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That is just how it is

Lucy Katan, Executive Director of the British Grooms Association (BGA) shares her thoughts about changing attitudes and the importance of Good Employment Week.

'That is just how it is when you work with horses’ - a phrase I have heard hundreds of times over the past fifteen years since forming the British Grooms Association.

However, I think and I hope, that I am hearing it less and less - which is good news.

I am a social entrepreneur – that means that I want to ‘see and bring about change for my community'.

If I, and the rest of the team working at the British Grooms Association (BGA) and the Equestrian Employers Association (EEA) sat back and accepted the above phrase, the change would never happen.

We passionately believe that everyone who works has the right to be employed legally, fairly and kindly, and the equestrian industry is no exception.

Good Employment Week is the EEA's annual occasion where they raise the awareness of the importance of being employed/employing staff in a ‘Good’ manner - something that the BGA fully supports.

Times have changed in our equestrian sector. Although I acknowledge that it is not perfect yet, progress has happened and the pace of change is increasing.

So, what is Good Employment?

This is a phrase that I kind of made up!

However, for me it encompasses everything that I experienced in just one position when I was working as a groom:

I had the correct employment status and a written statement of terms of employment (contract) before I started the job. I was paid correctly for every hour I worked, I received payslips, had my tax and NI paid, my pension was set up and paid into and I was always paid on time.

My salary was reviewed annually, and I had key performance deliverables that resulted in a small annual bonus.

The holiday was planned at the beginning of the year, and we were positively encouraged to take all 28 days. We rarely worked extra hours, but when we did, we were paid overtime or given time off in lieu.

We felt valued as a team and thanks to regular team meetings and 1-1 appraisals I didn’t feel frightened to share any issues or how I was feeling. This really was the very best job I ever had, and it stuck with me forevermore.

This highlights that, even all those years ago, equestrian employers COULD and still CAN run a successful business

Is your job like this? 

The simple question is if not, why not?

Grooms, please be part of the change. Be educated about your employment status and what your rights are and please do not accept anything less than what is legally your right.

The BGA has created a brilliant website that should answer every question you have, but if it doesn’t, our team are here to guide you. We are all former grooms, so we do understand. Check your status here.


'Give your Staff a Pizza Day' was also my idea, and this derived from another great employment position that I previously held.

Many years after I ceased working hands-on with horses, I was a PA in a company. Once every so often, and without much warning, the boss asked me to treat the staff (35 of them) to pizza on a Friday lunchtime.

I would simply order the pizzas and then send out an all-staff email at midday saying “Pizza arriving in 30 mins” – I could hear all the individual office rooms whoop with delight at the surprise.

This simple effort, which really didn’t cost much in the big scheme of things, brought the team together and really was an appreciated thank you.

I always witnessed the following Monday the team come into work with a spring in their step and with a positive feeling towards their work, the company and their boss!

This year’s Give your Staff a Pizza Day was the biggest yet, with yards from all sectors joining in.

It was really lovely to see how it was embraced from the well-known equestrians like Carl Hester and Piggy March, to riding schools, hunt yards and many more.


Let’s together make this phrase “That is just how it is when you work with horses”…. a positive statement meaning that when you work with horses you are only ever employed properly. If everyone in our industry refused to work for employers who were not employing grooms correctly then the change would happen a lot faster...

We get that it is not easy, but we are committed to bringing about this change with you - the real question is... are you?






What the personal accident policy covers you for:

  • Whilst at work
  • All stable duties – mucking out, grooming, washing off, turning out
  • Clipping
  • Riding – including hacking and jumping
  • Hunting
  • Lunging
  • Breaking in
  • Holding horse for a vet and other procedures
  • Travelling horses both in the UK and abroad
  • Competing in line with your job including: jumping, dressage, eventing
  • Injuries that may happen to you whilst you are teaching - but you must also be grooming as part of your duties and not be a sole instructor

What the personal accident policy doesn’t cover you for:

  • Riding in a race, point to point or team chase
  • Stunt Riding
  • Accidents occurring whilst travelling to and from work
  • Riding and competing your own horse (but you can upgrade when applying for membership to include this)
  • Public Liability – this is a separate insurance policy - the Freelance Groom Liability Insurance
  • Care Custody and Control – this is a separate policy - the Freelance Groom Liability Insurance

If you require additional cover then please contact KBIS directly.


When you are working for other people you do most of the following; muck out, turn out/catch in, tack up, groom horses, exercise Horses (including hacking, jumping and schooling), in the care of your employer/client.




Predominantly ride horses for other people including schooling, exercising and competing.   

 Provide grooming services for someone else either full time or on a freelance basis i.e. an employer or a client.   


Employ staff – have an employers liability policy in your name NO NO YES
Buy and sell horses NO YES YES

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