EQUIGRADE GRADING APPLICATION FORM  Click here to download

GRADING OF EQUINE AND EQUESTRIAN ESTABLISHMENTS IN SOUTHERN AFRICA
EQUI-GRADE™
GRADING INFORMATION

  • Introduction

Similar in concept to tourism grading systems, where to consumers, industry rating equates to quality and value for money, services are assessed according to internationally accepted standards.
Catering for some 320 000 horses in South Africa and employing over 80 000 people in an estimated 22 career paths, research supports the need to introduce a standards setting scheme which will benefit all stakeholders.
This voluntary scheme focuses on all commercial establishments that have been identified and categorized according to the service provided. e.g. Equestrian country estates; riding schools; livery yards; racing stables; stud farms and horseback safaris. These enterprises are being invited to subscribe to a concept which has as its objective to encourage, maintain and recognise quality assurance, thereby stimulating consumer confidence and adding marketing value to their services.
This voluntary grading system will focus on functionality and the meeting (and exceeding) of the needs of horses and clients, rather than ‘glamour/luxury’.
It has been proven that to a consumer, accreditation represents quality, from which they can make a “value for money” assessment. In the case of Equi-grade™, a “safety” assessment is provided to further assist the consumer to choose where they would like to ride / send their children to ride / keep their horse(s).
Equi-grade™ believes that the grading scheme promotes acceptable standards of horse and rider care offered by equestrian establishments in Southern Africa.  The referred to standards are aligned to internationally recognised standards.   Equi-grade™ will work with establishments to improve service delivery in the horse industry.  The role of Equi-grade™ is not a policing function as it is a consumer driven industry.

  • Benefits to Graded Establishments

The primary benefit to establishments is consumer confidence and resultant market placement.  Some of the benefits listed below will be immediate, whilst others will become evident as more establishments are graded. 

  • Be able to display the Equi-grade™ Grading plaque and star rating outside their premises.
  • Be able to display the Equi-grade™ Grading Certificate, framed, in the office/reception area.
  • Be able to use the Equi-grade™ Grading logo and symbols in advertising and promotional material, letterheads, website, business cards etc.
  • To be listed in the Equi-grade™ Directory
  • To be listed on the Equi-grade™ Website, which will be linked to most industry websites in the country.
  • Top level graded establishments will receive publicity in the press, industry magazines, on the Equi-grade™ Website.
  • Special concessions such as :
    • discounted admission to the various seminars to be held throughout the year for the establishment owners and its staff, e.g. financial planning, aids awareness etc.
  • Certification

 

Equi-grade™ has established the “star in horseshoe” certification symbol to denote standards of equestrian establishments.  Establishments will be assessed by a qualified assessor and awarded a “star/horseshoe” rating following ratification by Equi-grade™.  Brief descriptions of what each star level represents can be viewed for the various categories of establishments (see Categories of Grading below).  These grading criteria may differ slightly between the various categories, e.g. from Riding School to Stud Farm.
Example : Riding School
Bronze = Meets minimum requirements in terms of instructor qualifications, condition of horses and stables. 
Silver =  Exceeds minimum in 40% of criteria and meets the balance of minimums, with at least one exceptional aspect.
Gold = Exceeds minimum in 60% of criteria and meets the balance of minimums, with at least three exceptional aspects.

  • Grading Categories

Category

Competitive vs Leisure

Disciplines

Age Group

Riding School

 

Definition

All horses/ponies are owned by the establishment.  Mostly targets beginner riders, usually children.  Also cater for all ages for outrides/hacking.

A.1. Competitive

A.1.1. Dressage, Jumping, equitation, eventing, saddleseat, reining, vaulting, showing, western.

Adult

Junior

Children

A.1.2. Eventing, trail riding, endurance, Trec.

Adult

Junior

Children

A.2. Leisure

A.2.1. Beginners, lunge lessons, arena lessons, some jumping

Adult

Junior

Children

A.2.2. Out-rides, trails, pony camps, holiday activities.

Adult

Junior

Children

  • Riding School / Livery Yard Combined

 

Definition
Some horses/ponies are owned by establishment, others are owned by clients.  The range between leisure and competitive may be greater in this instance, with the private owners being more competitive and wanting to go to more shows.

B.1. Competitive

B.1.1. Dressage, jumping, equitation, eventing, saddleseat, reining, vaulting, showing, western.

Adult

Junior

Children

B.1.2. Eventing, trail riding, endurance, le Trek

Adult

Junior

Children

B.2. Leisure

B.2.1. Beginners, lunge lessons, arena lessons, some jumping

Adult

Junior

Children

B.2.2. Outrides, trails, pony camps, holiday activities.

Adult

Junior

Children

  • Commercial Livery Yard

 

Definition
All clients own their own horses at the establishment. More than 10 livery horses. This is usually a competitive yard with highly qualified instructors, and often specialises in one or two disciplines only.

C.1. Competitive

C.1.1. Dressage, jumping, equitation, eventing, saddleseat, reining, vaulting, showing, western.

Adult

Junior

Children

C.1.2. Eventing, trail riding, endurance, le Trek

Adult

Junior

Children

C.2. Leisure

C.2.1. Beginners, lunge lessons, arena lessons, some jumping

Adult

Junior

Children

C.2.2. Outrides, trails, pony camps, holiday activities.

Adult

Junior

Children

  • Private Livery Yard

 

Definition
In addition to the establishment’s owner’s horses, there are up to 10 privately owned horses stabled here.  This may be a mix of both competitive and leisure riders, or either competitive or leisure riders.  Riders normally either truck out to lessons at a larger establishment, or have an instructor come from outside to the premises to teach.

D.1. Competitive

D.1.1. Dressage, jumping, equitation, eventing, saddleseat, reining, vaulting, showing, western.

Adult

Junior

Children

D.1.2. Eventing, trail riding, endurance, le Trek

Adult

Junior

Children

D.2. Leisure

D.2.1. Beginners, lunge lessons, arena lessons, some jumping

Adult

Junior

Children

D.2.2. Outrides, trails, pony camps, holiday activities.

Adult

Junior

Children

 

Category

Competitive vs Leisure

Disciplines

Age Group

  • Riding for the Disabled

 

Definition
This will be a yard that specialises in the rehabilitation of disabled riders.  Extra facilities such as wheelchair ramps, pullies etc may be required, as well as bombproof and reliable horses and ponies.

E.1. Competitive

E.1.1. Dressage

Adult

Junior

Children

E.2. Leisure

E.2.1. Beginners, lunge lessons, arena lessons

Adult

Junior

Children

  • Polo / Polocrosse Yard

 

Definition
Most horses/ponies will be privately owned.  Polo fields will be required.

F.1. Competitive

 

Adult

  • Trail Rides

 

Definition
Majority of horses owned by establishment, although some private owners may bring their horses to go on the rides.  Rides may vary in duration and additional requirements such as camping equipment, food, client comfort need to be assessed.

G.1. Same Day Rides

Adult

Junior

Children

G.2. Overnight Rides

Adult

Junior

Children

 

Category

Competitive vs Leisure

Disciplines

Age Group

  • Stud Farms

 

Definition
Apart from farm owner’s privately owned riding horses, this establishment will consist of mares, stallions and young stock.  Veterinary procedures, stallion enclosures, foaling boxes, paddock fencing, would be in need of assessment in addition to normal items.

H.1. Competitive

H.1.1. Dressage, jumping, equitation, eventing, saddleseat, reining, vaulting, showing, western. (e.g. Warmblood, Thoroughbred, Welsh, Boerperd, Saddler, Arab)

Adult

Junior

Children

H.1.2. Eventing, trail riding, endurance, le Trek (e.g. Boerperd, Nooitgedacht, Arab)

Adult

Junior

Children

H.2. Leisure

H.2.2. Outrides, trails

Adult

Junior

Children

  • Racing Yards

 

Definition
Horses all owned by private owners/syndicates under responsibility of trainer.  Security a big factor.

I.1. Spelling Yard

Adult

I.2. Training Yard

 

  • Show Holding Body

 

Definition
This is a show venue which may or may not also be a livery yard.  Emphasis here on competition facilities, e.g. jumping arena, jumping equipment etc, as well as parking (both horseboxes and spectators), ablutions, stabling for visiting horses, catering, organisation (schedules, programmes, results etc)

J.1. Competitive

J.1.1. Dressage, jumping, equitation, eventing, saddleseat, reining, vaulting, showing, western.

Adult

Junior

Children

J.1.2. Eventing, trail riding, endurance, le Trek

Adult

Junior

Children

Equestrian Housing Estates

 

Definition
Housing estates that boast an equestrian facility for home owners.

K.1. Competitive

K.1.1. Dressage, jumping, polo, equitation, showing.

All ages

K.2. Leisure

K.2.1.  Outrides, trails.

All Ages

  • Grading Criteria

 

Most of these criteria are applicable to most of the grading categories, however, there are exceptions, such as where an establishment such as a trail ride provider, may keep horses outdoors and not in stables.  Exceptions will be indicated as such.

Category : All

 

Criteria

  • Accessibility
    • Directional signage
    • Listed in telephone directory
    • Signage at establishment
    • Road conditions to establishment
    • Actual access to premises (intercom etc)

 

Comments : Areas for improvement, applicability for type of establishment (e.g. ok to have 4x4 roads to a trail ride establishment, but not to a dressage show venue).
Gold Star Quality : Areas that exceed expectations, and which would set a good example to other yards.

  • Stables
  • Size of stables (suitability for size of equine being stabled)
  • Location (which way are they facing)
  • Style (loose box / barn style)
  • Doors (are they wide enough to admit horse and handler, are they secure)
  • Cleanliness (is there are strong smell of ammonia, or is it fresh smelling)
  • Ventilation
  • Bedding(quality, depth, cleanliness)
  • Fly control
  • Water accessibility
  • Lighting.

 

Comments : Areas for improvement, applicable accommodation for horse/pony – e.g. horses not in pony size stables.
Gold Star Quality : Areas that exceed expectations, and which would set a good example to other yards.

  • Arenas
  • No. of arenas.
  • Type of arenas (jumping, dressage, vaulting etc)
  • Surface – sand/grass – quality
  • Drainage
  • Level
  • Lesson management in arenas
  • Jumping equipment
  • Arena markers

 

Comments : Areas for improvement; applicable for use, e.g. dressage arena not really suitable for a show-jumping yard.
Gold Star Quality : Areas that exceed expectations, and which would set a good example to other yards.

  • Horses
  • General condition of horses – coats / manes / tails
  • Hoof care
  • Tick control
  • Passports for competitive horses.
  • Record keeping with regard to worming, dental, veterinary, vaccinations.
  • Show preparation

 

Comments : Areas for improvement; applicable to care of horse, e.g. tick control not strictly adhered to.
Gold Star Quality : Areas that exceed expectations, and which would set a good example to other yards.

  • Grooms
  • Overalls and protective footwear.
  • Grooming equipment (itemise all basic grooming tools)
  • Number of horses per groom.
  • Groom accommodation.
  • Evidence of staff records.
  • Development – courses/seminars attended, plans for career growth.
  • Daily routine.
  • Imparting of instructions – methods (e.g. verbal, written lists etc)
  • Emergency drills (fire, robbery etc)

 

Comments : Areas for improvement; applicable to grooms, e.g. grooms not sent on skills development courses
Gold Star Quality : Areas that exceed expectations, and which would set a good example to other yards.

  • Rider Facilities
  • Ablutions – shower/toilet
  • Administration – record keeping with regard to lessons, accounts, show entries.
  • Contracts and rules of the yard.
  • First aid facilities.
  • Emergency drills (fire, robbery etc).
  • Show information.
  • Parking
  • Horse box parking facilities

 

Comments : Areas for improvement; e.g. inadequate first aid facilities.
Gold Star Quality : Areas that exceed expectations, and which would set a good example to other yards.

  • Instructors
  • EQASA qualified - Level
  • ECASA Members
  • International coaches courses attended (e.g. FEI Coaches Courses Level 1 & 2)
  • Instructor speciality matched with pupil need
  • All round teaching.
  • First Aid qualifications.
  • Progress plan – courses/clinics to attend.
  • Emergency drills (fire, robbery etc).

 

Comments : Areas for improvement; e.g. some instructors not qualified.
Gold Star Quality : Areas that exceed expectations, and which would set a good example to other yards.

  • Grounds
  • Size of paddocks
  • Quality of fencing
  • Quality of gates
  • Quality of grazing / teff in paddocks.

 

Comments : Areas for improvement; e.g. fencing needs attention.
Gold Star Quality : Areas that exceed expectations, and which would set a good example to other yards.

  • Security
  • Electric fencing
  • Alarm systems – tack room and stables.
  • Security personnel in the case of high value racehorses etc.
  • Emergency procedures.

 

Comments : Areas for improvement; e.g. tack room not secure.
Gold Star Quality : Areas that exceed expectations, and which would set a good example to other yards.

    • Specialist Criteria
  • Polo

 

    • polo fields
    • club house
  • Polocrosse

 

  • polocrosse fields
  • club house.

Comments : Areas for improvement; e.g. fields too hard and dry.
5 Star Quality : Areas that exceed expectations, and which would set a good example to other yards.

  • Eventing
  • access to cross-country fences nearby
  • basic eventing obstacles such as dykes, ditches, logs, drops on property.

 

Comments : Areas for improvement; e.g. fences not well maintained.
Gold Star Quality : Areas that exceed expectations, and which would set a good example to other yards.

  • Stud Farms
  • stallion enclosures;
  • paddock fencing for young stock;
  • foaling stables;
  • veterinary procedures for scanning/AI etc;
  • foal handling
  • feeding and supplements for mares in foal.
  • Foal and youngster training.

 

Comments : Areas for improvement; e.g. mare feeding not adequate.
Gold Star Quality : Areas that exceed expectations, and which would set a good example to other yards.

  • Riding for the Disabled
  • Wheelchair ramps to mounting block.
  • Qualified staff
  • Pulleys where necessary
  • Secure arena
  • Temperament of horses

 

Comments : Areas for improvement; e.g. certain horse(s) too skittish.
Gold Star Quality : Areas that exceed expectations, and which would set a good example to other yards.

  • Racing Yard
  • Security
  • Accessible track.
  • Record keeping.
  • Qualifications of work riders.
  • Qualifications of trainer.

 

Comments : Areas for improvement; e.g. record keeping not up to date.
Gold Star Quality : Areas that exceed expectations, and which would set a good example to other yards.

  • Show Holding Body

 

  • Arenas applicable to type of show (e.g. dressage arena for dressage show)
  • Warm-up arena(s)
  • Seating for spectators
  • Judges box
  • Parking for spectators
  • Security for parking area.
  • Parking for horseboxes
  • Catering and refreshments
  • Ambulance provision
  • Qualification of judges and stewards.
  • Show schedule, programme, results.
  • Organisation … do classes run according to schedule?
  • Announcers.
  • PA System
  • Marshalling

Comments : Areas for improvement; e.g. PA system needs upgrading – not heard in certain areas of the spectator area.
Gold Star Quality : Areas that exceed expectations, and which would set a good example to other yards.

  • Trail Rides
  • Qualifications of trail leaders.
  • Quality and temperament of horses
  • Catering facilities – day trip, and overnight.
  • Camping facilities – overnight.
  • Safety precautions – e.g. guide trained to handle a rifle in wild animal territory; snake bite serum; evacuation procedures in case of fall in the bush.
  • Horses may be kept out – quality of fencing and grazing; shelter from the elements.

 

Comments : Areas for improvement; e.g. horses under weight.
Gold Star Quality : Areas that exceed expectations, and which would set a good example to other yards.

 

    • Points System    

Bonus points gained after the first assessment will accumulate towards the next grading assessment, which may aid the raising of the grade.  Examples of where points may be gained are as follows :

  • Instructor successfully completing the next level of EQASA Exams.
  • Instructor participating in Professional Development Seminars / Diplomas / Courses.
  • Staff successfully completing courses, attending seminars (life skills etc).

 

  • How to apply for Grading

All establishments wishing to be graded need to complete an application form.  The grading form will be available from :

  • Assessors;
  • Equi-grade™ Website (www.sanip.org.za);
  • From the Equi-grade™ Secretariat.

The completed application form should be sent to the Equi-grade™ Secretariat via :

  • The website (online application) (links to first time applications/renewal applications)
  • Facsimile / post (download application)
  • Hand delivery

If sent via facsimile or over the website, the original document with the establishment representative’s signature must be collected by the assessor during the assessment of the establishment and sent to the Equ-igrade™ Secretariat.  Equi-grade™ will not issue a grading until the original, signed application form has been received.
Payment for grading should be sent to the Equi-grade™ Secretariat via :

  • Electronic transfer
  • Direct bank deposit
  • Cheque (delivery, registered mail, regular mail).

On receipt of the application form AND payment, Equi-grade™ will contact the assessor who in turn will contact the establishment to arrange a mutually agreeable time for the assessment.

An assessment should take place within 60 days of the receipt and acceptance of an application and payment by EQUI-GRADE™.

  • Assessment Procedure

 

    • The assessor will conduct an assessment based on the criteria listed in 5 and 6 above, and include :
      • Exterior and grounds under the control of the establishment;
      • The public areas, office, ablutions etc;
      • A random cross section of stables, grooms quarters etc.
      • Will note overall attention to housekeeping and maintenance.
      • The assessment will be considered in context or “fit for purpose”.
      • Where applicable, photographs will be taken to support evidence.

 

          • The assessor evaluates the total client experience – this may involve keeping horses at livery as well as / or receiving instruction.
      • The completed assessment form will be presented by the assessor to Equi-grade™.  The grading will be awarded by the Equi-grade™.
    • The grading decision will be based on :
      • The conditions noted by the assessor at the time of the annual assessment.
      • Customer feedback received by Equi-grade™ in respect of the relevant establishment (year 2 onwards);

 

    • The establishment will receive a full report and, where applicable, certificate for the grading.  Plaques and certificates will also be provided where applicable.
    • If problems were noted during the assessment or if the property’s rating has changed these will be detailed in the report.
    • Should Equi-grade™ receive complaints of a significant nature (that may negatively impact on the grading of the establishment) then the Equi-grade™ will inform the establishment and provide them with sufficient time to take corrective action.
    • All establishments will be reassessed if significant problems are noted (by means of consumer complaints or other means).  Ratings will not change without a reassessment and discussion with the owner/manager.
    • If a property is disapproved or receives a lower rating than on previous assessments, Equi-grade™ will advise the establishment on how to correct the problems.  The owner/manager must present Equi-grade™ with written documentation that confirms the corrective action has been taken.  A second evaluation may be undertaken at the discretion of Equi-grade™.  All evaluations are billed.
  • Nature of Assessments

 

Each establishment will be assessed at least once a year.   A grading is only valid for a 12 month period.  All inspections will be announced.

Additional assessments may be scheduled if a number of complaints are received or alternatively if conditions noted during the annual assessment indicate that a return visit is necessary.

  • Rating Criteria

 

Each establishment is evaluated individually within its category (See 4).  The assessor will compare each establishment to the rating criteria (5 and 6) and similar establishments.

An assessor will always evaluate a property in context of its operation and market.

The criteria are broad guidelines, per area that is assessed.  The assessor is guided by examples of exceptional, very good and meets the minimum (good) for each rating level for each area of assessment.

  • Cost of an Assessment

 

Properties undergoing an assessment agree to cover the following costs (if applicable):

  • The grading fee.
  • Accommodation of assessor, where overnight stays are required.
  • One regional phone call.
  • Meals and refreshments during assessment period.

 

  • Assessment Fees

The Grading fee is dependent on the category and size of the establishment (number of horses) and the fees will be publicly documented on Equi-grade™ Website (www.sanip.org.za) and elsewhere in the Equi-grade™ marketing material.

Assessors may not charge more than the fee specified by Equi-grade™.  In addition, assessors may not charge establishments for travelling or other out-of-pocket expenses.  These costs have been built into the assessment fee.     

2012 Fee Structure for the Equine & Equestrian Grading Scheme

Category

Assessment Fee

Joining Fee

TOTAL

All categories

3500

200

3700

Note that Annual Grading Renewals will be R500. There will be an annual escalation in fees.

  • Change of ownership/management/structure

 

A graded establishment will have to be re-graded in the following instances :

  • If the ownership of the establishment changes;
  • If there is a change in the management of the establishment; or
  • If there is material amendment/alteration to the establishment, e.g. new stables/ablutions/clubhouse.

 

The award of a grading is personal to the owner/management company of the establishment and therefore ceases to exist when the property changes ownership and/or management company.

The grading therefore cannot be considered for inclusion in the sale of the business.  On change of owner and/or management company the outgoing owner/management company must notify EQUI-GRADE™ l of the change of status and the new owner/management company will need to apply for inclusion in the grading scheme.

  • Confidentiality

All information gathered during the course of the grading programme in respect of the establishment will remain confidential between the establishment and EQUI-GRADE™ and its appointed secretariat and the relevant assessor/s.

 

NPC Number

Equestrian Qualifications Authority of Southern Africa NPC 2013/065969/08

(Member of the International Group for Equestrian Qualifications)