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FEI signs Memorandum of Understanding with the International Grooms Association

Tuesday, 26 April 2022
FEI Sports Forum 2022

Photo © FEI FEI President Ingmar De Vos and Lucy Katan of the International Grooms Association exchange their signed Memorandum of Understanding at the FEI Sports Forum 2022 in Lausanne. Photo © FEI.

The FEI has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the International Grooms Association (IGA), officially recognizing the role of the grooms within the FEI. The MoU was signed on Tuesday morning at the FEI Sports Forum 2022 in Lausanne, Switzerland. 

An independent not-for-profit professional association, the IGA has been established to achieve greater representation and career recognition for grooms, as well as to improve their working conditions, especially at equestrian events where long hours are the norm.

“Today we will start by taking a big step forward for what I would consider to be one of the most important, yet rarely recognized, members of our community – the grooms,” FEI President Ingmar De Vos said. “We all know how hard grooms work to ensure our horses are happy, healthy and fit to compete at events around the world. And we also know how important horse welfare and well-being is for the development and success of our sport. The contribution in the vital role grooms play in the general day to day of our sport, and at every level, is undisputed and yet they are not an officially recognized stakeholder. Yes, we show our support and appreciation through different campaigns and educational programs like the FEI Best Groom Award or through FEI Solidarity courses and stories on social media and digital. We refer to them in some of our rules, but this does not constitute an official status.” 

“But, right now, today, that is going to change,” De Vos continued. “It was back in 2017 that we held our first official meeting of the FEI Grooms Working Group. And during this first encounter between the FEI and several grooms’ representatives, we tried to set out a framework and establish how the FEI could better represent their needs. We had a follow-up meeting in 2019, where we agreed on a plan of action, which included a dedicated grooms’ session at the Sports Forum 2020 to introduce the idea of an international grooms association that would act as a representative body for grooms and a link between the grooms’ community and the FEI. And for the reasons we all know, this session only took place in 2021. We had a cross-section of the community on the panel and discussed the status and the future of grooms, their needs and the official recognition within the FEI. When it comes to the representation of grooms and having a voice within the FEI, Lucy Katan – executive director of the British Grooms Association – has played an important role in this process, joining us for the 2019 Grooms Working Group meeting and again at the Sports Forum 2021, where she presented the concept of the International Grooms Association; an independent, not-for-profit professional association with a vision and mission to improve the status of the grooms worldwide. And today, I am very delighted to have her with us again, only now as the founding director of the International Grooms Association. And this to sign today the Memorandum of Understanding between the International Grooms Association and the FEI."

I am confident that together with these bodies, the grooms’ voice will be heard, and they will have their say in the long-term development of equestrian sport

"I have been very much impressed with the ambitious goals Lucy and her team have set for the IGA; to achieve greater representation and career recognition for grooms and to ensure that they have the support systems in place to assist them in their daily work. This is of course just the beginning, and there is still a lot more to do," De Vos said. "But we have set the wheels in motion with the new association – the IGA – to represent grooms, and the Grooms Consultative Group, chaired by my friend and former Executive Board Member Frank Kemperman. I am confident that together with these bodies, the grooms’ voice will be heard, and they will have their say in the long-term development of equestrian sport.”

“This is a milestone for both of our organizations, the IGA in its first year and the FEI in its 101st year – sorry that it has taken us a century to make this happen,” De Vos smiled. 

“Today is a moment in time for international competition grooms,” Lucy Katan said. “Just 12 months ago I presented the Forum a vision of an independent membership organization that provided the much needed support and voice for the grooms that work at the highest levels of our sport. It is thanks to direct support from the FEI and commitment for the vision from Ingmar, that the International Grooms Association is now formed and open for business. With a board of directors who have a combined 15 Olympic Games, 19 World Championships plus countless Europeans and PanAms between us, plus the support from our inaugural partners, I am confident that the IGA will become a success and achieve its vision in time.” 

“The IGA welcomes every groom from every nation who works for a rider or driver who competes at FEI level competitions, to come and join us,” Katan continued. “The membership fee is set at just 15 Euros per annum, to be affordable and accessible for everyone. The MoU is signed, and grooms now have a formal voice. Now we have to ensure that it is used constructively, progressively and collaboratively, to seek a better and happier working environment. So: Grooms of the world, for years, you and I have sat at the tack trunks in the stable corridor and discussed the challenges and aired our complaints. No one was listening. And we get that. Now is the time to change and I urge you to come and join the IGA and take your discussions into the professional body that now formally represents you.”

“Finally, a thank you to the international grooms of the world. You are the heart and soul of our sports. Since 2009, the FEI has recognized your brilliance in the annual FEI Awards. However, now is the time for your voice to be heard. Please join us, so we can represent you all,” Katan said. 

More information from the FEI can be found via this link. 

 


Grooms from all over the world can now become an IGA member through the Association’s official website: https://internationalgrooms.org/.


 



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