Charlotte Hodgetts, 18, has become the first person in the UK to complete a new course specifically designed for the equine industry.

The dual equine qualification (DEQ) has been planned to assess competence, encourage excellence, develop commercial awareness and create highly skilled and employable staff.

It has been designed in partnership with Mike Kidd Horse Power and Myerscough College in Lancashire, with input, support and backing from the British Horse Society (BHS), Lantra and employers.

Charlotte, from Freckleton, Preston, said: “My interest in the equine industry started at a very young age so finding a course ideally suited to me was important.

“The DEQ apprenticeship programme uses e-learning and innovative assessment techniques which allowed me to enhance my education and produce an extensive portfolio.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the training and found it gave me the necessary knowledge and practical training to further my studies and gave me the relevant contacts to start my career in this field.”

Charlotte achieved an A* grade. She is currently working for the BHS, gaining valuable experience while continuing her studies with the ultimate aim of completing an equine science degree.

Mike Kidd, managing director of Horse Power, said: “The qualification offers people the training, guidance and industry links to secure fantastic employment within the sector.

“Eligible candidates can get the training funded through an apprenticeship and it is available for 16- to 65-year-olds.”

Peter Caney, Myerscough College’s director of skills, said: “This is a unique opportunity for learners wishing to pursue a work-based training path and we are delighted to have the full backing of the BHS in this venture.”