Ninety percent of vet nurses, who took the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ Level 3 Equine Pathway Diploma last year, passed.

This is almost twice the pass-rate of their peers who sat the small animal exams during the same period.

The Level 3 Equine Pathway Diploma was introduced in August 2010, to replace the previous national vocational qualification (NVQ).

Libby Earle, of the RCVS, said: “This is a fantastic achievement and reflects the hard work and commitment of the students and their tutors and clinical coaches.”

Vets are supportive of the new qualification.

“We would prefer to employ vet nurses who have taken the equine pathway,” said Deidre Carson, partner at Rossdales veterinary surgeons in Newmarket.

“The qualification provides a thorough grounding in the specifics of equine nursing and gives vet nurses the necessary understanding and confidence to handle horses effectively.”