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The equestrian Angels
1:35pm Monday 20th September 2010 in August
THEY are often the unsung heroes of the yard, working long and hard to help ensure horses are in tip-top condition.
As many grooms know, working with horses is an incredibly rewarding career which requires, among other things, dedication, hard work and compassion.
However, for some grooms the conditions they work under are not always satisfactory.
The British Grooms Association (BGA) was launched in 2007 in order to give grooms a united voice and the support and recognition they deserve.
As the only professional grooms association in the world, the BGA provides an association all grooms in the UK and British grooms abroad can be part of.
The BGA strongly believes grooms are the backbone of the equestrian industry, and should be treated as industry professionals.
It aims to increase national and international recognition of grooms, and the work they do.
As a young social enterprise, the BGA relies on the work its founder, Lucy Katan, and its volunteers do.
Essex county representative Joanne Hooker has been appointed head of the area representatives, a team of dedicated grooms who are passionate about spreading the word.
“I am thrilled to have been offered this position.The work the BGA does on our behalf to boost the profile of our profession is absolutely vital, and I am pleased I can give something back by promoting the association and encouraging all grooms to join,” says Joanne.
Joanne, 29, has been working as head groom at Oldbury Farm stables in Great Wakering for seven years, and competes at county level showing on her Haflinger gelding, who has been given to her by her boss as part of her wage packet.
“I absolutely love my job and the opportunities it gives me,”
adds Joanne.“Not everyone is this fortunate, and the thought of how a small minority of grooms are treated disappoints me terribly. It is something the BGA is working hard to tackle.”
To help confront employment issues in the equestrian industry, the BGA launched the Equine Employers Handbook.
The handbook is an excellent tool to ensure staff are employed within the parameters of the law, and is a helpful, user-friendly, guide for all equestrian employers.
As well as working towards better working conditions for grooms, the BGA also wants to support knowledge and skills for its members and has set up the Equine Skills CV (ESCV) in conjunction with the Sector Skills Council for the environmental and landbases sector, known as Lantra.
The ESCV is not a qualification but a record of achievement, which allows grooms to receive recognition for skills, achieve a recognised job title to match their experience and ability, and to identify areas where they excel and areas they need to build skills.
It also gives the employer a better understanding of a groom’s skills and level they are working to.
The ESCV records all personal achievements as well as working through a number of set tasks to complete four levels: Foundation, intermediate, advanced and elite.
“I am currently completing my ESCV,” says Joanne,“and my staff members are also completing their relevant levels. I feel the ESCV is a practical way of recognising your skills, as not everyone is able to do a training course.”
The BGA area reps will be attending many shows over the summer and will be armed with posters and forms to offer advice and support to grooms looking to join the BGA.
For more information and to join call 0845 331 6039 or visit www.british grooms.org.uk Standard membership starts at just £17.50 per year.