A National Trainers Federation survey conducted in 2015 suggested that there was shortage of at least 500 stable staff in the racing industry. As the crisis continues, we take a look at what keeps our dedicated stable staff committed to working long hours in all weathers rather than seeking the comfort of a cosy office job?
Passion for Racing
The role of a stable lad or lass requires skill and passion and those who dedicate their working life to a career in racing do it out of love for the industry and of course the horses. Stable staff develop a strong bond with the horses they are responsible for and as a result, travel with them wherever they race. Whilst most horses will only ever race in the UK, a few travel abroad giving some staff the opportunity to see the world.
Rest & rewards
- Whilst weekends off were almost non-existent 20 years ago, most trainers now give stable staff 1 in 3 or even every other weekend off which is greatly appreciated.
- Unlike many other yard based roles in the equestrian industry, stable staff now receive paid overtime and meal expenses for going racing in the evenings.
- With time and persistence, those looking for career progression may have the opportunity to climb the ladder to head lad/ lass or assistant trainer.
- Some trainers have introduced the ‘Stable Lad/ Lass of the Month’ award, announcing the winner on their website, social media pages and in their quarterly magazine sent out to owners. Staff certainly appreciate the recognition and for younger or less experienced members of the team, winning an award is a real confidence boost. As a result, trainers are seeing staff retention rates improving.
- Some trainers produce a staff handbook which includes key information about the daily running of the yard. These can be really helpful particularly for the new and less experienced members of staff.
- The British Horseracing Authority have produced a fact sheet on the Employer Led Training Programme; a pilot scheme aimed at supporting trainers by offering grants of up £2,500 for trainees aged 19 and over.
Have you ever considered a job within the racing industry? Do you already work with a trainer? We'd love to hear from you in the comments below.