Conversations have circulated online following sharing of images of the grooms’ accommodations at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games, which included tents. Following the public outcry, co-founder and CEO of Tryon International Equestrian Center, Mark Bellissimo released the following statement.
I made a personal commitment to housing grooms on site, and I underestimated the demand. I was too optimistic. I made a mistake, and I apologize. We are doing everything we can to rectify the situation.
Our organization has always been committed to recognizing the importance of grooms. They are a critical component to the success and well-being of these equine athletes, and we have the utmost respect for their daily work. We introduced an award three years ago across all our venues recognizing and honoring grooms during the prize giving ceremony supported by a monetary price, and we plan to do the same here at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games.
Without our grooms there would be no equestrian sport. You have my word that we will resolve all issues related to the grooms’ accommodations.
We at TIEC, and the FEI, have enormous respect for the grooms, and the vital work that they do. It is our greatest commitment to ensure the safety and well-being of the horses competing and the individuals who are responsible for their care.
Unfortunately, our plan for all grooms’ accommodations to be on-site could not meet the demand, but our team is working proactively and around the clock to improve the situation and ensure that all accommodations and personal needs are met.
We have multiple options available and are offering on-site residential vehicles, two-bed cabins with toilet and shower, and off-site accommodations at Rumbling Bald Resort, 35 minutes away with multiple daily shuttles provided.
We were asked by the national federations to provide more on-site options and explored providing, as a very temporary solution, air-conditioned dormitory tents with showers and bathrooms provided close by until more RVs and cabins are available. However, this option has clearly not met our stringent standards. We are aware that this is not viable in the long-term and are urgently seeking alternatives.
We are also offering financial compensation to national federations for any accommodations secured off site, and many national federations have chosen this option.
In addition, there is an on-site grooms’ lounge where they can relax in a comfortable environment.
The national federations and the FEI are working extremely closely with our team to ensure that our grooms are treated with the respect they deserve and given the opportunity to choose and environment that suits them and their horses best.