Q. You call yourself a horse dentist - what training have you received?
A. I did a course of horse dentistry which usually takes 18 months to 2 years. It involves a very large theoretical component studying horse anatomy, dissection, and the study of many aspects of nutrition, etc. The students are required to pass tests on each module relating to the content of the theoretical studies. Then there is the practical side of the course where we are required to work with very experienced horse dentists, travelling with them to observe and be shown, as well as partake in the treatment of horses’ teeth.
We were taught how to evaluate a horse and its condition, examine its teeth, gums and mouth generally and make an assessment of what, if any, treatment is required. We were instructed in the use of all of the instruments we need, and were observed and instructed using the instruments. Many months were spent treating horses, firstly at knackery yards where we firstly treated the horses, then in a class situation dissecting the horse we treated where an evaluation was made of our work. These very sobering instructions really were of huge benefit and while it seems awful to learn on horses about to be killed, the benefits were immense. It must be noted that during this process we were guided by our instructors on every aspect of work we performed, and every consideration was given to ensure the comfort of the individual animals we worked on. After our instructors were satisfied we had sufficient ability our work progressed to a stage where we treated privately owned horses under the guidance of instructors.
When it was believed we had sufficient skills to progress to working as a dentist we were required to treat several horses where our work was appraised to ensure it was up to standard that we could work as a horse dentist and were issued a Diploma of Horse Dentistry. I then went on to work as a horse dentist and continued to work with other dentists to gain further experience and hone my skills.