Course type:

Diploma in Sporting Excellence 2019-2021

In partnership with British Dressage, British Eventing, and British Showjumping, Hartpury College provides riders with opportunities to improve performance via a blended learning programme consisting of central ‘camps’ at Hartpury College and ‘home visits’ from the rider’s assigned mentor/assessor.

The Hartpury programme offers a high quality training environment, access to modern, well-equipped facilities and the benefits of conditioning experts, physiotherapists, nutritionists and mentors. Our talented coaches – 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 Showjumping.  ​

The programme consists of five central camps at Hartpury which must be attended:

  • Tuesday 22 and Wednesday 23 October 2019
  • Wednesday 19 and Thursday 20 February 2020
  • Tuesday 14 and Wednesday 15 April 2020
  • Wednesday 28 and Thursday 29 October 2020
  • Tuesday 16 February 2021

To supplement this time mentors will make regular visits to see students at home in their own training environment, and visits to high-profile yards with access to industry-leading professionals are included.

“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 sports people. It measures the rider’s ability to plan, apply and evaluate their development in the technical, tactical, physical and psychological aspects of their sport. It also addresses wider issues such as nutrition, lifestyle, career development, communication, and health and safety.

Additionally, riders will consider four 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 riders in Year 12, who are also studying other academic qualifications at a school or college. As a Level 3 qualification, the Diploma attracts 64 UCAS Tariff points upon successful completion, this the equivalent of two A Levels at Grade C.

How do I apply?

Please contact Louise Dennis (DISE Manager at Hartpury College) to request an application form. The deadline for applications for this year is 31 July 2019.

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.

Similar Courses

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.

Find out more