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Let’s get educated

Whether you're a professional or ride for pleasure, there's always something new to learn.
If you're interested in working in the equestrian industry, ongoing training is a wise investment in yourself and your career.
If you’re interested in working in the equestrian industry, ongoing training is a wise investment in yourself and your career.

Let’s get educated

Whether your goal is to work with horses professionally or simply expand your equine knowledge, there’s sure to be a course that’s right for you, writes AMANDA MAC.


Learning more about what you love is always a joy. As equestrians, horse owners and/or dedicated hobbyists, many of us have at some point thought about enrolling in a course to gain greater understanding of the animals and sport we’re so passionate about.

If study is something you’re seriously considering, an online search will quickly reveal that there are plenty of colleges and institutions offering a wide variety of equine-related courses, but how do you choose one that’s right for you? Here are a few things to consider before you dive in:

What’s your purpose? Is your interest general, or do you want to study a specific topic? Do you envisage this being a stand-alone learning experience, or is your aim to progress to higher qualifications? If it’s general or topic related, check the course outlines to find one that’s as close a fit to your interests as possible.

If your intention is to pursue further study, your best option is probably an Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) accredited course. The AQF regulates national education and training qualifications across different sectors, and in a broad range of studies and disciplines. This allows students to move through qualification levels with full or partial recognition for the qualifications and/or learning outcomes they already have. So, the successful completion of an AQF approved and accredited course could open the door to higher level studies, which may ultimately enhance your career opportunities.

Fees and delivery: Before you commit to anything, read the fine print! Make sure that the fee and course delivery structure work for you. Some courses are delivered entirely online, some combine online and on campus learning, others are on campus only. Check to see whether the course is self-paced or if it must be completed within a specific time frame. And is an up-front payment expected, or are a variety of payment options available? Overcommitting on either your time or finances will likely turn what should be enjoyable into a negative and stressful experience.

Do your homework: Thoroughly research the courses and providers that interest you. Are they accredited? How detailed is the information they make available? See if you can find reviews for any of their offerings other than the ones they post on their own websites! As with anything, it’s buyer beware – so take your time, don’t rush into anything, and do your due diligence.

Whether you're a professional or ride for pleasure, there's always something new to learn.
Whether you’re a professional or ride for pleasure, there’s always something new to learn.

Getting specific

While certain courses are tailored to very definite career outcomes, Equestrian Australia’s coaching pathways for example, or study programs designed specifically for those wishing to become qualified saddle fitters, there are many other options. To give you just a very small sampling of what’s out there, here, in no particular order or preference, are outlines of some of the offerings:

Equitation Science International (ESI): ESI’s stated mission is to ‘educate horse riders and handlers in equitation science to enable efficiency and safety in all horse/interactions’. Among other things, equitation science explains why horses behave as they do, what is likely or not likely to work in their training, and how we can communicate more effectively with our horses.

Offering evidence-based principles that ensure safety, efficiency, best-practice welfare and ultimately sustainability, equitation science informs all horse training, disciplines and sports, and importantly, privileges horse welfare as the top priority.

ESI currently offers two courses: How Horses Learn, a short course designed to teach the fundamentals of successful horse training, and their Diploma of Equitation Science, a nationally accredited qualification in horse training and coaching that teaches a full understanding of horse training, enabling an effective pathway to all equestrian disciplines and activities.

University of New England (UNE): Earlier this year, UNE launched two online industry-focused short courses designed to foster improvements in the welfare of sport and recreation horses across Australia. Created and backed by some of the country’s leading equine experts, the courses are a direct response to the Thoroughbred Aftercare Welfare Working Group’s 2021 report that outlined what needs to be done to improve equine welfare in Australia.

Applying the Five Domains Model to the Welfare Assessment of Sport and Recreation Horses considers nutrition, physical environment, health, behaviour and mental state to assess animal welfare, providing a comprehensive understanding of the Five Domains Model for everyone involved in the horse racing and breeding sectors. Equiculture Sustainable Horsekeeping is aimed at solving modern-day horse keeping problems. Topics include sustainable horse keeping, and how horses can be used to improve the land.


Many courses offer online and/or on campus study options.
Many courses offer online and/or on campus study options.

ACS Distance Education: ACS offers a range of equine courses online, catering for entry level to professional development, and suitable for those already working with horses or for hobbyist horse lovers. The emphasis is on practical, experience-based learning, with the aim of providing a solid understanding of the science, behaviour and management of horses.

Ranging from statements of attainment to advanced certificates, courses include Equine Behaviour; Horse Care I, II and III; Breeding Horses; Equine Husbandry; and Equine Studies. As an example, their Advanced Certificate in Applied Management (Horses) is designed to equip managers, supervisors, or those wanting to work towards those equine industry positions, with the necessary management skills. There are four core business modules, three horse care units, and two general studies elective units, a total of nine modules and an estimated 900 hours of study.

TAFE NSW: Among their other offerings are two Nationally Recognised Training options: Certificate III in Horse Care delivered from TAFE campuses in Moss Vale, Taree, Goulburn and Yallah , and a Certificate III in Horse Breeding in Moss Vale and Scone. Study options vary between the campuses from full to part time, on campus, and a combination of on campus and online learning. For example, TAFE Moss Vale accepts enrolment in the Certificate III in Horse Care at any time, and delivery is via virtual classroom with two face-to-face practical skills workshops.

The Horse Care certificate is designed to give a solid understanding of horse behaviour, helping students to safely care for and handle horses while learning skills to further their studies, or enhance their industry opportunities. The Horse Breeding certificate includes on-the-job training and access to industry standard facilities to gain the theoretical knowledge and practical experience necessary for enhanced career opportunities.

Thoroughbred Breeders Association: The Association’s Fast Track program is designed to create a pathway for talented horse people to enter the Thoroughbred industry. The program offers participants the opportunity to be employed and mentored on a respected stud farm and to gain a formal qualification, as well as the opportunity to learn from leaders in the global horse industry. The 12-month program provides an introduction and learning experience that will help accelerate graduates’ careers in the breeding industry.

The program is for anyone who is passionate about horses, no matter what their equine background. If you enjoy an active lifestyle, and working outdoors in a social and fast-paced environment, this program could be the start of an exciting new career. A limited number of applicants are selected to take part in the program which incorporates a mix of on-the-job training and formal study.

Australian Equine Institute: The Australian Equine Institute is a family owned and run training organisation. Their aim is to educate people on the basics, whilst giving them an opportunity to get qualified and workplace ready. They offer a Certificate II and III in Horse Care, both of which are Nationally Recognised and Accredited Qualifications. Study can be completed through distance education using either the Institute’s interactive online platform or through workbooks.

Study is self-paced and the courses are well suited to anyone over 15 years of age, for people seeking employment in the equine industry, for seasoned riders and competitors looking to enhance their knowledge and skills, and for riders getting back into riding after a break and wanting to feel better prepared and more confident.


NOTE: This article is designed to offer an example of some of the available study options. It is not meant as a recommendation for any particular course or provider.