Regulation of barefoot trimmers and equine dental technicians is a step closer, following work this year by Defra, Lantra and the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA).

Lantra, the government’s learning and skills agency, is to help create recognised training standards following a nationwide survey asking 100 barefoot trimmers and 200 dental technicians about their qualifications (news, 31 January 2008).

Although practitioners are overseen by organisations like the Equine Podiatry Association (EPA) and the British Association of Equine Dental Technicians (BAEDT) it is currently legal to practise as a “paraprofessional” without formal qualifications.

“This report is key in helping to develop national occupational standards for the training, skill development and qualifications required by paraprofessionals,” said Lantra’s Lisa Jarvis. “The standards will ensure that people are suitably experienced and competent.”

David McDowell, RSPCA representative for the National Equine Welfare Council, added: “The position needs formalising so that if barefoot trimmers or dental technicians behave badly they can be struck off. Some provide a useful service while others do things contrary to
the rest of the horseworld.

We need a protocol to remove the scope for malpractice.”

The EPA has been working with Lantra to ensure all foot trimmers attain certain standards for horse welfare.

EPA secretary Justine Jenkins told H&H: “Some foot-trimmers have no formal training and are often not sufficiently competent.” But she cautioned against unnecessary legislation.

Although barefoot trimming falls outside the Farriers (Registration) Act 1975, Felicity Heather, registrar of the Farriers’ Registration Council (FRC), told H&H the council would welcome a move towards formal training.

Farriers must complete a four-year apprenticeship and pass an exam.

The development of national occupational standards for barefoot trimmers should
be completed by the EPA by the end of 2009, while a time frame for dental technicians is still unknown.

But the BAEDT is working with Lantra, BEVA and Defra to regulate dentistry and is creating a list for owners to verify whether their dental technician is registered and qualified.

Visit www.baedt.com.