Within FEIF, education is organised at a national level. Each national association is responsible for managing its own educational system for the learning of riding and horsemanship for Icelandic horses. The level of maturity of national systems varies considerably depending on the number of Icelandic horses in each country. National systems also vary depending upon national requirements and cultures.
There are often two separate educational systems in a country; one for riders and one for instructors. The riders education systems are often called “riding badges” and offer a progressive system of learning both riding skills and horsemanship skills. National instructor education systems often combine the learning of teaching competences, with horse training and advanced riding competences.
Some National Associations operate licensing systems requiring registered instructors to take part in regular continuing professional development activities to maintain their licences. Some National Associations work with their government organisations on the regulation of riding instructor qualifications. Some National Associations also issue qualifications for horse trainers. Two levels are often seen; an initial Young Horse Trainer qualification and an advanced Horse Trainer qualification.
Nowadays, some FEIF member associations offer full time apprenticeship education (from educational training to master examination) or courses/studies being held at universities and colleges that provide academic based qualifications for riding instructors, horse management, event organization, etc. These courses can take up to three years. So far these courses are being held in Iceland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
It is up to the FEIF member country to decide whether these courses are valid for a trainer license or not but the acceptance and acknowledgement of the license according to the FEIF Education Matrix scheme has to be guaranteed.
More traditionally riding instructor education courses can be shorter (one to three weeks) combined with examinations, and rely upon participants gaining knowledge through practice over an extended period and different pre-qualifications and requirements which are needed to start the trainer and instructor education.
FEIF has developed a matrix that maps riding instructor competences to three levels of qualification that is used to enable the comparison of national qualifications. Above the lowest level of the matrix, riding instructor competences include horse trainer skills. National associations are responsible for deciding how their qualifications map on to the matrix.
FEIF Education operates through the FEIF Education committee which is chaired by the FEIF Director of Education, and its members are elected at the annual Education Leaders' Meeting. This meeting is held during the FEIF Conference. National Education Leaders discuss current issues in Icelandic horse education, and the meeting provides an opportunity for for exchange of ideas and cooperation between countries.
FEIF Education aims to:
- encourage cooperation in educational activities between the National Associations in the FEIF Member Countries
- provide a forum for the exchange of knowledge, information and ideas
- organise events where people interested in education can meet
- define educational standards to enable the international movement of qualified horse trainers and riding instructors through the mutual recognition of qualifications