Proposed changes to the legislation controlling the sale of animal medicine could prevent over- the-counter sales of horse wormers.

A new proposal on veterinary pharmaceutical sales by the EU commission could make all medicines for food producing species, which includes horses, prescription only.

These plans, which could have far reaching effects on owners and retailers, and has come under strong criticism from the British Equestrian Trade Association, who is campaigning against the proposed changes.

BETA chief executive and secretary, Claire Williams said: “There is major concern that the welfare of horse and ponies may suffer as a result. Horse owners would lose the convenience of being able to buy wormers from their local retailers, as well as the possibility of increased prices.”

Many retailers and agricultural merchants are reliant on the custom that horse wormers and medicine sales create. There is concern that jobs could be jeopardised and retailers, saddlers and agricultural merchants could all be affected.

The EU argues that changes are for the benefit of animal welfare and the safety of the food chain, although opponents say it could result inillegal trading and a reduction in competition and choice.