In the United Kingdom, owners of barefoot horses are facing an uncertain time as it has come to light that the FRC (farriers registration council) are seeking to regulate hoof care in its entirety and are proposing a change to the current law. Currently, the FRC regulates farriers (the definition of farrier in the UK being a person trained and qualified to trim and fit a metal shoe) but currently anyone can trim their own or someone else's horse or pony. Everyone that trims is governed by the animal welfare laws within the UK, and hoof care professionals must also demonstrate they are in line with the NOS (national occupational standard) which ensures that anyone working with horses feet has a duty of care and can be prosecuted if negligent. The proposed changes appear to challenge the right of horse owners to trim or maintain their horses hooves, and seeks to regulate any professional trimmer no matter where they learned their skill.
However, the National Farrier Training Agency has lost its funding from the Skills Funding Agency after an appalling Ofsted report in June this year, and the NFTA is not currently taking on new apprentices (http://www.farrierytraining.co.uk/news-and-publications/publications/joint-press-release-on-the-future-of-the-delivery-of-farriery/). It should also be noted that there is currently no module in the course to cover the trim and importantly the diet and management of barefoot horses. This obviously raises the concern as to how qualified the FRC are to regulate non-farriers.
We also have great concern that they wish to control the types of hoof protection we are allowed to use, they already deem an Easyboot Glue-On hoof boot to be a 'shoe' and hoof casts have also recently been added to the list of prohibited footwear (http://www.farrier-reg.gov.uk/information-and-resources/farriery-and-modern-materials). At present, removable hoof boots are allowed but with all the exciting developments in the world of hoof protection we feel it is important to maintain the freedom to protect our horses as we see fit. Sadly, the EasyShoe is one such new development that only a registered farrier is allowed to fit in the UK, yet the trim ideally suited to its use is clearly different from that required to fit a metal shoe!
In order to keep people informed, and form a case if required to defend our right to choose how we manage our barefoot horses, we have created a Facebook group and invite anyone from any country that has an interest in barefoot in the UK or feels they could help with our cause to join The Right to Trim: www.facebook.com/groups/TheRightToTrim.
Easycare's UK distributor and owner/ trimmer of five happy barefoot horses.