From 1st June 2016 Bachelor of Business in Equine (Level 7) students from Athlone Institute of Technology were approved to instruct at AIRE approved equestrian centres. This course is no longer running however the student qualifications are recognised by AIRE.
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 offered 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 had the option to continue their education with a further one-year add-on course - Bachelor of Business in Equine (Level 7).
Students undertook 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 involved 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 were based at Gurteen College to maximise the time spent developing practical skills with the horses. Second year students were based in Athlone and travelled to Gurteen for a full day each week for equine related classes.
The practical sessions developed 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 undertook an ‘Equine Work Experience’ module which involved the daily care of the horses under supervision at Gurteen College. This enabled students to develop their practical horse care and handling skills to a high standard during their time at college. Students spent 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 focused on developing students’ ability to ride effectively and in balance on the flat and over fences.
In the third year, equine students were 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 focused on preparing students to teach group lessons and manage a riding school successfully. Practical assessments included commanding a group of riders through all paces and a variety of school figures. The importance of safety, best practice and correct procedure was stressed throughout all sessions. The second semester focused 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 provided lesson plans and self-evaluations for all coaching practical assessments. Lectures for the coaching modules covered 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 involved a final written paper at the end of term which examined 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, current First Aid Responder, Safeguarding 1 and Garda Vetting from Horse Sport Ireland. During the above degree course students were encouraged to take BHS exam for further qualifications.