Intermediate Apprenticeship in Thoroughbred Stud Work

General programme details and entry criteria

The Intermediate Apprenticeship in Thoroughbred Stud Work (IA) is a Government funded scheme that allows young people to take up vocational training instead of attending college or university. An IA framework is made up of several qualifications that all need to be achieved in order to be awarded the Intermediate Apprenticeship certificate. The National Stud’s scheme is open to 18 to 23 year olds, who have no prior experience with horses and have not completed an undergraduate or similar level qualification. If you are under 18 please contact us at the Stud to discuss other opportunities available.

If you are over the upper age limit or think you may not be eligible for our IA programme please contact us or look at the TBA Entry to Stud Employment (E2SE) course as that may be more suitable. The IA and E2SE residential courses run concurrently at The National Stud.

The IA recruits throughout the year with interviews held in spring and summer.  There are a maximum of 12 places on the 9 week residential programme at the National Stud, which starts in mid-October. Prior experience with horses is not required and no advantage is given to those who do have prior experience with horses. However, a commitment to work hard and learn from the bottom up and the ability to work in a closely knit team are mandatory.

The 9 week residential programme prepares trainees for the workplace by teaching them enough basic stud work skills and knowledge to join a stud workforce as a trainee. If the residential element is passed then trainees will be offered an interview for a work placement as a trainee stud hand on a stud farm. The IA only starts once a trainee starts the paid employment. The minimum period of continuous employment is 12 months to achieve the full IA framework. Throughout the 9 weeks onsite and the 12 months in work trainees are visited, supported and assessed by National Stud training staff.

GCSE grade C or above in Maths and English (Lit. or Lang.) is required by the IA framework, however if these are not held a Functional Skill (FS) Level 2 qualification in Maths and English will be accepted. It is highly recommended that if neither GCSE’s or FS’s are held that an applicant attempts to achieve them prior to attending the 9 week course as otherwise they will miss valuable practical stud work training in order to attend FS’s classes.

Please note that during the residential 9 weeks a trainee may be asked to leave at any time if their performance or behaviour is below expected standards. During the 12 months in employment, trainees are subject to all normal employee requirements and the individual employer’s staff policies. Completing an IA is reliant on being in employment, if the employment status is lost the IA will have to be suspended or depending on circumstances terminated.

Syllabus overview

The 9 week residential programme covers basic horse handling, knowledge and care topics specifically for the Thoroughbred breeding industry. Trainees do daily work on yards mucking out and other routine tasks. They will get to handle a variety of horses in order to gain the confidence and practical skills to be safe around horses. In addition, trainees will access a range of additional learning that will help prepare them for working in the stud industry. Once in employment trainees will be a junior member of their employer’s team and will be expected to participate fully in the workings of the stud under the supervision and guidance of an experienced member of staff.

Accommodation and Board

During the 9 week residential course all accommodation and board is provided for free via Government funding. Trainees will need to have sufficient funds to purchase personal items, join in social events and get home during time off or in an emergency. Once in employment stud farms usually provide accommodation for their staff, usually in shared accommodation and on a single occupancy basis. There may be a range of financial contributions towards this provision, but each case is individual.

Apprenticeship trainees will be paid for their work during the employed placement. The rate of pay will be variable but will reflect their age and experience and will be no lower than the minimum legal rate for an Apprentice.


After the 9 week residential programme, all trainees should have achieved:

• Level 1 in Horse Care
• Basic Emergency First Aid
• Manual Handling Awareness
• Introduction to using small machinery – subject to driving licence requirements
• Relevant online certificates related to H&S and employment
• Recommendation for employment with a stud farm.

After 12 months in paid employment:

• Level 3 Award in Transporting Horses on Short Journeys
• Level 2 Certificate in the Principles of Horse Care
• Level 2 Work Based Diploma in Racehorse Care (Breeding option)
• Apprenticeship Framework Certificate

Fees and application process

The 9 week residential training, board and accommodation is FREE to trainees registered to achieve the Level 1 Horse Care via a Government funding contract. However, there are additional costs that each trainee will need to fund:

• £75 Contribution towards the group social fund, which will include the subsidised 12 month membership fee to The Thoroughbred Club.
• Refundable accommodation deposit of £250 per student for the 9 week residential period.

• In addition, trainees will need to provide a correctly fitted skull cap (with or without silk cap), a pair of comfortable, well-fitting protective toe cap boots and a pair of gloves suitable to wear during the handling of horses.

A full list of clothes and equipment needed for the course will be made available to successful applicants.

Application is easy, download the application form, fill in the required sections and return it to the training department.

Employment and progression opportunities

After completing the Intermediate Apprenticeship at Level 2, trainees can take a number of options:

• As a qualified stud hand remain in full time employment either in the UK or overseas. Several part time qualifications are available for career development opportunities whilst employed.
• Progress to the Advanced Apprenticeship at Level 3 whilst in employment in the UK.
• Apply for the Diploma in Stud Practice and Management at The National Stud or an alternative higher level programme of study.

What have past Apprentices said about the experience?

“I wanted to work with horses and get qualifications and no other equine sport has the reputation of Thoroughbreds. When I found out about the Apprenticeship it seemed perfect – a course with a job at the end. The National Stud opened the door for me. They gave me all the tools and knowledge I needed to do a good job in my placement and to progress beyond.”                          Apprentice graduate 2014

“The National Stud’s Pre-Apprenticeship, led to my completion of the Apprenticeship whilst in employment. Both elements gave me a solid grounding to take my career forward. Without the Apprenticeship I would not have had the same opportunities.”                     Apprentice graduate 2015

“the 9 weeks at the Stud were just the best time ever – we learnt such a lot and made great friends. We are now all working on studs and  enjoying the apprenticeship”     Current Apprenticeship trainee      


I have already completed an Apprenticeship/Level 2/Degree qualification or am too old to apply for the Apprenticeship Scheme – What can I do?
If your Apprenticeship was not in Horse Care then you should be able to do the stud work Apprenticeship if you fit the other criteria.

If you have done a Level 2 Horse Care qualification you could progress to an Advanced Apprenticeship at Level 3, please contact us for further advice.

If you do not fit the Apprenticeship entry criteria please look at the E2SE option which is designed to help people who do not qualify for an Apprenticeship Scheme to get funded training, qualifications and the first 6-9 months of employment in the industry.

Do I need to have had my own horse or have prior experience of working with Thoroughbreds?
Many of the Apprentices will have never touched a horse before, but all will have a clear career goal to work in the breeding industry.

Do I need to be super fit?
It will help if you play sports and are physically active as stud work is hard and involves plenty of physical work. If you are not very fit at interview we will advise you that you will need to improve your level of fitness prior to attending the 9 week course.

What time off do Apprenticeship trainees get?
Whilst at the National Stud trainees will usually work from 7.30am to 4.30pm with morning and lunchtime breaks. There will be some compulsory evening activities/lectures. Trainees will also work every other weekend. Working during the December Sales will require early mornings and late finishes. Once in placement it will be dependent on the employer’s policy, but be aware having every weekend off is very unlikely.

Do I need lots of academic qualifications to apply for the Apprenticeship?
No, an Apprenticeship is designed to assess practical and vocational skills. However, GCSE or Functional Skills qualifications are required to complete an Apprenticeship Framework. More advice on this is available from the Training Department, please use the contact form to ask any specific questions.

Can I bring my horse with me to the National Stud or into work placement?
It is impossible for you to look after your own horse and do the course. Nor should you expect to be able to take it with you to your work place. Thoroughbred studs do not want non-breeding stock on their land and will not have the facilities for staff horses.

Can I bring my pets with me to placement?
Initially your focus needs to be on establishing yourself in a job. Many employers may allow pets but it is not guaranteed and arrangements for alternative keepers for all pets need to be made just in case. Certainly most employers are not going to allow pets from the outset and only by proving to be a valuable member of the team could that situation change.

Can my boyfriend/girlfriend/family visit me and stay at the provided accommodation?
This is very individual to each stud. Our advice is NEVER assume that it is okay to have guests and visitors stay, particularly if the accommodation is shared. Again this is something that might be very clearly banned from the outset of employment or something that can be discussed once you are established as a keen member of the team.