Certified Trainers

Why work with an Icelandic Trainer?

Icelandic horsemanship is a specialized discipline with a long and rich history in Iceland and Europe. It combines Icelandic traditions, classical horsemanship, and modern training techniques. Although trainers and instructors from other disciplines can be helpful with Icelandics, it is less likely that they will have in-depth knowledge of how to train the gaits of the Icelandic Horse. Icelandic Horses are trained in five biomechanically unique gaits, which present unique challenges. Certified Icelandic Horse professionals have demonstrated their ability to develop the gaits per breed standards. They are experienced in how to balance both four and five-gaited horses in addition to training riders to effectively ride each gait. These skills can take years to develop due to the wide range of gait distributions present within the breed. A qualified Icelandic trainer is a client’s most reliable source of knowledge related to the Icelandic Horse.

Below we have listed certified Icelandic trainers operating in the United States. As an Icelandic Horse owner seeking professional assistance, it can be challenging to assess a trainer's skills without prior experience in the discipline. When going to a trainer who is certified within the FEIF Matrix, you are guaranteed a standard of knowledge and skill that has been vetted by a high-level international professional. Referring to this international standard allows you to advocate for the best possible teaching and training available to you and your horse based on your goals.

However, though working with trainers certified under an international standard is your surest way to ensure quality training and instruction, the United States system of certification is quite new, and the other systems of certification can be out of reach to many. Therefore it is recommended that when evaluating whether to work with a particular uncertified trainer with Icelandic experience who is not listed below, you examine their demonstrated horsemanship as well as competition and breeding evaluation success as well as the success and horsemanship of their students in various events and activities.


Certified Trainers in the United States

Alex Montan Gray
850 Morning Sun Dr
Encinitas, CA 92024
BSci in Horse Training and Riding Instruction, USIHC Sport Judge B, Gæðingakeppni Judge
Alexandra Dannenmann
Global Icelandic Horse Services LLC
10551 Deal Road
North Fort Myers, FL 33917
FEIF International Sport Judge A, FEIF Trainer/Instructor of the year 2017
Alexandra Pregitzer
730 Phillips Drive
Oxford, MI 48371
(608) 436-1751
USIHC Sport Judge B
Alexandra Venable
Alfadans Equestrian Arts
34260 NE Old Parrett Mtn Rd
Newberg, Oregon 97132
Ann-Christin Kloth
Gait Ways LLC
S75W36395 Wilton Road
Eagle, WI 53119
(262) 470-7103
Equine Specialist EAT/EAL (EAGALA) Certified Massage Therapist (Therasage)
Anna Draeger
Taktur Icelandics LLC
4209 Dana Rd
Crestwood, KY 40014
BS in Equine Science MS in Agriculture Equissage Equine Sports Massage Therapy certified
Bernie Willis
Arctic Arrow Farm
7362 West Parks Hwy -246
Wasilla, AK 99654
(907) 357-4233
Tolt in Harmony
Caeli Cavanagh
Alfadans Equestrian Arts
34260 NE Old Parrett Mtn Rd
Newberg, OR 98650
BSci in Horse Training and Riding Instruction, Top of World Ranking Good and Harmonious Riding List 2022
Carrie Lyons Brandt
Taktur Icelandic Horses
4209 Dana Rd
Crestwood , KY 40014
BSci in Horse Training and Riding Instruction
Coralie Denmeade
Tamangur Icelandic Horses
5775 Best Road
Larkspur, CO 80118
USIHC Sport Judge B
Florie Miller
Equinox Equine Bodywork LLC.
5103 Sunset Ridge Ct
Glenwood Springs, CO 81601
(970) 309-3695
Certified Equine Massage Therapist
Jana Meyer
Lunar Hill Icelandics
33 Hall Rd
Chelsea, VT 05038
USIHC Sport Judge B
Janet Mulder
AK Ice Farm LLC
Anchorage, AK
(907) 351-4473
Tölt in Harmony Instructor Level 1
Laura "Lala" Benson
Valkyrie Icelandic
16330 270th PL NE
Duvall, WA 98019
(650) 281-4108
Sigrun Brynjarsdottir
Solheimar Farm
387 Strafford Road
Tunbridge, VT 05077
(802) 889-9472
Centered Riding Instructor Level 2
Virginia Lauridsen
Harmony Icelandics, LLC
3263 Rustic Trail
Truro, IA 50257
Will Covert
Flying C Ranch
3600 Roblar Ave.
Santa Ynez, CA 93460
(805) 688-1393
FEIF International Sport Judge A, World Champion in T2 1999, Certified Farrier


What is a Certified Trainer? The FEIF Matrix

Icelandic horsemanship has a long international history. Several countries through the years have developed education and certification systems for Icelandic equine professionals. However, due to the large differences between the systems, it was difficult for those accessing services to compare credentials, as well as ensure parity and minimum standards between systems. To resolve this, FEIF has charged individual countries to create their own educational systems that align with each unique market and horse culture. 

The FEIF Matrix was created in order to align large benchmarks in every country’s educational system into a standardized system with minimum standards for each level. This allows for the recognition of professional qualifications internationally, as well as making it easier for those interested in contracting professional services to be knowledgeable about the minimum standards of each certification level.

The FEIF Matrix Levels and Certifying Organizations

There are three systems that US trainers are most likely to be certified under. These systems are the Icelandic system (FT), the German system (IPZV) and the United States system (USIHC). There are other certification systems that are possible internationally, however these three systems are historically and currently the most well represented in the United States. 

Trainers in all certification systems are required to demonstrate dedication to continuous education in order to maintain their licenses.

FT system logo


The FT system is the one used in Iceland and currently requires three years of undergraduate work at Holar University College in order to be certified.  Beginning in 2015, those who are certified under the system also complete a full Bachelor of Science degree in Horse Training and Riding Instruction. The course of study includes rigorous theory classes such as equine exercise physiology, nutrition, pedagogy, anatomy, shoeing, genetics, equine management, sports psychology, developmental psychology and biomechanics as well as practical work such as training young horses, competition horses and breeding evaluation horses under the continuous guidance of Holar instructors, several of whom have achieved “Master Trainer” status. They also complete practical courses in riding instruction as well as pace training, jumping, ponying, ground work and lungeing. Each year of Holar University roughly equals one level of the FEIF Matrix system, however most students do not have their names submitted to the FEIF system until completion of all three years. The title of Master Trainer (Level 4), is only obtained after significant international success of both the rider and their students alongside the completion of a rigorous practical exam and presentations to the community. There are currently only five trainers currently operating who have attained this level.

Holar graduates also receive certification as level 5 coaches under the Icelandic Sports Association, following their guidelines of coach and trainer certification.

IPZV logo


The German Icelandic Horse Association IPZV was founded in 1958 and currently lists over 800 active, certified trainers. IPZV has three different levels of trainer certifications: C, B and A.

Trainer certifications are based on a long period of self-study (riding instruction, regular lessons, clinic, theory classes) combined with a number of prerequisites such as riding badge courses and exams, introductory seminars, and longing courses. The trainer courses themselves are led by German FEIF level 4 trainers and are intense seminars over several weeks focusing on theory and practical expertise. 

Participants undergo testing in topics such as theory exams in horse care and health, general and Icelandic specific riding, pedagogy, riding instruction and sports science. Practical exams include riding the different gaits, dressage, jumping, signal riding, trail riding, ground work, ponying, trying out unknown horses, evaluation of their training level and abilities, riding instruction, theory presentations, and practical instruction.

The IPZV trainer certification is recognized by the German Olympic Sports Confederation DOSB and follows the guidelines of their trainer certification programs.

usihc logo


The USIHC system is new and still evolving, and so far, only the Level 1 exam is available. In its current iteration, applicants to the Fast Track system must have previously demonstrated success and dedication in multiple areas of the Icelandic Horse community. After acceptance, they must pass 13 rigorous exams showing proficiency in teaching and training skills essential to a Level 1 trainer. As only Level 1 is currently available, it is entirely possible that trainers certified under this system have the skills and proficiencies of higher levels in the FEIF Matrix that have not yet been evaluated. Therefore, we recommend supplementing their certification under this system with knowledge of their or their student’s success in competition and other equine activities to get a full picture of their qualifications.