UKHSU - The United Kingdom Horse Shoers Union

   

   
 
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UKHSU response to the Scottish Executive Consultation on extending the Farriers Registration Act to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland

This is the full text of our response to the Scottish Executive. We are in favour in principle but would recommend that the current system is in urgent need of reform.

In forming our views our first consideration has been for the welfare of horses, ponies and donkeys. The Farriers Registra tion Act has always been regarded by farriers as an animal welfare Act. There appear to be increasing numbers of horses in the Highlands and Islands, mostly used for leisure. We believe that there are currently more Registered farriers in the High lands and Islands than ever before.

It should be noted that neither Northern or Southern Ireland or most of the EU are covered by any Registration system.

There are alternatives to the current proposals:

1) Establish a separate Scottish Registration system for all of Scotland.

2) Deregulate farriery in the whole of Scotland.

3) Extend the Act to the Highlands but not the Islands. If the Act were to be applied to the Scottish Islands this would leave islands off England and Wales still exempt, a strange anomaly. Even in parts of the Highlands eg Fort William, Caithness because of the distances involved there is some reliance on gamekeepers etc to put on lost shoes - this reliance would still continue after any legislation. Registration would work better in the Islands if there were subsidies paid to farriers as there are for vets.

Comments on the discussion letter:

"Background

"Farriery is defined within the Act as "any work in connection with the preparation or treatment of the foot of a horse for the immediate reception of a shoe thereon, the fitting by nailing or otherwise of a shoe to the foot or the finishing off of such work to the foot". What this means is that, if the foot will finish up shod, any work such as trimming counts as farriery. If the foot will not be shod, at the end of the process, trimming does not count as farriery and anyone may carry it out."

This is incorrect. Mr Nicholas Budgen MP made a specific statement that preliminary rasping or filing prior to the application of a horse shoe was not deemed to be an act of farriery, this observation was supported by the then secretary of state Dame Shirley Summerskill. This is laid out in Hansards (1).

"Reasons for Extending the Provisions of Regulation 16 of the Act to Cover the Highlands and Islands Areas of Scotland

"Applying the above provisions would ensure that:

"1) all persons shoeing horses would be regulated, would be expected to abide by a code of conduct, and would be subject to disciplinary penalties in the event of serious professional misconduct;"

There are serious issues with the FRC Disciplinary system. The FRC Farriers Code of Conduct is widely held to be unsatisfactory - many farriers feel that it is unnecessarily complicated, overreaching and oppressive. Disciplinary penalties are applied to matters unrelated to standards of horseshoeing. The FRC are currently instigating Criminal Records Bureau checks for all new training farriers and are considering whether to extend this to all registered farriers - following notification of criminal offences to the FRC there have been disciplinary actions taken resulting in the farriers concerned being struck off the Register. Disciplinary hearings are usually held in London. Even when a farrier is exonerated of a disciplinary charge there is no award of costs which commonly exceed £10,000. It is impossible to obtain insurance to cover all of a farriers legal expenses.

"2) more extensive lists of registered farriers would be available from the FRC, free of charge, to horse owners and members of the public;"

A list of farriers in a single postcode area is currently free but for additional areas there is a charge of £2

"3) all registered farriers would be encouraged to remain up to date in their training, take part in a programme of Continuing Professional Development and develop good working relationships with local veterinary practices;"

There is nothing to stop farriers registering voluntarily, or to stop unregistered farriers from attending CPD events world wide.

"4) following initial transitional arrangements to admit existing farriers onto the Register, all new entrants to the craft
would be properly trained and would be required to pass a prescribed examination"

This is not possible as anyone with farriery experience in another EU state, with no requirement for training or qualifica
tions, will be entitled to register

"5) farriers based in the Highlands and Islands areas would be able to carry out farriery in the rest of the UK without committing a criminal offence."

Many farriers based in the area are already registered and of the rest all those who have been shoeing for 6 years are entitled to register.

We were initially inclined to recommend that if you do extend the Act then it be to the Highlands and not the Islands. However given that the Islands are currently reasonably well served by farriers from the mainland we feel that it would be sensible to get the issue sorted out for once and for all and to extend the Act to cover all of Scotland. It must be accepted by horse owners in remote areas that they must sometimes be prepared to wait a matter of weeks for farriery attention.

The UKHSU recommend that you make the following conditions:

1) All Disciplinary hearings of Scottish based farriers to be held in Scotland

2) Disciplinary action should not be taken against any farrier unless he or she has been convicted of an offence either (a) relating to the welfare of animals and connected to the carrying out of a farriery procedure, or (b) with serious implications for the safety of the public. This is in line with the situation currently relating to Equine Dental Technicians (ref 2).

3) The Farriers Registration Council to be included in the Freedom Of Information Act

4) The representative of Scottish Enterprise on the FRC be replaced by an elected representative of Scottish farriers.

5) Separation of the Farriery Training Service from the FRC. To take advantage of Registration there needs to be a less bureaucratic and more user friendly apprenticeship system.

6) The amendment of S T A T U T O R Y I N S T R U M E N T 2002/1597 European Communities (Recognition of
Qualifications and Experience) (Third General System) Regulations 2002 which incorrectly states that: "The profession of farrier is an activity within the scope of the Directive to which access in the United Kingdom is regulated by law on
the basis of particular qualifications or experience." Since entry to farriery on the UK is solely on the basis of examina-
tions and qualifications, as is the case for example with veterinary surgery, it is imperative that the law is correctly drafted to prevent unqualified persons becoming registered. It would be necessary in extending the Act to the Highlands and Islands to allow currently unregistered farriers to become registered on the basis of experience but this should be seen purely as a transitional arrangement as happened when the original Farriers Registration Act was brought in and also happened when the Veterinary Surgeons Act was passed in 1966.

7) We suggest that discussions are instigated to look into the merits of a scheme of subsidy administered by a body such as the ILPH or SSPCA whereby if a farrier has to make an uneconomic visit on welfare grounds where an owner cannot afford the cost or an owner cannot be found then the farriers bill will be paid. This is similar for example to the practice in England and Wales where the RSPCA will often pay a vets bill when the owner cannot afford treatment. We would also suggest that some consideration be given to a fuel subsidy to farriers due to the large distances travelled.

8) The benefits of employing a Registered farrier should be promoted throughout the Highlands and Islands. The FRC have failed to do this in recent years.

9) Though not directly relevant we would also like to make the point on behalf of our members that it would be helpful if hunting was to be supported as for a number of farriers this affects their livelihood.

references

1) Hansards (House of Commons Standing Committee C 12th March 1975).

2) S T A T U T O R Y I N S T R U M E N T The Veterinary Surgery (Equine Dental Procedures) Order 2003 -

"Suspension and revocation of certificates of exemption

6. (1) The Secretary of State may suspend or revoke the certificate of exemption of any qualified Equine Dental Technician who is convicted of an offence relating to the welfare of animals and connected to carrying out an authorised procedure."