Horsemanship for the Thoroughbred Industry QQI Major Award at Level 5

Horsemanship for the Thoroughbred Industry QQI Major Award at Level 5

The overall aim of the programme is to provide the learner with the opportunity to acquire the knowledge, skill and competence needed to work in a range of roles in the equine sector and /or to progress to further or higher education and training.

Applications are currently closed for this programme, if you are interested in future deliveries please e-mail 

The focus of the course is to develop the skills to work in the thoroughbred industry, either racing or stud, while at the same time developing learners’ personal, interpersonal and workplace skills. The content includes core modules in work experience and communications as well as a range of vocational modules including stable and yard routine, racehorse care and exercise, horse breeding, horse conformation, equine nutrition and equine anatomy and physiology.

This course will be run part-time over two years, delivered mostly at evenings and weekends for those working full-time.

This course is funded by HRI/CARE (, with only a registration fee of €150 per year (€300 in total) payable by the learner.

Mandatory for all learners

  • Stable and yard routine
  • Work Experience
  • Communications


  • Equine Anatomy and Physiology
  • Equine Nutrition
  • Horse Breeding
  • Horse Conformation and Evaluation
  • Racehorse Care and Exercise

You will choose from one of the options below and will complete up to seven modules

Option 1

Option 2

Year 1

Stable and yard routine

Horse breeding

Horse conformation


Stable and yard routine

Horse breeding or Horse Conformation

Year 2


Work Experience

Equine Anatomy and Physiology

Equine Nutrition


Work Experience

Racehorse care and exercise

Equine Anatomy Physiology or

Equine Nutrition

The course is designed to provide professional education and training to learners who love horses and have a particular interest in the thoroughbred industry (racing or breeding). The course will enable them to pursue a career in the thoroughbred industry or continue their studies at higher and/or third level. It also provides a flexible progression route for graduates of the Horsemanship Level 4 Major award, which we currently deliver in conjunction with the KWETB. The course will also be offered as a stand-alone qualification, which can be taken as a part-time course leading to the major award – Horsemanship 5M3371 or can be undertaken on a module-by-module basis.

This is the first course of its kind in Ireland that offers a study of the thoroughbred horse. Successful completion of this course will likely improve career prospects and will open opportunities for learners to access progression to further education courses on the QQI framework.

No, there are non-riding options available.

16 years old and upwards.

The application process for this course is now closed, if you are interested in being notified about future deliveries please e-mail 

Anyone can apply for this course and applicants will have to complete suitability testing in advance of a place being confirmed, to ensure they are suitable to complete the programme.

To gain a place on the course learners should have:

A strong interest in and knowledge of racehorses, professionally working in the thoroughbred racing industry, or through either leisure and family background.

Physically fit and capable of carrying out the range of physical activities required for working around (mandatory) and riding (option depending on module choice) horses.

To Enter this course Learners Should Have

  • -Some previous experience of working with thoroughbred horses
  • Basic IT skillS
  • A good level of fluency in written and spoken English.
  1. Complete an application form
  2. Complete a suitability test pack (this will be sent out on receipt of a completed application form) – this includes production of a portfolio of material, photographs and research on a specific topic
  3. Complete a written test – produce a report based on a piece of reading material
  4. Complete a practical assessment – including basic horsemanship skills and riding for those applying for the Racehorse Care and Exercise module
  5. Attend Interview

Written test, practical test and interview will all take place at RACE

The learner either has successfully completed a programme leading to the Leaving Certificate/Leaving Certified Applied OR equivalent and who can demonstrate the levels of knowledge, skill and competence associated with NFQ level 4 will be eligible to apply for entry to this programme.

Current industry employees or those developing an interest in Thoroughbred horses can access the modules individually, provided they have the required skill and education level.

We will also accept applications from those who do not meet these entry requirements, but who have 3+ years’ experience of working with horses and who can demonstrate an adequate level of literacy and academic understanding of the topics.

To achieve the standard required learners should be able to:

  • Read, draft, prepare and understand information across a range of topics.
  • Act with a considerable amount of responsibility and autonomy.
  • Attend timetabled classes for the duration of the course.
  • Complete self-directed hours of learning in the form of research, practice time, revision, preparation and study time.
  • Be capable of participating fully in all programme related activities; physically and academically.
  • Source and participate in a suitable work experience placement, where a learner cannot obtain work experience on their own, RACE will support them in finding suitable placement.

Access, Transfer and Progression
On completion of this course you will be eligible to progress to a Level 6 Horsemanship (6M3505) award. Currently this qualification is offered by Teagasc and a selection of Community colleges/ PLC’s (Galway Community College and Curragh Post Primary, KWETB).

RACE is planning to develop a Level 6 Award that will be available for the first graduates from this Level 5 programme (estimated availability September 2020 onwards).
Progression is also available via the Higher Education Links Scheme (HELS) (click here for more details) for learners with a full Level 5 Award to apply, through the CAO, for a place in the first year of a Higher Education Programme. An example of a relevant programme for these learners is the Equine Business Degree in Maynooth University, specific grades and other minimum entry requirements apply.

Learners who successfully complete this course will be eligible to apply for Level 6 ‘Green Cert.’ courses delivered by Teagasc to qualify as a ‘trained farmer’.

Protection of enrolled learners applies to this course. We confirm that we have appropriate arrangements in place for PEL. We have learner protection arrangements in place whereby every learner has an insurance policy which guarantees the repayment to learners of all amounts paid by learners enrolled on this programme should such a reimbursement be necessitated in the event of a cessation of the course.

The course leads to a Major Award in Horsemanship at Level 5 on the Irish National Framework of Qualifications.

Established in 2003, the Irish National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) is a 10-level, single national entity through which all learning achievements may be measured and related to each other.  Underpinned by quality assurance principles, the Irish NFQ describes qualifications in the Irish education and training system and sets out what each qualification says about what learners know, understand and are able to do. It also sets out qualifications pathways from one NFQ level to the next.

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