Course type:

Diploma in Sporting Excellence 2021 - 2023

If you are an aspiring rider and want the opportunity to improve your performance via a blended learning programme consisting camps at Hartpury College and practical visits from an experienced mentor, then this course is for you. This blended learning programme in partnership with British Dressage, British Eventing, and British Showjumping offers a fantastic opportunity to develop an athlete.

The Hartpury programme offers a high quality training environment with access to modern sporting facilities and the benefits of Conditioning Experts, Physiotherapists, Nutritionists and Industry Experts.

Our talented Coaches and Mentors– who have a vast amount of competitive experience at the highest level – will encourage, nurture and support you through your elite development through the perfect scheme for aspiring riders.

Riders across all disciplines will complete shared core elements of the programme, alongside their specialist streams in either Dressage, Eventing, or Show jumping.  ​

Mentors will make regular visits to see students in their own training environments, supported by visits to high-profile yards with access to industry-leading professionals.

“Hartpury provides the ideal training environment for people to start their career in the industry. I’m proud to be part of the College and working with the next generation of riders.” Carl Hester | Hartpury Elite Dressage Coach | Olympic Gold Medallist

The programme reflects the broad range of skills, knowledge and performance required by elite level riders.  It measures your ability to plan, apply and evaluate your development in the technical, tactical, physical and psychological aspects of your sport.

Additionally, riders will consider Equine-specific units: Horse training programmes, Horse nutrition, Horse Health and Wellbeing, and Competition Performance.

What is the Diploma in Sporting Excellence?

A Level 3 qualification designed for riders who have the realistic potential to achieve excellence and are seeking to perform at the highest level. It covers all aspects of training and sports performance support to enable riders to push themselves to the next level.

The award is notionally a two-year programme for aspiring athletes going into their first year of Further Education, who are studying main academic qualifications at a school or other college. As a Level 3 Qualification, the diploma attracts 64 UCAS tariff points upon successful completion. The Diploma in Sporting Excellence will increase your riding performance and develop you as an individual.

How do I apply for September 2021?

Please contact Louise Dennis (DiSE Programme Manager at Hartpury College) with any course enquiries.

How to apply for this course

Course Duration

2 Year
2 Year course
Course type:
Full Time
Part-time study options available

Entry Requirements

Riders must have 5 GCSE grades at C or above, and be continuing in education at school or college. This is a minimum requirement to be considered for selection. You must also be resident in England and meet the sporting requirements below:


• Riders should be competing consistently at Medium level and above and achieving 65% or more. 
• (Applicants should have a minimum of four results at the level required in the 12 months prior to application).
• Riders will also be considered on younger horses (up to 7 years of age) who demonstrate the potential to compete successfully at International level and are already competing consistently at Elementary or above and achieving 70% or more. 
• Please note freestyle scores do not count towards minimum criteria.

Para-Equestrian Dressage

• Riders must have a current classification and should be consistently and currently scoring 62% in their relevant grade at BD Para Dressage Competitions. 
• Please note freestyle scores cannot be counted.


  • Top 25% of starters in a CCI1* / - from 1st July 2018, CCI2* (from 2019) to close of application date
  • Top 25% of starters in the 2018 National U18 Championships
  • Long listed for the 2018/19 Junior European Team
  • Long listed for the 2018/19 Pony European Team
  • Top 25% of starters at the 2018 U18 Regional Team Championships
  • 25% of starters in the 2018 Pony Club Open Championships

The qualifying (MER's) results are as follows:

FEI Qualification CCI1*(2018),  CCI2* (from 2019)


These results must have been achieved within British Showjumping classes since 1st Jan 2018.

  • 4 years; 90cm/ 1.00m - 4 double clears – minimum 1 double clear must be at 1.00m table A7.
  • 5 years; 1.00m / 1.10m 4 double clears – minimum 1 double clear must be at 1.10m table A7.
  • 6 years; 1.10m / 1.20m 4 double clears – minimum 1 double clear must be at 1.20m table A7.
  • 7 years; 1.20m / 1.30m 2 double clears – if no double clear at 1.30m must have 4 double clears at 1.20m table A7.
  • 8 years and above; 1.30m 4 double clears

Applications will be accepted from riders who are in their 16th year riding ponies, and have achieved a minimum 4 double clears 1.10m, one of which must have been Table A7 on their ponies. They must however, have moved onto horses and be riding horses for the duration of the programme.
Please be aware combinations achieving double clears at the biggest height per age category will be given priority selection.

Please note we will welcome applications that do not meet the sporting criteria if evidence can be provided to justify this.

Why study Equine at Hartpury College?

Hartpury’s world-class equine facilities are used not only for formal learning but also for work experience, including at our own commercial Equine Therapy Centre and in our events department, supporting our international showpiece events and other high quality competitions, with the chance to work with some of the stars of the equine world. Many students also complete work placements out in industry, including at top yards and riding centres and in marketing and commercial roles.

Two students riding their horses at Hartpury

How to apply

Apply online

To apply for a diploma course or A-levels at Hartpury College please complete an online application

What happens next?

Once we receive your application, we will write and invite you to attend an interview and written assessment with a member of staff on your chosen course. The interview is an opportunity to discuss the course content, ask any questions you may have and go on a tour of the campus.


If you are unable to complete an online application please contact

A Levels or a Diploma?

Are you unsure about whether A Levels or a BTEC Diploma are the right choice for you? Find out the key differences and which qualification would best suit your learning style and your career and further study ambitions on our dedicated page.

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