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Working pupil facts

In the equine industry the term 'working pupil' is typically associated with someone who works at a yard, lives on the premises and keeps their horse there and, in return for this, they get training.

There is no legal definition of a “working pupil” and this term is not a legal employment status.

If you are a working pupil you are an employee/worker. 

Just like an employee, someone who is receiving training as part of their package MUST also receive a written statement of terms of employment (contract), NMW, paid holiday and then have the deduction of accommodation, as per the accommodation offset allowance, made to their gross salary.

If there is a cost for livery or training on your own horse, this must be invoiced and then, only with mutual written agreement this can can be deducted from the net salary; Critically it must be invoiced, for each pay period.

Whilst an equestrian yard can advertise for a ‘working pupil’, it is OK to use it as a descriptive job title, it is not an employment status and does not exempt the employer from paying someone at least the National Minimum Wage

"The words 'Working Pupil' immediately identify that the individual is a worker!

Thus the individual must be employed as such and anything otherwise is illegal and could result in a hefty fine for an employer from the HMRC. The employers that are using this term are naive and must modernise their approach.

I believe that it can be a great opportunity for any young person to be based at a professional yard and get deciated riding coaching, this experience can be invaluable. However, it must be legal and it is actually very simple for an employer to make it so.

I strongly urge parents to examine the terms of the position that is being offered and contact us for advice if they are unsure."

Lucy Katan, BGA Executive Director


Some frequently asked questions include: 

What is a Working Pupil?
Is it a legal employment status?
Is it OK to be given free training in return for work?
Can I go home whenever? I choose to be here?
Isn't a working pupil the same as an internship?
Is a working pupil the same as being on work experience?

To get the answers to all of these questions, visit 'My Employment' in Members Services

If you are not yet a member please join today to belong to your professional association and be a #smartgroom.

As a BGA member you also have access to our free advice line and we are happy to help answer any questions you have. 





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What the personal accident policy covers you for:

  • Whilst at work
  • All stable duties – mucking out, grooming, washing off, turning out
  • Clipping
  • Riding – including hacking and jumping
  • Hunting
  • Lunging
  • Breaking in
  • Holding horse for a vet and other procedures
  • Travelling horses both in the UK and abroad
  • Competing in line with your job including: jumping, dressage, eventing
  • Injuries that may happen to you whilst you are teaching - but you must also be grooming as part of your duties and not be a sole instructor

What the personal accident policy doesn’t cover you for:

  • Riding in a race, point to point or team chase
  • Stunt Riding
  • Accidents occurring whilst travelling to and from work
  • Riding and competing your own horse (but you can upgrade when applying for membership to include this)
  • Public Liability – this is a separate insurance policy - the Freelance Groom Liability Insurance
  • Care Custody and Control – this is a separate policy - the Freelance Groom Liability Insurance

If you require additional cover then please contact KBIS directly.


When you are working for other people you do most of the following; muck out, turn out/catch in, tack up, groom horses, exercise Horses (including hacking, jumping and schooling), in the care of your employer/client.




Predominantly ride horses for other people including schooling, exercising and competing.   

 Provide grooming services for someone else either full time or on a freelance basis i.e. an employer or a client.   


Employ staff – have an employers liability policy in your name NO NO YES
Buy and sell horses NO YES YES

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