The Horse Trust and Lantra Awards have launched the first qualification within the equine welfare sector.

The level three diploma in Equine Legislation, Welfare and Field Skills is aimed at people employed by or volunteering for equine welfare organisations.

The diploma was developed in response to requests for a more standardised approach to training across the equine welfare sector.

Until now, people undertaking these roles could not achieve a regulated qualification relevant to their role.

This qualification will enables recipients to demonstrate that they are able to perform their role professionally, safely and to the required industry standard.

It covers three core subject areas: legislation, welfare assessment and handling. There are four pathways to choose from, each containing a number of optional units, which enables the learner to tailor the qualification to their role.

It was developed in consultation with statutory organisations, veterinary surgeons, nutritionists, equine behaviourists, and animal and equine welfare charities.

Liane Preshaw, director of knowledge and skills at The Horse Trust, said: “[This diploma] represents the hard work of not just The Horse Trust and Lantra Awards, but the whole sector.

“The units are structured to reflect current evidence, not only on subjects such as worming and the nutritional management of severely malnourished equids, but also behaviour and how horses learn, and how this influences how we should handle them.”

Equine charities welcomed the qualification, both for current and future workers in the field.

Vicky Alford, horse unit manager at the Blue Cross, said: “It has been an inspiration to all of us working in the welfare sector. A tremendous amount of work and dedication has gone into producing what looks to be a great step forward in up-skilling our current teams and those for the future to enable us to keep pushing forward with promoting great welfare and ultimately enhancing the lives of more horses.”

To support organisations that may struggle to find the funding needed to put their employees or volunteers through the qualification, The Horse Trust will also be providing bursaries as one of its charitable outputs.