I recently had the pleasure of working with Victoria Hammond, an Equine Dental Technician (EDT) based in Somerset. To qualify and become a member of the British Association of Equine Dental Technicians and to be recognised by the British Equine Veterinary Association and also the British Veterinary Dental Association, requires some very serious and significant training today.   Thankfully the legislation behind equine dentistry has changed an enormous amount in recent years and continues to develop, always with the welfare of the horse at the heart of all consideration.  Discovering a bit more through Victoria was a really enlightening time…

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In my time as a horse owner I was always diligent in having my horses’ teeth checked regularly, however it was always done through my Vet as the era of the dedicated EDT hadn’t quite taken off.  Along would come my vet, not always with the gag, and a manual rasp in hand and away they’d go.  To be honest it always seemed a pretty brutal aspect to the horses annual MOT but we were told it looked worse than it was and, much like farrier work, the horse rarely felt anything and was always relieved at the end of their session.  With no more hooks or rough parts to their teeth they’d merrily be more happier in their mouth, be it in the bridle or with their food.

Whilst much of that basic theory is still very much true, the rigorous courses and examinations that a prospective EDT needs to go through today, together with the far more effective and efficient tools of the trade being on-hand, means that actually the horse really is in a better place at the end of their session…

To be honest I never really paid a huge amount of attention to the work my vets did on my own horses back then, in fact I was probably too busy holding the horses or staying out of the way to really be able to appreciate what happens.  Victoria gave me the opportunity to really pay attention to the process and it was absolutely fascinating.  We were at home working that day with three of the four horses Victoria owns.  Her big handsome grey hunter, Louey, who was a complete gentleman throughout the whole process, which was incredible really as there was no-one to hold him as she worked and I worked alongside her and she told me about her career to date.

Victoria has been an EDT for more than 13 years, having qualified in 2005 from Hartpury College.  After a spell back there as a lecturer Victoria further developed her skills by doing some additional training in the USA.

Even with this big chap behaving it was clear this was still a very physical profession today. Yes, it’s true that some of the tools are no longer manual but it still takes some considerable effort to do each horse correctly.  It’s easy to see that at the end of a day full of even the most well-behaved horses to attend to requires a lot of fitness and a strong body.  However not every horse behaves and although Victoria works in a very calm, respectful, and considered manner, she is regularly pushed around by horses far less willing than her own Louey.  It’s rare that a horse is actually worried about the process, more that their ground manners aren’t as good as they could be.  It reminds me that it is our responsibility to manage the manners of our own horses to enable all professionals to carry out their services with as limited risk as possible.  It shouldn’t be down to our Dentists or Farriers to teach horses to stand and behave….

After Louey was sorted it was the time of his two yard buddies, Timmy and Badger.  Now this was going to be interesting and a complete contrast for us to both work with.  You see these two are miniature Shetlands!  We went from 17hh Louey to these two and suddenly there was a need to bend down an awful lot more and the physical aspect for both of us actually got more intense… have you ever tried to shoot up into the mouth of a tiny pony from behind an EDT…. yeah, hands and knees and a huge hope that Timmy and Badger were as well behaved as Louey was.

Well, as these two are rarely stabled or haltered (they are essentially pets who wander around the yard to keep one hunter company when the other is left at home during the season) my initial reaction was to laugh and then I went with the ‘oh well, what the hell’ thought process as Victoria grabbed the first one, Timmy, who’d merrily been nibbling my hair as I photographed Louey (obviously supervising the whole process for Victoria).   He did initially have that typical Shetland ‘eye’ thing going on but when he realised what was happening he behaved so well, which for a young chap was lovely to see.  Badger was equally happy to comply too.

They were both utterly adorable really.  Timmy didn’t leave Badger’s side for long when it was his older brother’s time, again obviously feeling the need to supervise once more.

At the end of our time together I had a much greater understanding of the profession and the expertise needed to get the job done.  It was a complete pleasure to watch Victoria work and to listen to her explain some of the processes and her passion for her career down here in the South West.

If you want to give your horse the best opportunity to be physically happy and comfortable in their mouth, and why wouldn’t you (?), then if you head to the BAEDT website you’ll find out more about the process.  You’ll find the list of their qualified members here.

If you are based in Somerset and want to speak to Victoria, you can keep up with her here by popping to her Facebook Page for the latest news and offers. 

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If you are an equine or rural based business and looking for commercial imagery for your website or social media platforms then please do drop me a message and we can discuss your requirements.

Have a fabulous week ahead!

Rachel x