Students have graduated from the UK's first ever diploma in equine legislation, welfare and field skills.

Until the Horse Trust created the Level 3 diploma in December 2016 there was no regulated qualification for the many people working or volunteering in vital roles and, for the sector, no accepted standard gauge of professional competence.

There are over one hundred organisations actively involved in protecting and promoting equine welfare including those that investigate allegations of welfare compromise or enforce welfare and other equine legislation, those who respond to situations where horses are found in distress, abandoned or fly-grazed and the organisations that care for and rehabilitate horses experiencing welfare compromise.

The diploma was developed in consultation with statutory organisations, veterinary surgeons, nutritionists, equine behaviourists and animal and equine welfare charities. It was created specifically for the equine welfare sector by The Horse Trust and Lantra Awards.

All of this first cohort of learners work as welfare field officers or for boarding establishments that house welfare cases and consequently they have a vital role in the safeguarding of horses across the UK.

Discussing the first graduates Charlotte Launder, training manager at The Horse Trust said: "It is so rewarding to see the first students achieve the qualification. We are very proud of them and they have been a brilliant first cohort proving us with excellent feedback which will help

us to enhance the course structure and content further for future learners.

"Developing the qualification has been a big commitment for The Horse Trust involving a significant amount of work but we believe it is vital for people that work in the UK’s equine welfare sector to be able to demonstrate their capabilities for the brilliant and important

work they do."

Asked about the value of the diploma Sophie Kendrick, welfare co-ordinator at Hope Pastures said: "An excellent qualification which covers crucial areas essential for facilitating greater knowledge of equine welfare in the UK. It will enable us to take important steps forward to enable us to help more equines and prevent cruelty."