Is the industry getting tougher or are grooms getting lazier? Is grooming a real career?

So often these days you hear of employers looking for grooms, and saying there are no ‘good grooms’ anymore, or that a ‘good groom’ is hard to find, or that grooms are getting lazier.

So what makes a ‘good groom’? I believe what makes a good groom is someone who is reliable, hard working, dedicated, passionate and professional.

Over the years I have come across and worked with some very good grooms, but sadly have come across probably more that are not. They moan that the work is too hard, they constantly clock watch, spend more time on their phone than actually doing any work, and moan if they have to stay late. Unfortunately being a groom is not a Monday- Friday or 9-5 job, I suggest that if that’s the job you’re looking for then go to Tesco. I’m not saying that all younger grooms are unreliable or lazy, this is not the case at all, a lot are very very good, and I appreciate that until you really try something how do you really know if its what you want to do, so of course people will leave and move on.

So it begs the questions; is this because they are lazy? Are the next generation of grooms coming through miseducated or misinformed about what’s its really like to work in the industry? Do they have unrealistic expectations? Do employers have unrealistic expectations? Is the industry or job as a groom getting tougher?

Personally I don’t think that the industry is getting tougher, but neither is it getting easier. It will always be physically demanding. I believe it is however getting easier in the way of minimum wage, sick pay, proper contracts etc and with dedicated organisations such as the BGA to offer help and advice on aspects of pay, contracts, living and working conditions it is becoming a fairer industry.

A lot of the next generation of the grooms coming into the industry are coming through college and university. I think the courses offered are a good way to gain valuable knowledge and experience and qualifications, however I don’t think they perhaps give the most realistic portrayal of what the industry is actually like.

When I did my college course I was only required to complete two weeks of work experience within a yard. I worked in a busy competition yard alongside college anyway so I knew full well what it was really like to work in the industry, but I think for others who didn’t work on a yard separately this two weeks alone would not give you a proper insight into what it’s really like to be a groom.

I think doing work experience is such a good way to work on different yards and in different disciplines, that way you can hopefully get a really good idea as to which area you want to work in or if being a groom is the right job for you at all. As well as college a lot of apprenticeships and working pupil positions are available at top yards each year, these are a brilliant opportunity to gain on the job experience and qualifications, and who knows what opportunities it may lead to.

So do employers expect too much from grooms? I don’t think so, perhaps there are some that do but on the whole no. The employers, riders, owners all put so much time, money and dedication into the industry so its right that they expect a certain level of care for the horses. I myself always think how would I want my own horses to be looked after and what would I expect and then always strive to do that to the best of my abilities for the horses in my care.

I think that the job of a groom has become more recognised and rewarded in recent years. This fantastic for all grooms out there to have something to aspire toward and to get the recognition that is so deserved. Hopefully it will also help to inspire the younger generation, and encourage more people to want to make a career of being a groom. I think social media has played a huge part in this, its so much easier for people to connect and engage in what’s going on in the industry. The British grooms association work tirelessly to raise the profile of grooms and help to make sure we get the respect we deserve, they also try to help with issues such as contracts, national minimum wage and better working and living conditions.

There are now awards specifically for grooms in the industry such as the Haddon training awards and FEI awards. Other grooms in the industry Alan Davies, Mark Fisher and Jackie Potts to name a few also work hard to help raise awareness of how hard working and dedicated grooms are. It also helps that top riders have become more active in supporting their super grooms on social media.

Although it’s become more of a celebrated and respected career which Is fantastic, I think we need to be aware that it doesn’t become ‘glamourised’ if you like, its important to educate the next generation of grooms on what the job really is like to hopefully help them to become the next award winning groom. We can’t ignore the fact that it is a tough industry to make a career in, its both very physically and mentally demanding. Apprenticeships are a great way to gain on the job knowledge and qualifications, a great groom is worth their weight in gold and to work with one is invaluable if you want a career as a groom. There are now qualifications available specifically for grooms, such as the ‘BHS equine excellence pathway’, they offer courses from stage 1 care which is designed for anyone who enjoys caring for horses and is aspiring to perhaps one day carve a career in the industry (a good starting point in your career), then all the way up to stage 5 stable manager, which is aimed at those wanting to fulfil a more senior management role. These courses not only cover the care of the horses but also cover management, health and safety legislation, grassland maintenance etc so requires extensive knowledge and practical skills.

As well as the brilliant courses available I believe on the job experience is invaluable to making a career out of grooming, it also helps to have a good sense of humour, dedication, passion, ambition and a thick skin!

If you think you’ve got what it takes to turn your passion for horses into a career then as I said above there are many ways into the industry and lots of training available, however if you think you just get to pat the pretty ponies all day and you don’t want to get your nails dirty of horse slobber in your hair then grooming is certainly not for you and I suggest a different career path.

Testing Eqclusive Universal brushes…

Hi guys,

So I was asked by the lovely people at Chiltern and Thames rider magazine if I’d do a tried and tested review for them on the Eqclusive Universal pack of brushes, of course I jumped the chance!

So take a look at the video below to see my first time trying out the brushes, i loved them and can’t wait to see the difference with more use over the next few weeks. So keep your eyes peeled for some more updates of how I get on with them and how the horses coats look. Exciting and thankyou once again to Chiltern and Thames rider magazine for this opportunity and the amazing brushes!

International women’s day

As its international women’s day I thought I’d share with you some women in the equestrian sport past and present who have been an inspiration to me and who I admire.

One women who we cant ignore that shaped history for women everywhere was Emily Davison (although not exactly equestrian), her act on 8th June 1913 when she jumped in front of the queens horse at the Epsom derby changed history for women everywhere.

A pioneer in the field of horse racing in 1970 Diane Crump became the first female jockey in the UK to partner a winner on may 6th 1972. It was th first time female jockeys were allowed to race. Hayley Turner and Lizzie Kelly are among the most successful female jockeys of recent times.

In 1956 Pat Smythe became the first British female showjumper to compete at an olympics. She helped Great Britain too win team bronze. There are so many fantastic female riders in showjumping now a days but a few of my favourites include Ellen Whitaker, Emily Moffit, Laura Renwick to name a few.

Shiela Wilcox was the first British lady event rider to achieve international success when she won team and individual gold medals at the 1957 European championships. Lorna Clarke was also an amazing eventer and completed badminton an amazing 22 times between 1967 and 1989. Other successful female eventer’s include Ginny Elliott who won Burghley 5 times, badminton 3 times and sh also helped secure double olympic bronze and team silver for Britain at the Los Angeles and Seoul olympics. Pippa Funnell was the first rider to win the elusive Rolex grand slam of badminton, Burghley and Kentucky. Some other amazing women in eventing who I admire Mary King, Tina Cook, Nicola Wilson.

Jennie Loriston-Clark is one of the greats from the world of dressage, she rode at 3 Olympic Games. Sh took over the running of Catherston stud in 1966 and is the current chairwoman of British dressage. Charlotte Dujardin has changed the sport of dressage and made history by becoming the most successful british dressage rider, she was triple gold medalist at both London and Rio olympics, European champion, world champion and holds all 3 world records in the sport of dressage.

As well as all the great female riders I have mentioned 2 other women who I admire and have inspired me in the world of horses are Clare Balding and the Queen.

As well as the women of the horse world lets not forget the mares who have helped shape the sport, a few of my favourites from history and today,

• Regret – she was the first filly to win the Kentucky derby in 1914

• Headley Britannia – the little mare with a big heart, she won Burghley in 2006 and was the first mare to do so in 33 years.

• Black caviar – a race horse who was undefeated in 25 races

• Burmese – she was the queens cavalry horse

• Kings temptress – Mary kings mare with whom she won Kentucky on in 2011

• DV stenkjers Nadonna – Gareth Hughes partnered this mare to team silver at the 2014 world equestrian games

• Half moon Delphi – Michael Eilberg’s partner who also helped Great Britain to team silver at WEG 2014

• Atterupgaards Orthilia – Fiona Bigwood’s (now sold) mare with who she rode at the 2016 Rio olympics

As well as riders and horses it’s important that we recognise and celebrate all women involved with the sport around the world. So whether you are a rider, groom, owner, breeder, show organiser, show secretary, judge, support team or just a fan happy international women’s day!

Anti bullying vlog

Hey everyone,

I have done a vlog (link below) to address the issue of bullying within the equestrian industry and horse world. No matter who you are from a happy hacker to an Olympic gold medalist the world of horses is a tough place and no matter who you are someone will have something to say on what you are doing or how you are doing it! As a community we need to try and be nicer to each other it’s tough enough getting through the day without negative comments and bullying. As well as the link to my vlog i have included some other links to go with what i have spoken about in my vlog, and some hashtags to use when posting on social media. So please watch my vlog and take a look at the links and use the hashtags and hopefully as a community we can make the horse world a nicer place to work and enjoy!

#notonmyyard #antibullying #groomsminds

https://youtu.be/mS2kvPZiKzI

https://britishgrooms.org.uk/grooms-minds

https://www.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10155619224973025&id=704578024

https://www.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2027710980578685&id=100000194090247