Rogue barefoot trimmers are to be curbed with a new code of practice for equine hoofcare being drawn up by the National Equine Welfare Council (NEWC).

The British Equine Veterinary Association’s Chris House, who is chairman of the NEWC’s equine hoofcare sub-committee, said the code would help welfare groups to pursue cases of suffering caused by unqualified trimmers.

“There were several cases involving the Strasser technique in the summer of 2006, where unqualified people attempted therapeutic trimming and caused a lot of suffering to their horses,” said Mr House. “Having a code of practice will allow the charities to intervene at an earlier point when they see someone is doing work that should be undertaken by a vet or farrier.”

Mr House said the code sets out exactly what an unqualified person can and cannot do to a horse’s feet and will form part of NEWC’s Equine Compendium to be updated this year.

Mr House also hopes Defra will incorporate the code into its welfare code of practice.

In 2006, two horse owners were convicted for following the radical methods advocated by German vet Dr Hildred Strasser, leading to the unnecessary suffering of their horses.

Under the Farriers (Registration) Act 1975 a horse owner may trim their own horse’s feet, but may not put on shoes or attempt to change the shape of the horse’s feet.

Tony Tyler of the International League for the Protection of Horses described the code as a real “step forward”.

The code of practice is out for consultation with registered farriers, vets, welfare agencies and industry professionals until 30 April. Visit www.newc.co.uk/codes/hoofcare.php

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (27 March, ’08)