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19 February 2021

Management Support Service in Action – a huge benefit to our industry.

We have asked staff from across the racing industry to explore some of the services on offer through Racing’s Support Line which is now delivered in partnership with Care first. In part three of the series, industry employee Lucy Baker is relieved to find some help from the Management Support Service…

I don’t know about you, but I often find understanding horses can be a lot simpler than understanding people.  Certainly, when I came into the racing industry it was because of my love of horses and my passion for racing, not because of my outstanding people skills.  However, from my very first job in the industry as a junior member of stable staff straight out of the racing school I knew I had joined a fantastic community.

Throughout my time in the industry, I have worked for a couple of brilliant trainers and with the widest range of characters you could ever wish to meet.  That’s the thing about racing isn’t it? It draws in people from all walks of life.  And now, ten years in, I am lucky enough to be working as a Yard Manager with a brilliant team.

My years of experience with racehorses mean that I am now confident checking legs after a work morning, adjusting feeding regimes and managing the needs of over 50 horses at a time. Learning the skills to manage a team of hardworking stable staff didn’t come quite so easily!

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Over the last couple of weeks, one of my team, Adam, just hasn’t seemed his usual self.  It was hard to put my finger on it but he just wasn’t engaged with the rest of us as he ordinarily would be, not joining in with the general banter or giving feedback on his horses in the way he normally would.

Now, my natural instinct is to think “Oh, come on! Just crack on with it. We are so busy, we just need everyone pulling their weight.” But I know that I wouldn’t have that response if it was one of the horses that was off colour.  So, what next? I am not an expert and felt like I needed some support with this one and this is where the Management Support Service from Racing’s Support Line came in.

I spoke to Joanna, a counsellor with a wealth of experience with situations like this.  I gave her the background and explained that I wasn’t sure of my next steps.  We discussed anything that could be impacting Adam and what I would like the outcome of the situation to be.  Being honest, I know that he is unlikely to want to discuss his personal life with me so Joanna suggested an informal management referral – meaning I could suggest to Adam that I make a call with him to the Support Line and then leave him to get some support in private.

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When I finished my phone call with Joanna I had the confidence to take the next steps.  When I initially spoke to Adam, I said I was worried about him and that I thought a call to the support line might help, but he was understandably reticent.  I reassured him that this is a free service that is there for everyone, that it had benefited me in the past and that he had nothing to lose in giving it a go.

So, after morning stables we sat down together and made the call.  Adam was looking tentative when I closed the door behind me but the trained counsellors on the end of the line can deal with such a wide breadth of issues that I was confident they would be able to help him.  Joanna had reassured me they are all ready for any question that might come their way. The issue that is having an impact on a person’s work-life could be anything from financial worries to a niggling injury and the counsellors can provide support whatever the issue.

I don’t know what Adam spoke about on his call or what his plans are, but I do know that over the last few days he has seemed calmer and is slowly starting to seem more like his normal self.  I also know that I feel more confident in managing situations like this going forward and there is almost a sense of relief in knowing there is a support system in place for me and my team.

We are so lucky to have services like this available to us for free in our industry, I can’t believe we don’t shout about it more!

If you work in racing you can call Racing’s Support free of charge Line 24/7 on 0800 6300 443.

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