AH Test / AH Test Syllabus

Only those 16 years or over are eligible for the ‘AH’ Test.
Recommended minimum age: 17 years

Click here to download a copy of the AH Syllabus

Standards of Efficiency Test Sheet 2012

The Pony Club AH Test stands alone as the highest Test of Horsemastership available in The Pony Club.  It is a pre-requisite for the A Test Riding, replacing the Horsemastership section of that Test.  It is recommended that where possible, candidates should take the two tests within a year of each other.


The candidates should:

  • Show a wide experience of caring for and handling different types of horses and ponies.
  • Have the experience and knowledge to be able to look after two fit competition horses, a fit competition pony, a recuperating horse, an elderly retired horse and a mare and foal turned out.
  • Be able to ride and lead for exercise.
  • Support practical work shown with logical theory relevant to the individual horses.
  • Carry out practical work swiftly and safely showing familiarity with the tasks.
  • Be able to lunge fresh, fit, and possibly naughty horses as a form of exercise.
  • Understand how the systems of the horse affect daily care in fit and resting horses.
  • Recognise the symptoms of ailments and the problems that may arise from these, and be able to undertake suitable action.
  • Understand the considerations when breeding from a mare.
  • Be aware of modern practices; all theory must be grounded, and candidates must be able to apply their knowledge to the horses supplied during the Test.
  • The assessor will expect the candidate to show normal daily competence in their answers, but also the ability to observe any unusual behaviour or problem and to suggest a sensible solution.
  • All work should demonstrate safe procedures to maintain the welfare and safety of horse and candidate.


Two horses tacked up; saddles, two snaffle bridles, breastplates, boots, rugs (if inclement weather). Mounting block (if possible).

Ride and Lead and Leg Up

A1. Take two horses out of the stables; mount, ride and lead unaided using snaffle bridles.  Lead horse may be tied up outside. Highway Code.
A2. ‘Put up’ a person on a horse by giving a leg up.
A3. Discuss compatibility of the two horses, and the advantages and disadvantages of riding and leading.


One shod horse in stable yard
Farrier’s tools and remedial shoes, varying studs if possible
Grooming kit, including a strapping pad or wisp
Clipping and trimming tools
Well equipped tack room

Stable Yard

A4. Consider the practical planning of a stable yard to enhance the welfare of the horses, considering different building materials and useful labour-saving devices.
A5. Explain how yards can be maintained, and how to create teamwork within family, friends and colleagues so tasks can be completed effectively.
A6. Discuss some of the types of bedding available, including storage, muck heap and disposal.
A7. Precautions to be taken against fire and burglary, in and around the stables and yard. Know the legal requirements for fire extinguishers and electrics.  Discuss some security systems available for yards.
A8. Know what current legislation it is advisable to consider when owning a horse.
A9. Consider current Health and Safety legislation, and apply it to the way a yard is run.
A10. Explain how to purchase, store and ensure the quality of feed, both economically and safely, using efficient practice for feeding regimes.  Include rodent control.
A11. State the advantages of Pony Club insurance.  Discuss what other forms of insurance may be advisable when keeping horses at home or in a commercial yard.
A12. Describe why it is important to record accidents and incidents and where these should be recorded. Know what the acronyms COSHH and RIDDOR stand for, and why it is important to know about them.
A13. Outline actions to be taken in the event of an accident to a person on a stable yard.
A14. Explain the importance of communication with farrier, vet, and other yard users.

Foot and Shoeing

A15. Discuss the structure of the horse’s foot and lower leg.
A16. Discuss the balance of the foot, relating it to the horses shown. Identify a well shod foot.
A17. Notice and discuss remedial or corrective shoeing, pads, wear of shoes and relate this to movement or possible unsoundness.
A18. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the use of studs.
A19. Show how to remove a loose shoe. Know which tools to use, either farrier’s or substitutes if they are not available.
A20. Evaluate the prognosis for diseases and ailments related to the foot, bearing in mind future plans for the horse.


A21. Compare the advantages and disadvantages of classical and modern methods of grooming fit horses.
A22. Demonstrate strapping and modern alternatives and discuss the reasons for them.
A23. Explain why it is important to wash a sheath, and how it is done.
A24. Discuss current methods of cooling horses and ponies after hard work.
A25. Explain the care of horses’ teeth, and show how to examine for sharp or wolf teeth.
A26. Show basic knowledge of the nervous system; discuss how the sensory systems affect our handling of horses.

Clipping, Trimming and Plaiting

A27. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of the different ways of pulling manes and tails.
A28. Show how to trim the horse’s legs and heels.
A29. Show how to plait manes and tails.
A30. Discuss clipping a nervous or difficult horse, considering the safety of the person clipping, the preparation of the horse, the environment and the care of the clippers.
A31. Describe types of clip and their uses. Explain how to mark horses for various types of clip. 


Lunge area - Horse to be lunged (tacked up), lunge whip and lunge line.


B1. Check the horse’s equipment.
B2. Work the fit horse for exercise on the lunge in a safe, efficient, effective and practical way.
B3. Recognise the quality of work shown.
B4. All work must demonstrate care to maintain the safety and welfare of the horse and handler.


A nearby field to discuss
One mare in a stable

Paddock Management

B5. Estimate the acerage of a field shown to you and discuss how many horses you would keep on it.
B6. Know how to avoid worm infestation.
B7. Explain various pasture routines, including how grassland quality can be improved.
B8. Discuss the identification and eradication of poisonous plants.
B9. Know the precautions necessary during and after use of sprays, fertilisers, lime, etc.
B10. Describe advantageous and disadvantageous grasses.

Care and Handling of Mares, Foals and Young Stock

B11. Discuss what factors may influence the choice of broodmare or stallion.
B12. Discuss the differences between natural covering, artificial insemination and embryo transplant, and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
B13. Explain the veterinary procedures required before a mare can go to stud.
B14. Be able to recognise and discuss when a mare is in season.
B15. Know the factors behind the choice of service date – and describe the basic outline of a covering programme.
B16. Discuss foaling environments, facilities and equipment, selection, preparations and procedures.
B17. Describe care of an in-foal mare, including feeding, worming and testing routines.
B18. Describe the inoculations required for a brood mare and foal.
B19. Determine whether or not to foal at home.
B20. Be able to recognise the signs of a mare about to foal.
B21. Compare a normal birth to a situation requiring veterinary attention.
B22. Discuss problems and solutions that may arise with mares, foals and young stock.
B23. Discuss the deciding factors in whether to return a mare to stud or not.
B24. Explain how to travel mares and foals safely.
B25. Discuss the timing and procedure of weaning foals.
B26. Compare the advantages and disadvantages and timing of gelding colts.
B27. Outline the care of young stock up to the age of three years.


A horse in a stable, a snaffle bridle
A flat, hard surface suitable for trotting up in hand


C1. Describe a horse fully, including sex, colour, size, age, markings, and type.
C2. Consider the conformation of the horse shown and the effect that it might have on its way of going and the type of work it may be suited to.
C3. Discuss expressions used in describing strengths and weaknesses of a horse’s conformation. For example herring gutted, run up light etc.
C4. Evaluate the advantages or disadvantages of the different types of procedure for vetting horses before purchase.


C5. Run a horse up for veterinary inspection and evaluating the action. 
C6. Explain the value of trotting up a horse for veterinary inspection and evaluation of its action.
C7. Discuss how to identify lameness.
C8. Be able to detect heat and swelling in a horse’s leg, including the possibility of tendon or ligament damage, and be able to interpret and discuss the findings.
C9. Be able to indicate sites of lameness, know what these conditions are, and be able to discuss the causes and treatments.
C10. Know about the recognition and treatment of diseases and ailments of the foot.

Health and Condition

C11. Assess observations that might prompt action when checking horses first thing in the morning or last thing at night.
C12. Know about getting a tired horse to urinate, recognising and dealing with the causes and symptoms of exhaustion, stress and dehydration. Describe how these conditions can be prevented.
C13. Consider the urinary system as related to practical problems.
C14. Demonstrate taking a temperature, pulse rate and respiration rate. Explain why these are important.
C15. Discuss the aims of societies and associations connected with the care of horses and ponies.


One horse in a stable
Feed room with adequate feed samples, hay barn and haylage if possible

Feeding, Exercise and Fitness

C16. Know how to recognise good and poor condition and reasons for them. Explain condition scoring.
C17. Explain the nutrients in the horse’s diet.
C18. Discuss how the digestive system affects the way horses are fed, and the problems arising from a poor/unbalanced diet.
C19. Evaluate feeding hay or alternatives.
C20. Contrast the difference in feeding traditional feeds and mixes; consider quality, quantity, and evaluate the nutritional components. 
C21. Consider if there is a place in a modern feeding system for boiled feeds.
C22. Discuss the value of some feed additives on the market; discuss the vitamin and mineral content of feedstuffs.
C23. Compare fibre-based with fibre and concentrate diets, including grass.
C24. Know how to tempt a difficult feeder, relating to a young, old or sick horse.
C25. Discuss the work and feed requirements for different levels of activity, or rest,
C26. Discuss getting horses fit for various disciplines, including the distances and speeds used in interval training. Compare the fitness levels required, and how fitness may affect the horse’s behaviour.
C27. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of horse-walkers.
C28. Discuss how feeding relates to work and condition. Discuss diets for horses in different types of work.
C29. Evaluate how to judge fitness following during training or competition.
C30. Discuss the considerations to be made in the care of a competition horse to ensure maximum performance.
C31. Identify how the respiratory system relates to fitness.
C32. Discuss problems of the respiratory system, such as whistling, roaring and allergies and how to deal with them.
C33. Understand the lymphatic, and endocrine systems as they relate to practical problems, such as lymphangitis.


Two horses in two stables, preferably adjacent
A choice of tack for cross country, boots and exercise bandages
Dressage saddle, double bridle, and working bandages
The bridles must be adjustable to fit the horses provided. The saddles should not fit perfectly.


D1. Define the importance of good stable manners for the horse.
D2. Explain stereotypical behaviours and how to minimise them.
D3. Demonstrate how to hold or lead horses that are being awkward, possibly during wound cleaning, or when very fresh.
D4. Be able to handle difficult horses in and out of stables. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of twitching, how a twitch works, and different types of restraint.
D5. Know how to prevent horses from becoming cast, and how to deal with a horse during and after being cast.

Tacking Up

D6. Stable and work area to be kept clean and tidy.
D7. Compare types and uses of bandages, materials and padding. Discuss current thinking on the effect of heat on tendons.
D8. Put on working and exercise bandages. Discuss the consequences of poorly applied bandages or boots.
D9. Select and put on suitable equipment to ride a horse around a cross country course.
D10. Discuss the consequences of poorly fitting equipment.
D11. Fit a saddle and a double bridle. Explain the action of the double bridle.
D12. Recognise various normal types of bit and saddlery; their uses, advantages, disadvantages and actions.


One horse in stable
Access to first aid equipment and bandages
Examples of two different wormers

Common Ailments, Nursing, First Aid

D13. Be able to recognise good and ill health.
D14. Explain simple medical and veterinary terms.
D15. Summarise precautions that can be taken against infection and contagion.
D16. Discuss care of ill, contagious or infectious horses. Discuss how to prevent problems from occurring in horses on long-term box rest.
D17. Understand the use of support bandages, vet wrap and current veterinary bandaging. This may include applying knee and hock bandages.
D18. Specify how to prevent sores and galls in fit horses during long working seasons.
D19. Compare hot and cold poultices, types and uses.
D20. Identify and discuss the circulatory system and symptoms of when it malfunctions, explain how to deal with severe bleeding.
D21. Summarise vaccinations - types and timing.
D22. Evaluate precautions that can be taken against flies on horses and around stables and in the field.
D23. Explain treatment of coughs, colds, flu and strangles.
D24. Discuss current thinking on causes, treatment and preventative measures of laminitis, azoturia and atypical myopathy.
D25. Evaluate modern methods of reducing horses’ worm burdens.
D26. Explain the functions of horses’ skin, and how to recognise and treat skin diseases.
D27. Have a basic knowledge of the skeletal and muscular systems and their effect on performance and movement.  Know the functions of the different muscle groups.  Identify the locations of and know the difference between muscles, tendons and ligaments.
D28. Discuss the development of the muscular system required to support ridden work.
D29. Explain how to recognise eye problems, and the action to be taken.
D30. Be able to judge when a wound is simple to deal with and when veterinary attention is required.


Pony Club Publications:

  • The Manual of Horsemanship
  • The Pony Club Guide To Endurance Riding – Nicola Parsler
  • Vital Statistics: A Guide to Conformation – Maggie Raynor
  • Body Basics: A Guide to the Anatomy of the Horse – Maggie Raynor
  • Fit for the Bit: A Guide to Care of the Horse’s Mouth – Maggie Raynor and Antony de Csernatony
  • All Systems Go! A Guide to Equine Fitness -  David Marlin and Maggie Raynor
  • The Pony Club Guide to Bits and Bitting – Carolyn Henderson
  • The Pony Club Guide to Pasture Management – Elizabeth O’Beirne-Ranelagh
  • Wallcharts: The Muscular System; Look up four; Clipping, Trimming & Plaiting; Horse and Human Common Parts.

Suggested further reading:

  • The Horse Nutrition Bible: The Comprehensive Guide To The Correct Feeding Of Your Horse – Ruth Bishop
  • The Horse Shoeing Book - Martin Humphrey AWCF
  • The Horse Anatomy Workbook - Maggie Raynor
  • Horse Breeding - Peter Rossdale
  • Veterinary Notes for Horse Owners – Matthew Horace Hayes
  • No Foot, No Horse: Foot Balance - The Key to Soundness and Performance - Mac Head, Gail Williams and Martin Deacon
  • Horse Anatomy: A Pictorial Approach to Equine Structure - Peter Goody
  • Equine Injury, Therapy and Rehabilitation - Mary Bromiley
  • Posture and Performance: Principles of Training Horses from the Anatomical Perspective – Gillian Higgins
  • Introduction to Horse Biology – Zoe Davies
  • Your Horse’s Health: Lameness – Oliver Davis

Felt Colour - Orange Honours - Salmon Pink

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