BUDDING or practising equine dentists champing at the bit for a homegrown, internationally recognised qualification can now get one right here in Tamworth.
The first students started the 18-month certificate IV in equine dentistry on Monday, having come from across the country to do their hands-on training.
Today they were in the training rooms at AELEC, looking at the teeth and jaws of horse skulls that lined the bench and sat in front of each student.
The registered training organisation is Joblink Plus, and training executive manager Samantha Crebert said: “I never thought I’d be issuing purchase orders for horse heads.”
Ms Crebert said Joblink had been asked by people in the equine industry to create the updated course.
Containing 120 mandatory workplace hours, meeting the latest codes of practice and quality-assured through the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), it’s the first of its kind in Australia.
“This training organisation has made a huge effort to lift the bar,” trainer Belinda Smith, of Eugowra, said.
“It will be a qualification [the students] can take to other countries … all veterinarians, non-veterinarians and anyone interested in performing fee-for-service equine dentistry in this country should do this course.”
Students from afar
The current crop of students is in town for an 18-day residential with local and far-flung trainers who have worked nationally and internationally.
They have come from as far as Western Australia and Far North Queensland to learn from trainers who are considered the best in the business, and whose services are sought-after nationally and overseas.
One of the students is Cherie Bramisch, who does horse training, breaking and dentistry as far north as Araukun, Weipa and even Bamaga.
“The reason I enrolled was the lack of qualified equine dentists in that area … we fly up the likes of Ian Wharton – one of our trainers here – and they’ll spend a couple of weeks up there,” she said.
“The need up there is huge – and the need for qualified people, because it’s unrestricted.”
As for the importance of equine dental health, she said: “It’s a lot like humans – if you look after your teeth, you’ll have them for the rest of your life.”
“Teeth are associated with balance, behaviour, weight, nutrition,” she said.
“For argument’s sake, if you’ve got a horse who’s … not eating his food properly, it means he’s swallowing it but it’s not masticated enough [and he’s] only digesting a portion of what he should be digesting.”
Tamworth’s Sandra Vodic, who is the course co-ordinator and a trainer, also developed the training materials.
Joblink Plus will do a second intake in early March before the next residential workshop.