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Blog: Attending the BGA’s Pro-Groom School

By Emilia Bishop

On Monday 23rd October, I had the privilege of attending the British Groom’s Association’s first Pro-Groom School event held at Stallion AI’s facilities in Shropshire, as Haddon Training’s Apprenticeship Ambassador. The event was exclusive to BGA members, and I cannot thank Haddon Training and the British Grooms Association enough for the opportunity to attend – I had such a brilliant day and learnt so much from the professionals that came to show us their skills!

After being welcomed by the team from the BGA, we went into small groups and spent time with each of the professionals. We were so lucky to have three of the best grooms in the industry at the event – Alan DaviesJenny Ellis and Jackie Potts, alongside other top professionals. They shared their knowledge in engaging sessions and were open to answer any questions from attendees.

Session 1: Alan Davies on Competition Turnout

Our first session was with Professional Groom Alan Davies, where we talked about competition turnout. Alan showed us his technique for plaits and quarter marks, which I think will take myself some practice to perfect! As a competition groom, it was incredibly helpful to get the opportunity to ask Alan’s opinion on different products too – from the best brushes to use, to the best groom techniques.

Session 2: Jackie Potts on Preparing for Competitions

Our next session was with renowned Head Groom Jackie Potts, who discussed preparing for a competition. Having never groomed for an FEI competition, it was great to hear her experiences and ask questions about the process because this is something I aspire to do in the future.

Session 3: Paul Thomason on Clean Sport and Anti-Doping

Our third session was with FEI vet Paul Thomason. He talked about the FEI’s Global Equine Anti-Doping and Controlled Medication Programme (EADCMP) for horses, and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for humans. Clean sport and anti-doping is talked about a lot in the industry already, but having the opportunity to ask questions to an official FEI Vet was very useful. I was able to gain a greater understanding into the testing processes featured in anti-doping programmes, which was a topic I was unfamiliar with before the session.

Session 4: Bedmax on BETA NOPS Accreditation

Next up we had a talk from Bedmax, a company who specialise in horse bedding products. Their talk focused largely on their BETA NOPS (British Equestrian Trade Association – Naturally Occurring Prohibited Substances) accreditation. They are the only bedding company to have been awarded this accreditation, which is a hugely important achievement.

Travelling Horses Abroad & Equine Massage Therapy

All attendees were then back in the main hall for a discussion on travelling horses abroad.  This was an interesting look into the process of flying horses, and what it is like to be a flying groom! We then attended a talk with Sophie Sparrow, who is an Veterinary Physiotherapist. She gave us a demonstration on one of the lovely stallions based at Stallion AI, and provided important pre and post exercise routines to give to our horses to help warm their muscles up.

Session 6: Jenny Ellis on Understanding Your Competition Horses

Following this, our group participated in a session with Elite Groom, Jenny Ellis, who focused on the topic of ‘understanding your competition horses’. This included a discussion on taking your horse’s temperature, pulse, and heart rate. Jenny emphasised the importance of knowing your horses inside and out, as every horse is different. What may be considered normal for one horse, could potentially pose an issue for another!

Final Session: The Importance of Good Employment

Finally, everyone gathered together to discuss the topic of ‘good employment’. One statistic that stood out to me was,

“55% of people who work in the equine industry do not possess a written contract”

The importance of good employment cannot be understated, and the Equestrian Employers Association (EEA) and BGA play a massive role in ensuring that those who work in the industry are supported.

The Pro-Groom School event was a brilliant day, and it provided a great opportunity to meet like-minded people and learn a variety of new skills. The event was highly informative, and I would recommend the event to any groom or aspiring groom!

A huge thank you to the BGA for organising such a brilliant event, and to Stallion AI for allowing us to use their incredible facilities. A massive thank you also to all the sponsors of the event, who provided amazing goody bags!

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