Six horse enthusiasts have become the first crop of graduates from Joblink Plus' equine dentistry studies and are set to take their new skills back to rural and remote towns across the country.
Traditionally an 18-month program, the students officially enrolled in November 2018 and were due to graduate in June but faced a number of disruptions due to COVID-19.
Students were required to complete a number of assessments through correspondence and travelled to Tamworth on four seperate occasions to fulfil a total of 400 hours of practical experience.
Their studies culminated at the Australian Equine and Livestock Events Centre (AELEC) on Friday where they completed their final live examination.
There was no room for error, as the only equine dentistry training currently running in Australia only those with a clean sheet would be awarded their certificate four.
Head trainer Belinda Smith said the course was limited to 10 students at a time and they already had a wait list of applicants, such had been the interest in the course.
"Joblink has really strived to put a lot of energy and effort into this course," she said.
"It was expensive for them to set up but I hope they are seeing the rewards now with all the students and we have got a waiting list of applicants, we have got so much interest for the course.
"A lot of the people that come are from rural, regional and remote areas. We are trying to encourage kids to train in something that they can do in their home town."
Among the graduates was Jacob Dunn who travelled from Derby in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.
With no permanent equine dentist in town, many in his local region relied on a travelling service once a year.
Mr Dunn hoped he could provide a service more often with his new skills.
"Hopefully it just gets more horses treated and just having the availability there if they want something checked or need horses done and they don't fit in the time with the people travelling through," he said.
"I just remember when I first come over, just realising how much I didn't know.
"I've had horses my whole life and I suppose I didn't take the time or be shown or educated on that side of it, there is a lot more in it then I initially thought.
"Once you understand the anatomy and biomechanics behind it, it's just getting in horses mouths and learning to run your tools and balancing mouths. It takes a bit of time but I really enjoy it."
With the pleasure and performance horse industry continuing to grow, she said there would never not be enough work for the graduates.
"We have got some equine dental technicians whose businesses are so busy they are looking to expand and employ other people but as yet we haven't had a course that reflects what the industry needs," she said.
Another group of students will be in Tamworth in March for their practical studies.
The course is currently under review due to the rapid changes in the industry and the need to now incorporate motorised equipment into the teachings.
Queensland student Jess Hagedoorn of Pittsworth said equine dentistry was something that was out of sight, out of mind for a lot of people.
"It's very easy to lose a finger trying to check it on your own so it's paramount that we start educating ourselves and getting better dental care for our horses," she said.
"Because that's where it all starts, with them being able to eat and digest food properly and it enhances their comfort and likelihood of better performance."