The British Equine Veterinary Association and British Association of Equine Dental Technicians have combined forces to set recognised standards for equine dental treatment.
These should make it safer and easier for owners to source the most suitable dental treatment for their horses in every circumstance.
The organisations are working in association with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, British Veterinary Association, British Veterinary Dental Association, the Worldwide Association of Equine Dentistry and the land-based training organisation Lantra to develop national occupational standards.
Such standards will pave the way to allowing equine dental technicians the freedom to work within the law under an exemption order.
Currently, all equine dental care falls within the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 and, as such, should only be carried out by veterinary surgeons.
Equine vets and equine dental technicians have been trying to address this anomaly with the government for many years.
In 2004, the organisations drew up a list – revised in 2009 – of procedures that could be safely carried out by suitably qualified equine dental technicians and a list of those which should be carried out only by qualified veterinary surgeons because they involve sensitive tissues.
The envisaged exemption order will also provide better protection for horses and their owners by reinforcing the fact that only suitably qualified individuals are allowed to carry out equine dental care and treatments.
While unqualified individuals should become easier to identify under the proposed new scheme, those qualified will also be held to account if their performance is not up to scratch.
The first step towards the exemption order is the drawing up of national occupational standards to cover horse dentistry. It is hoped that these will be formalised by Lantra in early 2013.
British Equine Veterinary Association president Keith Chandler said he was thrilled that, after many years of working closely with equine dental technicians on the continuing education and qualification of its members, that progress was finally being made towards an exemption order.
British Association of Equine Dental Technicians chairwoman Gemma Lilly continued: “BAEDT and its membership is very happy to be a key part of the team that hopes to put the exemption order in place – it will be good news for equine dental technicians, horse owners, and their animals.”
Equine dental technician and member of the Worldwide Association of Equine Dentists, Martin Brookes, also supports the initiative. “This will be a really important step forward for responsible Equine Dental Technicians. It will further improve the working relationships between EDTs and vets and help to protect the welfare of the horse.”