Equine Academy: support for talented riders

The Equine Academy at ARU Writtle supports 6-12 talented riders every year. It offers training sessions for the rider and stabling for the horse. You'll have access to our equine facilities and experienced support staff.

Applicants, who will ideally be competitive equestrians, should be studying a higher education degree at ARU Writtle. It does not have to be an equine degree.

Student and horses in the stable block at ARU Writtle



This is a non-financial package of support. It includes either:

  • training for established competition rider/horse combinations or
  • a place on our Performance Horse Production Pathway (PHPP) for a further 4-6 competition-level riders.

What the Equine Academy will provide for the rider:

  • group and individual ridden training sessions with resident coaches, including periodic re-assessment
  • group training sessions with professional external trainers
  • fitness training including sport psychology sessions, Pilates classes, cardiovascular training, coaching sessions, gym strengthening sessions and nutrition advice
  • individualised yearly planner for competitive progress and goal setting, with some classroom-based theory learning
  • high-intensity technical and tactical planning sessions.

What the Equine Academy will provide for the horse:

  • a dedicated space in the Academy Block of our DIY Livery stables with an associated 'en suite' sand-pen
  • therapeutic assessment by qualified veterinary physiotherapists or chiropractic staff, including regular massages by supervised veterinary physiotherapy or sports therapy students
  • biomechanical gait assessment to include the use of pressure-monitoring systems for saddle/rider asymmetry and rein balance
  • nutrition advice from qualified nutritionists.


You'll be required to pass and excel at your academic assessments, alongside your riding commitments, throughout the year to retain your Equine Academy place.

We expect you to have an exemplary attendance record and convey a commitment to academic sessions.

It's expected that Equine Academy members will become ambassadors for the Academy and may, for example, help with demonstrations at Open Days or become involved in marketing initiatives. You must also support fellow students on the yard, offering to become mentors to encourage and develop other students. You should be able to work as part of a team and maintain professional standards at all times, whether in the stable barn or as a rider representing ARU when competing at events.

We'll ask you to chart your development and success, and the progress of Academy horses, by writing a blog and sharing updates via social media channels (for example Facebook, Twitter or Instagram).


Following a successful application, you'll be a member of the Equine Academy for one academic year.

You can re-apply for future academic years, though please note there is no guarantee of a place.


To apply, you should:

  • be a dedicated (and ideally competitive) equestrian. You will understand your goals and see them realised with the support and guidance of experienced and professional in-house and guest coaches, whether your discipline is dressage, showjumping, eventing or another recognised horse sport
  • be a student enrolled on, or an applicant for, any higher education degree at ARU Writtle. It does not have to be an equine degree
  • be training, and ideally competing in an affiliated discipline or equivalent, at or above the following levels: BS – British Novice/Discovery; BD - Novice/Elementary; BE - BE90/BE100. Other disciplines will be considered on an individual basis
  • have membership of an affiliated discipline or Riding Club/Pony Club membership
  • have evidence of some competitive experience
  • have your own horse
  • be prepared to keep and pay for your own horse on the DIY Livery Yard, in the Academy Block.

Ideally all applicants will be living in Halls of Residence at ARU Writtle, or close to Cow Watering Campus.

These requirements also apply to the Performance Horse Production Pathway (PHPP), without the stipulation to own your own horse.

We recognise that for some talented riders, such as international students, bringing a horse to university may not be possible. In this instance we will consider involving you in a range of riding opportunities which could include re-training, re-habbing or potentially producing, a University-owned horse. Experience and flexibility are required of any students wishing to be involved in the Performance Horse Production Pathway.

As the PHPP is potentially a business model, any PHPP horses could be produced, sold, or integrated into the Writtle equine facility. PHPP horses will have their basic maintenance costs covered and riders working with PHPP horses will need to enter into a contract to ensure clarity of responsibilities.

How to apply

For more information and to apply contact [email protected].

We ask you to submit a 1,500 word written application, accompanied by a 10-15 minute video evidencing the rider and horse combination’s flat work and some jumping, if applicable.

You should provide a reference from a qualified instructor, riding club committee member, Pony Club District Commissioner or professional rider in your intended discipline. If using a professional rider as a reference, you must have spent time training or employed as a member of the rider’s yard team.

We'll invite shortlisted applicants to a viewing day for initial assessment. This typically takes place in August.

Find out if you are successful

If your application to the Equine Academy is successful, we'll confirm by email. The email will also note when you can bring your horses onto campus; this is usually over the weekend before your course induction.

If your application is not at first successful, it will be ranked and placed on a waiting list. We may be able to offer a place in the Equine Academy if a space becomes available.

The Equine Academy at ARU Writtle is supported by Birkett Long Solicitors.

Birkett Long Solicitors logo