Thoroughbred Charities of America has awarded a $3,000 grant to the Groom Elite Program, its first from the Delaware-based charity founded by Herb and Ellen Moelis.Groom Elite is an education outreach program originally started in 1998 by Texas Thoroughbred breeder Susan O'Hara, Texas A&M University Extension Service and the Texas Horsemen's Partnership. Since the first program at Sam Houston Race Park in 2001, Groom Elite has conducted 22 programs at 14 racetracks in 8 states, Canada and South Africa."This is great recognition of our program that started from modest beginnings and has now gone international, said Groom Elite President and founder, Susan O'Hara. " We run this program on a very modest budget with lots of volunteers and local support. The Thoroughbred Charities of America $3,000 grant will help support this summer's classes that have already begun in Virginia, Iowa and Minnesota."The Groom Elite Course consists of six to eight weeks of 2-3 classes per week covering a broad curriculum on equine physiology, nutrition, horse care and welfare, OSHA based work and barn safety, racing rules, personal hygiene, financial responsibility and other skills essential to being a productive, responsible groom. The classes are taught in both Spanish and English, usually with the RTCA Chaplain acting as the translator.At the completion of the course, a comprehensive written examination is conducted in several formats based on language and literacy skills. A hands-on barn test including demonstrating a working knowledge of vital signs, lameness, bandaging and care of the horse is also conducted by a panel of trainers and veterinarians.To date, over 450 grooms have achieved certification as "Elite" grooms. The benefits are self-evident - a more knowledgeable work force, enhanced horse care and welfare, improved barn area safety, increase self-esteem and quality of life for the grooms. Many "Elite" grooms have become barn foreman, assistant trainers; and several have become licensed trainers.