‘Totally wrong’: grooms forced to drink unsafe water from hoses or suffer dehydration

  • Grooms having to drink from hosepipes is “totally wrong”, it has been emphasised, and it is the duty of the equestrian community to ensure all staff have access to safe drinking water.

    This is the message from the International Grooms Association (IGA) as it launches its new “Hydrated happy grooms” campaign, to highlight the issue of people working through dehydration at FEI events.

    “The two key issues for grooms were proximity of drinking water sources to the stables and pricing – during a busy day some grooms do not have time to leave the stable area, and they cannot afford showground prices for bottled water,” an IGA spokesman said.

    The campaign is aimed at encouraging show organisers and venues to provide “hydration stations” in stable areas and beside arenas.

    “In places where the tap water is safe to drink, organisers should ensure grooms are aware of this and provide cups so grooms are able to take advantage of the supply,” the spokesman said, adding that the gold standard will be for shows that provide reusable cups or bottles to be filled at the hydration stations.

    IGA executive director Lucy Katan said: “One of the key findings of last year’s IGA member voice survey was the problems caused for grooms when there is no drinking water in the stables. In 2023 it is totally wrong for grooms to consider dehydration ‘just a reality’ or to be drinking from washbay hosepipes.

    “The impact and risks of dehydration are well known – and anyone who left a horse without water would be rightly deplored. If horse sport is to maintain a positive social licence, surely we must consider the welfare of those people whose role is to ensure the welfare of the horse.

    “It is the duty of the equestrian community to support grooms in their work by ensuring they are able to quickly access drinking water.”

    The spokesman said the IGA works with shows to recognise grooms’ contribution, such as with prizes, but that practical measures such as this “can make a material difference to the groom’s working day but also their overall health and happiness”.

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