Working with horses in the UK


So you are thinking about working with horses in the UK? What an exciting prospect! But isn’t there a whole load of red tape, form filling and visa applications to do before you even get to touch a horse on UK soil? Sarah Huntley from Equine Elite Recruitment debunks some common myths and advises what you actually DO need to do in order to work in the UK and how to go about it.



First things first. You will most likely need a visa but, what is a visa? Basically a visa can be described as “…an endorsement on a passport indicating that the holder is allowed to enter, leave, or stay for a specified period of time in a country.” You can get a visa to allow you to travel to a country, but you require a different type of visa if you would also like to work in that country.

If you are a current Australian or New Zealand passport holder and between the ages of 18 and 30, you can apply for a Working Holiday Visa. If granted, this visa allows you to stay in the UK for up to two years. It’s relatively cheap (normally between $300-$500 AUD) and often one of the quickest visas to process. You also need to show proof that you have at least £1600 (around $3100 AUD) saved to support your stay in the United Kingdom. You can only apply for this visa once in your life and must have a valid passport from your home country. You cannot apply for this visa if you are already in the UK – so make sure you get your visa organised before leaving! Further information on applying for a working holiday visa for the UK can be found here


What do I want to do?

So now you have your visa, what next? I would recommend you have a think about the type of job and facility you would like to be part of when you travel to the UK. Through my recruitment agency Equine Elite, we get a large number of candidates from Australian and New Zealand looking for roles on competition yards, especially in eventing. The UK is now well-accepted as THE place to be if you are serious about your eventing with the majority of top international riders now based and competing in the UK and Europe. Browse the web, think about what experience you already have that might be relevant and target your search appropriately.


I know what I want to do, what now?

First, create/update your CV/resume. This is a hugely important document and it may be the difference between being offered a job or not. Ensure it is clearly and simply laid out, no longer than two pages and includes the following information:

  • Your Name
  • Current Address
  • Contact Details (phone and email address)
  • A brief personal statement – who are you, what experience do you have and what type of job are you looking for?
  • Relevant Employment History – What work have you done with horses before? What are your skills?
  • Education –  School / College / University


In a practical role, such as a working student or groom, the most desirable element of a resume is prior practical experience in a similar role. Formal qualifications in equine subjects are great but try to back this up with practical experience. If you can obtain a written reference from a previous employer, this will be a great addition to your application!

Browse the various job sites that cover the UK but remember that some top yards and riders don’t always advertise their roles publicly. Instead, contact them directly to see if they have any suitable vacancies.


Being a groom to a top rider is a big responsibility but you will be part of the best events in the world (pictured Rachel Watts, past groom for Chris Burton in the UK and now for Shane Rose in Australia)


The Personal Touch

Don’t forget to personalise your resume and introductory email to the specific job you are interested. If you are writing to William Fox-Pitt to ask for a job, make sure you tell him why it is HIM specifically you would like to work for and what you would like to achieve from the experience! This will always look better to a potential employer than a generic resume and cover letter.

Include some photos of you riding (if you do ride) and give the employer a rough date that you think you will be arriving in the UK.

Most high profile yards and riders now have their own websites, with full contact details on there so get on Google! I would suggest that, in addition to sourcing your own work, register your interest with a UK-based recruitment agency, such as Equine Elite too. This shows initiative, ambition and is a great start in obtaining work in the UK

If the employer is interested in your application, be prepared for a phone or Skype interview, so read up about the yard or rider beforehand, and make sure you have a few questions ready to ask during the interview – so you look and sound interested!


Agreeing Terms

Prior to flying out you have confirmed the days and hours of work, wage, accommodation, paid holiday with the employer. Guidelines on minimum wage requirements in the UK are here - so ensure that your potential employer is adhering to these. Don’t be shy at this stage as UK Employment Law entitles you to a minimum wage and a limit to working hours. If the employer is not adhering to these standards and is not willing to do so then you should go somewhere else. There are plenty of good employers out there who value their staff enough to pay them the legal requirement  – ask a reputable recruitment agency such for advice if you need to – we’re here to help


Up, up and away

If you are successful at this stage and have a job confirmed with a start date, book your flight and away you go!  Or perhaps you’d like to spend some time sightseeing or visiting friends in the UK before commencing employment? You could work the process the other way around. Arrive in the UK, and then start job hunting. With a shortage of good staff in the equestrian industry in the UK, many yards and facilities would hugely appreciate a competent groom from Australia or New Zealand. Don’t be shy – get in touch with the yards and agencies – tell them what you’re looking for, when you can start and what you can do!


Getting Around

But how do you get around when you’re in the UK? Can you drive if you have an Australian or New Zealand licence?  For most nationalities, if you have a full driving license from your own country, you can drive any small vehicle (e.g. car or motorcycle) listed on your full and valid license for 12 months from when you last entered Great Britain. Check if you are valid to drive using this handy tool here . Some yards will provide a car for their staff to share, or you might be able to purchase a small car once in the country to help you get around.



Although we all hope nothing goes wrong when we’re abroad, it is sensible to be prepared. Make sure you organise yourself with comprehensive travel insurance and also consider personal accident insurance if you want to work on a yard. Working with horses is a potentially dangerous job so it’s good to be covered. The British Grooms Association will be able to advise you on this


So there you go – a whistle-stop tour of some of the things you need to consider to work with horses in the UK. If you want to experience a new culture, way of life and gain experience, then go for it! And if you would like some advice and support throughout the process, get in touch with our team smiley


Article by Sarah Huntley, Equine Elite Recruitment

About Sarah

Sarah Huntley runs Equine Elite Recruitment – an international award-winning equestrian job board and recruitment agency. Sarah spent over 10 years as a professional competition groom working in the top levels of eventing, showjumping, dressage and showing in the UK, Europe, USA and Australia. She has groomed at some of the biggest events in the world and has been fully immersed in the equine world.   Sarah regularly recruits staff for clients in the UK, Europe and rest of the World including the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Middle East and Asia.