Veteran groom encourages recognition for work

By: Horse Deals

Veteran groom encourages recognition for work
Veteran groom encourages recognition for work

FEI Best Groom Award 2011 winner Alice Gaillard believes there are many grooms who deserve to be nominated for their work behind the scenes and have the chance to enjoy what she remembers as "a dream experience" at the FEI Awards ceremony, which will take place in Istanbul later this year.

The 76-year-old has groomed at the French Equestrian Federation-accredited centre L’Etrier de Bourgogne in Dijon, France for five decades, an activity that, for many years, she juggled with her job as a mechanic at a mustard factory.

Her reputed gift with horses led her to work for eventing rider Marie-Christine Duroy at the Olympic Games in 1988, 1992 and 1996, as well as for Jean Teulère at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in 2002.

"I didn’t know that people could win awards for doing what they love," said Alice. "Owners and riders should show they realise that their grooms willingly make sacrifices out of their love for horses and nominate them for the FEI Best Groom Award."

Alice still grooms nearly every day and is the last person to leave the equestrian centre at the end of the day."I never want to go home until I’ve gone round the stables a last time to make sure all the horses are well," she said. "I just wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t do that and I know there are a lot of young grooms who feel the same."

Alice says she has seen conditions for grooms improve considerably over the years. "Riders have a lot more respect for their grooms now and look after their well-being," she said."When they have good grooms, they want to keep them.

"You can’t imagine how much it meant to me, at my age, to travel to Rio de Janeiro for the award and be pampered," she said. "Everyone was very kind to me - it was a wonderful experience."

This year’s nominations in five categories – Best Groom, against All Odds, HSBC Rising Star, Development and Reem Acra Best Athlete – are open to the equestrian community worldwide. Winners will be chosen by a jury of international experts chaired by FEI president HRH Princess Haya. The deadline for nominations is 31 July 2012.


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