take many forms including: essays, reports, data processing, presentations, academic posters, seminar discussions, interviews, critical reviews, portfolios of evidence and practical competency assessments. The examinations vary, depending on the nature of the module, but may take the form of multiple-choice papers, essays, practical assessments, data handling questions, short answer quizzes, and in class examinations.  

The balance of assessment by examination and assessment by coursework depends to some extent on the optional modules you choose. The approximate percentage of the course assessed by coursework is as follows: 


Year 1 

42% coursework 

37% written exams 

22% practical 


Year 2 

66% coursework 

28% written exams 

6% practical 


Year 3 

70% coursework 

14% written exams 

16% practical 


Opportunities for feedback on your progress will be available throughout your course. This will be provided in many formats, including written and verbal. Feedback on graded work is supplied via Turnitin or directly from the module tutor. The majority of assessment submissions are made via Turnitin and feedback for coursework is provided within 20 working days after the submission date. If for unforeseen reasons this is not possible, the reasons will be communicated to the students within 2 weeks and the feedback prioritised within the department. 

Written feedback will be supported verbally should the student require clarification. Formative assessment feedback will be provided at the time of completion where possible, with more detailed summative feedback for reports. 

During induction week, the students are given an Induction Timetable, which is located within a course specific brochure. 

The main timetable will be distributed by the end of the Induction week.  Students will be expected to attend all timetabled sessions, over the scheduled 3 days per week currently. 

To safeguard the wellbeing of our horses, comply with health and safety requirements, ensure high levels of animal welfare and ensure a high-quality student experience we have to make an assessment of who can ride our horses safely, and this is based on a number of factors.  These factors can impact on our decisions regarding which students are able to ride as part of their course.   

Current research from the Saddle Research Trust and Animal Health Trust with leading equine professionals, scientists and researchers has advised that horses should only be carrying 10- 20% of their own optimum bodyweight when being ridden, this includes the clothing and tack used. If carrying over 20%, there is a substantial effect on the horse’s gait, behaviour, soundness and welfare in response to rider weight. 

The pool of horses that we have access to at the College does fluctuate each year, but we try to ensure that their general size, age and health are reasonably constant within an agreed tolerance, to appeal to and accommodate as many students as possible.  However, this does mean that for some students who are at either end of the optimum height and weight for our horses, we may not be able to allow them to ride safely as part of their course.  General guidelines for height/ weight ratios can be found below, however, this is used as a guide and are only one part of a holistic assessment of the individual for riding.  An experienced and qualified member of staff will assign horses to students for riding and rider height and weight will be considered to ensure both horse welfare and the health and safety of the individual. 

Rider weight guidelines: 

Height Weight (st) Weight (Kg) 

Upto 4’10” 9 57 

4’11 – 5’2” 10 64 

5’3 – 5’6” 11 70 

5’7” – 5’9” 12 76 

5’10” – 6’1” 13 82.5 

6’2” – 6’4”           14          89 

6’5” upwards     15          95.2 

Whilst rider height, weight and fitness are factors in our riding assessment, it is important that students do not view this as any prompt to eat or diet unhealthily.   

The main factors we have to consider when assessing suitability of riders in the Equestrian Centre are: 

  • Weight a horse can carry safely 
  • Rider weight and height 
  • Rider ability and balance 
  • Level and duration of work 
  • Range and frequency of use 
  • Availability of horses 

Our rider assessment involves an initial questionnaire to be completed by the student, which will evaluate rider experience. Following successful acceptance of the initial paper assessment, students will need to attend a holistic Ride Standard Setting Session to assess student riding ability on the mechanical horse. If riding skills are suitable, students will then progress to an assessment on a live horse, with extensive feedback provided by one of our BHS coaches. 

Tuition Fees

As a student at UCR, you will have two main costs to meet; your tuition fees and living costs.

Our full-time tuition fees for UK and EU students, entering University, can be found on our student finance page. These fees are charged for each academic year of a course and are set by the college annually.

Tuition fees for international students can also be found on our student finance page.

Additional Costs

The Equine department have run an optional study tour in the past. Costs are around £350 depending upon destination, time of year and method of travel and accommodation types.

Yard uniform would be expected to be worn for all practical sessions; details from the Reaseheath Equine department would be sent out with joining instructions. Students would be expected to provide their own PPE with minimum riding hat standard of PAS015, Level 3 (Blue; 2018) body protector (for jumping if riding) and suitable leather riding boots (not chaps).

Equipment Costs

Student can expect costs to be in the region of £300, to include PPE of an approved riding hat, riding boots, gloves, and a good waterproof coat (without a hood) as well as navy blue jodhpurs and navy-blue polo shirt.

Prices of equipment are subject to change dependent on retailer.

Apply directly through UCAS

A minimum of 112 UCAS points

September 2022
September 2023

Full-time: 3 years

Useful Information

Here you will find useful information about the services and support available at University Centre Reaseheath. Click to expand each item:

University Centre Reaseheath is committed to providing additional financial support to those who need it. To find out about the bursary schemes available visit the additional financial support pages.

For students to get the best out of their time at University Centre Reaseheath, we must both recognise that we owe obligations to each other. These obligations are set out in our UCR Student Contract. Before you accept an offer of a place at University Centre Reaseheath, it is important that you read these contract conditions. If you are going to be living in Halls of Residence, you will also need to read the Student Accommodation Licence Conditions. Both of these contracts can be found here.

Click here to view the University Centre Reaseheath Student Protection Plan.

All UCR students are given the opportunity to apply for residential accommodation. First year students are guaranteed accommodation and this offer is made to all applicants who live more than a reasonable daily travelling distance from Reaseheath (providing you have applied before the UCAS equal considerations deadline. For full details on our halls of residence visit our accommodation page.

We have a team of dedicated professionals on hand to offer you support. These include our Student Services Team, Inclusive Learning Team, Library and Learning Resources Team and the Reaseheath Careers Service. You can find more information on the support provided at Reaseheath on our support page.

University Centre Reaseheath is proud to welcome international students. For more information, please visit our international students page.