Code Of Conduct

Code of Conduct for the Equine Podiatry Association (UK)

Issue: 1.3
Last updated: 30th December 2022

Glossary of Terms

Association the Equine Podiatry Association (UK)
Member A current Member (other than an Honorary Member) of the Association
Horse A horse, pony, donkey, mule, ass or other equine animal
Client The owner of the Horse, or person given responsibility for the Horse by the owner
Practice A business partnership or group of professionals

Responsibilities to other association members (applies to all members)

  1. The Association’s jurisdiction applies to all current Members excepting Honorary Members.
  2. Members must uphold the dignity and integrity of the Association. This means that Members must not act in a way that is counter to the aims of the Association, might conflict with the Association’s work or might bring the Association into disrepute. Interactions on social media can be particularly problematic. The Social Media Policy details the requirements of the Association in this respect.
  3. Members should not imply that their personal views are the views of the Association.
    1. This includes issues about which the Association has an expressed view and those upon which it has not.
    2. Where the Association has not expressed a view, a Member must not substitute their own personal view for that of the Association.
    3. If a Member’s personal view differs from that of the Association they should make this clear when publicly expressing that view.
  4. Full Members may use the letters MEPA(UK) after their name and are entitled to use the EPA logo, but must be aware that in doing so they are responsible for upholding the reputation of the Association.
  5. A Practice may only use the letters MEPA(UK) or use the EPA logo if all hoofcare professionals within the Practice are Full Members of the Association.
  6. Members must abide by the disciplinary procedures of the Association.
  7. Full and Student Members shall be guided by any Standards for Practice published by the Equine Podiatry Association in their practice of equine podiatry.

Responsibilities to Horses and Clients (applies to all members)

  1. The welfare of the Horse must be put first.
  2. Members are expected to interact with all Horses humanely. This means handling the animal with consideration of its sentient status. Abusive handling of an animal or the use of excessive force or cruel methods of restraint will be considered a breach of this code.
  3. A Member shall not work with any Horse without the knowledge and consent of the Client.
  4. A Member who suspects a Horse is affected by any condition, medical or otherwise, beyond the range of his/her training and/or legal jurisdiction, must advise the Client to consult an appropriate professional.
  5. Members should keep the Client informed and involved in their Horse’s hoofcare regime.
  6. Effective communication between the Member and their Client is the key to successful practice. It is the Member’s responsibility to make every reasonable effort to ensure that what is said to the Client is heard and understood by them.
  7. Members should ensure that discussions with the Client are clear and unambiguous, and that they give the Client every opportunity to be fully involved in any discussions and case management decisions. Explanations should be given whenever possible in non-technical language and appropriate records kept of advice given. It is advised that Members should leave the Client with written confirmation of advice given, or provide such as soon as possible after the consultation. Members should accept that their own preference for a certain course of action cannot override the Client’s specific wishes other than on exceptional welfare grounds. It is, however, permissible for the Member to withdraw his/her services in the event of such disagreement.
  8. Members are expected to advise and educate their Clients so they have the knowledge and ability to practice safe and effective hoofcare.
  9. A Member must advise the Client to seek veterinary advice when it is required. Members unsure of whether veterinary involvement is needed are advised to err on the side of caution.
  10. Members should, except in exceptional circumstances, give a Client sufficient notice before withdrawing their services, where possible helping the Client to find another suitable practitioner.
  11. Members should accept that a Client has the right to transfer to another hoofcare professional. Where this happens, the Member should co-operate fully with the Client and the new hoofcare professional to ensure as far as possible an efficient and prompt handover. This should include provision of relevant records (or copies thereof) on request.
  12. Members should, where possible, make proper arrangements for the provision of emergency cover in their absence. Such cover should be provided by another Full Member wherever possible.
  13. Members should make all reasonable efforts to be punctual when visiting Clients. Where an appointment must be cancelled, the Member should make every effort to give the Client as much notice of this as possible and to make alternative arrangements.
  14. Members should give Clients their undivided attention and make sufficient time available to deal properly with their needs. If this is not possible for any reason, a second consultation at a timely interval should be arranged. It is essential that Members listen to their Clients and respect their views and values.
  15. Members should provide Clients with their contact details and respond to any enquiries within a reasonable time.
  16. Members are advised not to commence working with a Horse if it is felt that the conditions (for example, the temperament of the Horse or the environment the Horse is kept in) are unlikely to result in a successful outcome or are likely to put the Member, the client, or the Horse at unacceptable risk of injury.
  17. Members have the right to refuse a Client without giving a reason.
  18. Members should do all they can to make sure their Clients know what they can realistically expect from an Equine Podiatrist. If a Client has unrealistic expectations, it is the Member’s responsibility to make this clear and explain what exactly is unrealistic and why.
  19. Members should explain the usual inherent risks associated with any particular approach. This means risks that are known, documented or which could reasonably be expected at the time.
  20. Members must never allow their care of Horses or their dealings with Clients, other Members or members of the public to be prejudiced by their views. This includes views about Client’s gender, ethnicity, disability, culture, beliefs, sexuality, lifestyle, age, social status, language difficulties or any other characteristic.
  21. When a Member agrees to visit a Client they enter into a contractual relationship, the terms of which must be clearly understood and accepted on both sides. It is the Member’s duty to ensure, to the best of their ability, that the Client understands what the Member can and cannot offer, both during and after the consultation.
  22. The Member’s side of the contract is to take reasonable care when using professional knowledge and skills in their work. Members must also take every reasonable step to ensure that anyone assisting them at their place of work is competent to carry out the duties delegated to them, aware of their responsibilities, properly trained and supervised where necessary.
  23. Members must not delegate Equine Podiatry care to anyone who is not a full Member of the Association.
  24. Members must not practice when under the influence of alcohol or any other judgment-impairing drug or substance.
  25. If a Member visits a Client whose Horse has a known communicable disease, that Member should take all reasonable steps to avoid transmission of that disease to other Horses in their care. Veterinary advice should be sought where necessary.
  26. Members must not disclose confidential records or information about Clients without that Client’s consent (either written or verbal), unless compelled to do so by order of the court or other legal authority or in the public interest.
  27. If a concern about welfare is potentially life threatening and the Client does not take a Member’s advice, a relevant animal welfare organisation and/or the responsible Veterinary Surgeon (if known) should be informed.
  28. When asked to examine a Horse that is the subject of a claim or complaint, the Member should ensure that statements of fact are clearly differentiated from opinions. Comments should be confined to what is apparent at the time of inspection. Opinions must only be given in areas where the Member is professionally competent.
  29. When writing reports, completing forms or otherwise providing any information for a third party, Members must always be honest and accurate and refrain from making personal judgments. Members must take reasonable steps to verify the information they provide and not seek to mislead by omitting relevant information.

Responsibilities to colleagues and other professionals (applies to all members)

  1. If a Horse is being treated by a veterinarian and this treatment has relevance to hoofcare, the Member must keep the veterinarian informed of their actions and recommendations. Members should strive to work in conjunction with the veterinarian to find a mutually agreeable approach.
  2. Members should not criticise the work of another equine care professional (for example a vet, farrier or other hoofcare professional). In situations where negligence or malpractice on the part of another professional can clearly be demonstrated, a Member should advise the Client to seek an alternative practitioner. It is acceptable to discuss with a Client where a Member’s care or case management differs from another professional’s, but not in such a way as to criticise differences in practice or theory that are well established solely on the grounds that they differ. Where the Client seeks an opinion, a Member should keep comments about other professionals or individuals completely factual and not be drawn into giving personal opinions that could reflect badly on the professional conduct of the Member or the Association.
  3. Members should aim to promote good relationships between Equine Podiatrists, Farriers, Veterinarians and other equine care professionals.
  4. Members should advertise in a positive manner commenting only on what they can offer and should not compare their services to that of any other profession or individual.
  5. A Member who has concerns about the competence of a colleague or other professional is encouraged to discuss this with the individual concerned where appropriate and/or raise the matter with the appropriate regulatory body for that profession.
  6. Although it is the free choice of the Client to employ whichever practitioner they like, Members must not target other Members’ Clients for their own business. Clients may be transferred amongst Members if mutually acceptable to all parties.
  7. If Members work in association with each other, or share the care of Clients with other equine professionals, Members must ensure that there is clear communication between themselves and those colleagues. Members must also ensure that effective handover procedures are in place. This may be done verbally, although it is recommended that a record of the handover should be made in the Client’s records.

When things go wrong (applies to all members)

  1. A sympathetic approach should be used in response to a complaint rather than immediate denial and defensiveness. An expression of sorrow that an animal has died or that someone is distressed by what has happened is appropriate and does not in itself amount to an admission of liability.

The Law

Civil proceedings (applies to all members)

  1. If civil court proceedings are issued against a Member in relation to that Member’s practice of Equine Podiatry, the Member must notify the Association and give full details as soon as reasonably practicable. This must occur within 28 days of service of the summons at the latest.

Criminal convictions (applies to all Members)

  1. The Association will take seriously any conviction against a Member that involves cruelty to animals. Other criminal convictions will be considered if they indicate that a Member has been guilty of an offence that would constitute serious professional misconduct.
  2. If a Full or Student Member is convicted of a criminal offence (other than a minor motoring offence), that Member must notify the Association and give full details as soon as reasonably practicable or within 28 days of the conviction at the latest. The Association will require a Certificate of Conviction, obtainable from the convicting court.

What the law requires (applies to Full and Student Members only)

  1. Each Member must act with due regard to the laws of the country in which he or she is working at the time.
  2. Members working in the UK must adhere to the Farriers (Registration) Act 1975, The Veterinary Surgeons Act (1966), The Animal Welfare Act (2006), The Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) and any other legislation or  statutory instruments relating to the care of animals.
  3. Members must be aware of their responsibilities as witnesses of fact or as expert witnesses in any civil or criminal proceedings in which they may be involved.
  4. When keeping and maintaining records, Members should ensure that they adhere to the requirements of the Data Protection Act 2018.
  5. Members should make every effort to ensure that they understand all legal requirements that may apply to them in their practice of Equine Podiatry.

Health and safety at work (applies to Full and Student Members only)

  1. The law lays down detailed requirements for health and safety in the workplace. It is the responsibility Members to be aware of these, to keep up to date with them, and also to ensure that their work environments comply with them.
  2. Members must ensure that they have appropriate procedures in place to cope in the event of a medical or veterinary emergency.

Insurance (applies to all members)

  1. All members must have public liability insurance and professional indemnity insurance to cover all professional interactions with equines relating to equine podiatry when working for reward (financial or otherwise). Details are set out in the Member Insurance Rules

Financial and commercial activities (applies to Full and Student Members only)

  1. Members should in their practice of Equine Podiatry, charge fees responsibly and in a way that avoids bringing the profession into disrepute.
    1. Members should inform Clients of fees charged and what those fees cover. This should be done in advance of consultations and trimming of hooves.
    2. A Member’s fees should relate to the products/services provided and should not be inflated in respect of work that will be paid for by an insurance company or other third party.
  2. All Members must be honest and reliable in all their financial and commercial activities. The business affairs of individual Members (or a group of Members) must not:
    1. influence a Member’s attitude towards any Client
    2. influence any case management decisions or recommendations without good clinical indication
    3. compromise the care a Member provides
  3. A Member may recommend products or services to Clients but must, at the time of recommendation, declare any significant financial benefit they may receive for this. Members must only recommend products or services that will, in their professional judgment, benefit the Client.
  4. Members should declare to a Client any financial or other benefit they receive for introducing that Client to other professionals or commercial organisations whether or not this relates to hoofcare.

Advertising (applies to all members)

  1. Advertising of equine podiatry services should not propose postal, telephone or email consultations.
  2. Care should be taken not to make claims about services, abilities or products, which cannot fully be supported.
  3. Members should not indicate endorsement by the Association of any product or service without prior approval of the Association Council.
  4. No member may claim (directly or by implication) a qualification or level of training in Equine Podiatry that they do not have. Student members must ensure that their clients are aware that they are students.
  5. In dealings with the media, when articles or other media items are describing the work of a Member or quoting a Member, that Member must take appropriate steps to ensure that all material is professional and accurate. This important interface with the public should not run the risk of bringing either equine podiatry or the EPA into disrepute. If any report, article or media item contains inaccuracies, the Member should seek to correct these publicly.