The British Grooms Association (BGA) has launched a self-certified industry standard for freelancers in a first for the equestrian world.
Its aim is to reflect the skill and professionalism of good freelance grooms by rubberstamping them as legally compliant with insurance and tax laws, as well as good health and safety practices, promoting good horse welfare and committing to continual professional development.
“We created this after requests from some of our members,” BGA chief executive Lucy Katan told H&H. “They told us they want to be recognised as professionals who are doing things right, in terms of running their own businesses, paying tax, and having the right business structure and liability insurance.
“This is about creating an industry standard and the BGA representing its membership. We are giving them the ability to stamp themselves and their businesses as the best of the best and that raises professionalism, which is what our industry needs.
“It gives the genuine freelancer a more robust recognition of what they do.”
Ms Katan added it also raises individuals’ awareness of their employment status.
The system is self-certifying, meaning it does rely on individuals telling the truth, but Ms Katan said that in an industry where reputation is crucial, lying would undermine that person’s name.
The BGA will also investigate should allegations of falsifying information arise.
Mandy Elder, who has been a freelance competition driving groom for the past 20 years, welcomed the initiative.
“I think it’s a wonderful system,” she said. “The BGA is really trying to work for us in an industry that needs to change. It is early days, but hopefully it will be a really good thing. The horse industry works a lot through word of mouth, so a sticker isn’t going to do anything unless that person follows through on their claims.
“It is a great way of showing how well-trained good freelance grooms are — it’s not just about mucking out stables, there is so much more to it than that and the BGA is helping this to be recognised.”