Employers, Employees and Common sense

Employers, Employees and Common sense

We - the backbone of the workforce within the equine industry - have an extremely rewarding but often strenuous job. The hours are long; the work is inevitably physical and sometimes, unfortunately, horses can be unyielding and problematic. Our lives are devoted to animals, which generally aren’t even our own. Our waking hours are filled with keeping our equines in top prime condition, healthy and happy to compete in the respective fields - no pun intended!

However, what happens when you think this dream has become a reality and it all comes crashing down?
When you have worked to become the top of your game and it doesn’t go to plan?
When you strive for absolute perfection to be told, it’s not going to happen.

Equestrian work places are a fascinating mix of people and cultures; who each bring their own unique expertise and experience. They can be a hive of activity and learning with usually a few giggles thrown in. Unfortunately, over the past number of weeks on my travels, I have been told copious incidents from behind the scenes of quite a few yards. A number of amazing stories, but some have left me feeling bewildered about where our equine economy is headed. If we can not value our staff members, then we will lose them. It is just that simple.

Unfair treatment of staff can take many forms, including discrimination based on race, gender, age, religion, or other personal characteristics; unequal pay or promotion opportunities; excessive workloads; unreasonable expectations; lack of support or recognition; or harassment. Such treatment can have serious impacts on the well-being, morale, and job satisfaction of employees, and can contribute to a toxic work environment. It is important for employers to create a workplace culture that values and respects all employees, and to address any instances of unfair treatment promptly and effectively. It is equally important for employees to respect and endeavour to do the best for their employers.

How does this translate to equine premises and what happens when situations arise that become toxic within the working environment?

In my opinion, not every person is suited to every yard - regardless, respect should be paramount. Each yard generally has a ‘Head Person’ - be that a person appointed by the employer or the employed themselves. This person generally has good communication skills and should be open and honest with all the staff. If a situation becomes daunting, regardless of who is responsible, there must be possibilities available.

Appropriate training in the area in which you are working should always be offered and fulfilled by the employer.

What is deemed as appropriate training within a yard situation? This is very dependent on the type of horses you are working with and previous experience. I believe that there is a range of tasks within equine work, some more difficult than others, which necessitate hands-on knowledge. Even so, provision of appropriate instruction is necessary should the employee display both enthusiasm and aptness.

I am no expert by any means in employee law - far from it. However, common sense seems to dictate that if there is open communication, respect and honesty, it would make the workplace an easier place. Employee law and the workplace can be a tricky topic to navigate. It's important for employers and employees alike to understand their rights and responsibilities in order to create an effective working relationship.

One of the most important aspects of employee law is open communication between employers and employees. This means that both parties need to communicate their expectations, needs, concerns, and ideas in an honest manner.

When there is open communication between employer and employee, it creates an atmosphere where both parties can work together more.

Equitas is a platform for women in the equine industry to inspire, motivate, educate and support - but what happens if employers and employees equally are not striving to empower themselves?  I certainly hope that the current situations that are happening across the country will become extinct in the coming years. Respect is needed for all.

Muireann O Toole Brennan

Muireann O Toole Brennan

Head of Media and co founder at Equitas. I currently have four horses and compete three. 2024 is going to be a big season!
Carlow, Ireland