PALM SPRINGS, Calif., March 11 (UPI) -- The financial lines that divide horse riders and owners from their employees were highlighted with the deaths of two grooms in California last month.
The Los Angeles Times reported the deaths of 21-year-old Armando Sanchez-Gallardo and 47-year-old Jorge Rodriguez-Ramirez, who suffocated in their sleep on Feb. 23.
While the incident still is under investigation, initial findings pointed to accidental death caused by a space heater and inadequate ventilation.
The grooms' deaths drew attention to living conditions of stable workers, as horse industry workers have yet to benefit from improved labor, welfare and health laws.
The lack of focus on such workers was acknowledged in comments made by U.S. Equestrian Federation official John Long, who admitted the industry is oriented towards horse safety first.
"There was a time when people involved in racing saw some of the conditions of some of the grooms and valets and said it was time to do something," he told the newspaper, "but the situation is different in the equestrian world."