The backroom girls and boys with the responsibility of looking after the world's elite dressage horses will receive official recognition for the first time at the European Dressage Championships at Hickstead (13th - 17th August).
The elite grooms, who travel the world with their charges, are to be officially represented at the Championships by Grooms Co-Ordinator, Lucy Katan, who will ensure that things run smoothly for them during the event. As Official Sponsors of the Grooms, Natural Animal Feeds will sponsor a new "Groom of the Show" award and time has been allowed in the hectic schedule for this to be presented in the International Arena. Grooms will be judged on their horse's turn out, their stable area tidiness and general attitude and friendliness at the show and the winning groom will receive a Jacket and a £100 cash prize from NAF.
The NAF financial commitment will also enable better facilities and conditions to be provided for the hardworking grooms than are usually available at major events. Each of the 80 or more grooms, who will be visiting the UK from all over the world, will receive a useful kit bag for use around the show. The bag will carry the NAF and European Dressage Championships logos and will contain NAF information and products, ensuring that the bag will become a valued item and used repeatedly at future shows.
Tracey Lloyd, Marketing Manager for NAF, says "We are absolutely delighted to be supporting the grooms in this way. It is about time these unsung heroes were recognised for their part and treated in the manner they deserve. All too often their hard work goes un-noticed, and we all know that without the back-up of a dedicated, knowledgeable groom, no horse or rider would ever make it into the arena in the first place!"
Dressage at Hickstead is renowned for its friendly atmosphere that is appreciated by competitors and spectators alike. The appointment of Lucy Katan as International Grooms Co-Ordinator aims to ensure that the grooms are made to feel welcome, comfortable and enjoy their role at this special event. "I greatly appreciate the vital role of the grooms at major events and we strive to ensure that they are properly welcomed and well looked after at Hickstead" says Show Director, Dane Rawlins.
Lucy was herself a groom at the WEG in 2002 and is now a member of the BEF working party that is seeking to improve conditions and career structure for elite grooms. "One of the aims is improvement in the way that grooms are treated at competitions and I hope that my commitment to Hickstead, and Hickstead's commitment to their grooms shows that finally this issue is moving forwards" says Lucy.
More information about the Championships is available on the website www.edc2003.com. Tickets are available from Ticketmaster on 0870 0602328 (24 hours) and at all Ticketmaster ticket centres nationwide. Book online at www.ticketmaster.co.uk. For Group bookings call 08705 94 94 94 94.