‘It seems like nobody wants to work’: Jay Halim on the equine industry staffing crisis

  • A brief trawl of social media right now will find posts galore from riders seeking grooms and other stable staff, with many bemoaning a real shortage of workers in the market.

    International showjumper Jay Halim is one such rider who has found himself short of a groom on several occasions recently, as he reveals to H&H showjumping editor Jennifer Donald on this week’s episode of The Horse & Hound Podcast.

    “Everybody is looking for grooms and it is hard work, but it’s a really rewarding job,” says Jay. “But nobody wants to work. It seems to be a struggle in all walks of life though – I have friends in the hospitality industry and they’re struggling to get members of staff, so I don’t think it’s just the equestrian world.

    “We’ve been advertising for a riding role and a grooming role, but people who come in to ride don’t want to do yard work, or they expect to have a string of horses handed to them. That never happened for me and it’s not real life.

    “Serving an apprenticeship with the Fletchers has stood me in good stead because I learnt how to work and I continue to do so,” he adds.

    “The last girl that worked with me stayed for six and a half years, she worked really hard and I gave her opportunities – she got to ride at all the international shows including a Global Champions Tour – because I do try to give back, I feel like I’m really fair. But at the same time she worked extremely hard and deserved the opportunities. I’m not going to bend over backwards for people who don’t work as hard.”

    Jay even found himself competing in the international classes at Horse of the Year Show last year – where he won the speed horse of the year riding Aragon Z – without a groom.

    “I plaited the horses up each day and I don’t think a lot of these younger riders could do that on their own,” he says. “Which is fortunate for them – I don’t knock it in the slightest – but I just think that’s how we’re evolving.

    “So it’s a really tough one – it’s a generational thing I think,” says Jay. “I’m making myself sound like a moany old man now!”

    Hear more from Jay Halim as he talks about the UK’s winter international shows, a very exciting eight-year-old and why he has a “lower leg like a ballerina” on episode 91 of The Horse & Hound Podcast – listen here or search “The Horse & Hound Podcast” in your favourite podcast app.

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