From 1st June 2016 Bachelor of Business in Equine (Level 7) students from Athlone Institute of Technology and Gurteen College are approved to instruct at AIRE approved equestrian centres.
The students having spent three years in equine specific full-time higher education and having passed modules in coaching at QQI Level 7 standard are well trained for employment within AIRE approved establishments. The Approval of this course will benefit AIRE affiliated establishments greatly as it will increase the number of potential employees who are educated specifically for work in this industry.
Athlone Institute of Technology offers a two-year Higher Certificate in Business in Equine (Level 6) in association with Gurteen College(AIRE APPROVED). Upon successful completion of this course, graduates have the option to continue their education with a further one-year add-on course - Bachelor of Business in Equine (Level 7).
Students undertake a range of modules covering a variety of both business and equine topics. Business modules are focused on the equine industry as much as possible with modules such as Marketing, Accounting and Entrepreneurship aiming to prepare students to manage a business such as a riding school or equestrian centre. Both courses involve considerable time dedicated to practical sessions with the horses in the equine facilities on campus at Gurteen College. In the first and third year students are based at Gurteen College to maximise the time spent developing practical skills with the horses. Second year students are based in Athlone and travel to Gurteen for a full day each week for equine related classes.
The practical sessions develop the student’s skills in equitation (dressage, show jumping and cross country), the care of horses and stable yard management. In the first year, students undertake an ‘Equine Work Experience’ module which involves the daily care of the horses under supervision at Gurteen College. This enables students to develop their practical horse care and handling skills to a high standard during their time at college. Students spend three half days riding each week in the first year, with another half day focusing on stable management and care of the horse. Practical equitation sessions focus on developing students’ ability to ride effectively and in balance on the flat and over fences.
In the third year, equine students are expected to take on more responsibility within the stable yard and equitation training becomes more competition and coaching focused. In the first semester the coaching module focuses on preparing students to teach group lessons and manage a riding school successfully. Practical assessments include commanding a group of riders through all paces and a variety of school figures. The importance of safety, best practice and correct procedure is stressed throughout all sessions. The second semester focuses on teaching a lunge lesson to improve a rider’s position and balance and also coaching a private lesson aiming to prepare horse and rider for competition. Students provide lesson plans and self-evaluations for all coaching practical assessments. Lectures for the coaching modules cover topics such as goal setting, lesson planning, lesson structure, coaching children, motivation, feedback, physical and mental fitness, taking hacks out, teaching lead rein lessons, managing a riding school, assessing and grading riders etc. Both modules involve a final written paper at the end of term which examines the students’ knowledge and understanding.
For approval in AIRE Approved Centres Bachelor of Business in Equine Level 7 Graduates from Athlone Institute of Technology will require copies of their degree certificate, QQI Level 5 First Aid, Safeguarding 1 and Garda Vetting from Horse Sport Ireland. During the above degree course students are encouraged to take BHS exam for further qualifications.