Groom Clean

Scrolling through social media this week I saw on the horse and hound facebook page that 2 British riders have been stripped of titles after positive dope tests. Dope testing always seems to b a pretty hot topic of conversation across all disciplines. The FEI and other governing bodies such as BSJA, BE, BD do dope testing to help ensure the welfare of horses competing.

So what is a dope test?

The FEI or governing body of the sport can take blood and/or urine samples from any horse competing at any competition. If your horse is chosen for a dope test you will be accompanied by an official to a designated stable with your horse, they will take either a urine or blood sample (sometimes both), not all horses will urinate so if this is the case then a blood sample will be taken. All samples remain anonymous and are identified on a code basis. The samples are then sent off to the lab for testing of any prohibited substances.

What can we do to help prevent positive tests?

Even if you only have 1 horse, its just as important to have good yard biosecurity as a yard of 100 horses. Listed below are som ways in which we can try and ensure this.

• Use separate feed and water buckets for each horse.

• If a horse is receiving medication use a separate feed bucket to normal (if its going in feed), wear disposable gloves when preparing and wash hands after. Wash and store this bucket separately to others.

• Your vet should be familiar with all prohibited substances and know the withdrawal periods.

• Only use feed and supplements form reputable companies companies and that are certified free from any prohibited substances. It’s also a good idea to keep a note of batch numbers.

• Note down in a yard diary or medicines log book if and when any horse has medication.

• Make sure you are familiar with an up to date list of all prohibited substances. The FEI also has an app you can download ‘FEI clean sport’. Using this app you can search any product or ingredient to check its safe to use.

• Be careful if you yourself are taking or prescribed any medicines or cream as cross contamination could easily occur this way.

• If you are a groom or member of the british grooms association make sure you complete the groom clean certificate.

There is lots of information available on the internet and from the FEI and other governing bodies about dope testing so if you are ever unsure there is plenty of information readily available to you.

Planning and preparing for 2018!

Hey guys I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and new year! I am sure that many of you like myself were working or busy looking after your own horses, despite this I hope you managed to spend some time off with family and friends, I know I have definitely eaten far too much!

So I thought I’d kick start the year off with a blog about planning and preparing for the year ahead.

I think being able to plan the year ahead has got easier, I know most organisations now run so efficiently that they know show dates months and sometimes a year in advance, this is certainly true for the more advanced and high profile shows. British dressage for example have a list of all major competition dates available on the website (high profiles, premier leagues, regionals and nationals) and then in the magazine are printed the show dates and venues for the upcoming months.

Its good to invest in a wall planner so you can get a good overview of the year ahead at a quick glance, I’m also a big fan of a family planner calendar, we use this at work and it makes life so much easier as each member of staff has a column and the horses and its so clear to see exactly whose off when and when the horses are booked in for anything, we also write up a daily diary so we know what’s gone on each day and any changes of routine for example feeds, tack, turnout, vets visits, farrier, Physio, dentist, saddler etc and anything of note can be written down and referred back to if needed.

I think it’s a good idea to set out any goals or training plans you have for the year ahead and you can plan which shows you want to do and have it all written on the calendar and/or wall planner, once you’ve got these sorted you can then arrange annual vaccinations, teeth, Physio, saddler and farrier visits around these dates to avoid clashes.

What else can you do to try and get the 2018 off to the best start?

Before we get underway and swept up in the hustle and bustle off another busy season it’s a good time to take stock and check everything is in good working order on the horse box before you need to use it. Iv’e given ours a good Christmas clean and scrub ready to go. If you have separate show kits, brushes, plaiting kit, vet kit, first aid box etc on board then check its all clean and stocked up (hopefully you wont have had to use the vet or first aid kits).

Get your horses reclipped if you haven’t done so already. The later you leave re clipping then you’re at risk of ruining their summer coat as they tend to start coming through around feb/march time. Once you’ve done your last clip get the blades sent off for sharpening and clippers away to be serviced if needed.

Have a good clear out and get rid of anything you no longer use or need. I myself am a massive hoarder and my own ponies have far too many rugs and they definitely cannot wear more than one head collar at a time so my 4/5 spare as ‘just incase’ aren’t really necessary! It’s a good opportunity to make some extra cash, or a nice idea is to take any unwanted items to a local horse sanctuary or charity, they will always be needed and greatly appreciated.

If you are a fellow groom make sure if you haven’t done already get your BGA membership! Brush up on any rule changes for the upcoming season and double check the FEI banned substances list, and if you haven’t done yet do your groom clean certificate with the BGA.

So with that best of luck to everyone for 2018! I’m very much looking forward to a busy season and seeing what the year ahead has in store.

Spring has sprung 

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So it finally feels like winter is behind us and Spring is firmly on the way!

This is one of my favourite times of the year, seeing all of the flowers starting to shoot up, the weather is getting better and the temperature warmer. It makes me feel very priveliged to have my job when I get to go hacking through the beautiful bluebell woods and can see the little shoots starting to come up with the sun shining through the trees, and knowing that summer is on the way. We have the first of our chicks at home a little Bantam, it’s very very cute. The snow drops are out and the grass is starting to grow again.

However that said I’m not packing the thermals away just yet, After all this is England it could be snowing again next month!

Time to get yet more of my lists together ready for spring cleaning around the yard and checking stock to make sure we’re ready for a full on show season.

With the evenings now drawing out as well it means I can dust off my trainers and get out running again to make sure I’m in good shape ready for the season. Although having a  physical job keeps me fit to some degree, I believe that it’s still important to do other exercise to make sure I am in peek physical fitness and am able to do the job to the best of my ability. I try and eat a bit healthier as well it makes a huge difference to my energy levels, don’t get me wrong I love a Mc Donald’s, chocolate and wine as much as the next person but making sure I eat right when I can is important.

I hope your all as excited as I am at the prospect of Spring and summer on the way!

Kate xx

My top tips for new grooms

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Below are some tips I wanted to share for anyone new to the industry or thinking of becoming a part of it, and who knows maybe some of you who are already grooms or don’t even work with horses will take something from it. These are just some of the things that I have learned along the way and think are quite important aspects in the role as a groom.

Punctuality – Always be on time or better be early. If you start work at 7am be ready to actually start working at 7am. Obviously sometimes there are circumstances beyond our control which make us run late, just don’t make a habit of it.

Be indispensable – Be that person that your boss can’t live without. Go above and beyond. There are so many people in the industry who are very replaceable, don’t be just another groom, aim to be the best!

Listen – Become a sponge and absorb any information you hear. Even if it’s not particularly relevant to you at the time, you never know when it will be.

Ask – Ask questions, it doesn’t matter if you think it’s a silly question or irrelevant, there is no such thing as a silly question. Just don’t ask the same one 50 times over! Ask how employers like things to be done, every yard does things slightly differently so better to ask than assume.

There is always something to do – Even if you think you have done everything, I can guarantee there is always more to do. If you have a spare 1\2 hour or hour pick up a broom and de cobweb, go poo picking, or ask another member of staff what there is to do if you are unsure.

Common sense – If you see a poo in the middle of the yard, pick it up. Or if the temperature changes throughout the day and the horse’s rugs haven’t been changed check it isn’t too hot or cold.

Attention to detail – If you notice something Is broken then tell someone. When you groom a horse check it from head to tail and notice if anything is unusual, lumps, bumps etc. get to know the horses in your care and know what are normal habits for them. When you tack up a horse take pride in its appearance, don’t present to a rider with mud on it and shavings in its mane and tail.

Take advantage – Take advantage of every opportunity you are given, ride every horse you are offered. The best riders in the world haven’t become the riders they are today by just riding easy and readymade horses. Sit on the naughty and sharp horses, trust me it will make you more determined to become a better rider and earn the privilege to ride nice horses. If you get the opportunity to watch training and different people teach then do, you will learn so much by just watching and listening.

Be grateful – It’s all well and good taking advantage of the opportunities, but make sure you appreciate them, say thank you! The top riders and trainers haven’t got to where they are without having to do the hard graft as well. So don’t think that you are better than anyone else or deserve more, everyone has to start somewhere.

Be organised– Pick things up and tidy as you go, put things away in the right places. I’m a big fan of a list, I have them for pretty much everything. If you’ve got it written down, then hopefully you won’t forget.

Communicate – Good communication is key to helping a yard run smoothly. Make sure everyone knows the plan, if something changes for instance feeds, supplements, rugs or if you notice something is wrong then make sure everyone knows. That way no one can turn around and say no one told me or get it wrong.

Team work – This is an important part of any yard. There is no I in team! Become part of the team and include yourself.

Appearance – It is important to take pride in your appearance, it also looks more professional if you dress smartly rather than looking like you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards, trust me I know this is sometimes easier said than done with horses.

Be professional – Smile, be calm and helpful even if you’re having a bad day and just want to scream.

Stay calm – There are always situations where things don’t go to plan, but the most important thing is to stay calm, if you panic or get worked up the horses will sense this and then themselves get worked up or panic. Keep calm and carry on!

Kate xx

Team work makes the dream work!

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What a brilliant weekend away training. The horses were super and 2017 is looking like it’s going to be a very exciting season!

I always take so much pleasure from watching the horses train and seeing how they progress and develop along the way.
It really does make my job so rewarding being able to work with such special horses and within such a great team.
I think team work is so important for the industry and I don’t think there are any riders out there who would dispute this. The grooms behind the scenes play such an important role in keeping everything running smoothly and the horses looking and feeling well. This then allows the riders to concentrate on the riding and doing what they do best. So don’t ever feel like you’re not important because you are in fact one of the most important people behind a successful rider.

Look out for my next post over the next few days ‘my top tips for new grooms’.

Kate xx

Monday motivation

 

 

 

Being a groom is not an easy job! It is not a Monday – Friday, or 9 – 5, but it is without doubt one of the most rewarding and satisfying. When my alarm goes off early in the morning and its freezing cold and raining outside my motivation quickly diminishes, but I wouldn’t change my job for any other. There have been times when I very nearly gave up working with horses, but I am glad I didn’t. All of the tough times probably more so than the good, have made me the person and groom I am today.

 

I just wanted to share with you a few little quotes that I like and that have helped me along the way when I’ve ever considered giving up. Never forget that there are other people who know how tough it is and what you’re going through so talk to them about it to.

 

 

 

kate xx

Location, location, location

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One of the great things about being a groom is that you can travel all over the world! I am lucky with my job that it involves a lot of travel to various shows across England and Europe, and I am able to live at home and it only takes me 3 minutes to get to work.

However, if a show groom isn’t for you but you want to work in a different country, then there are plenty of jobs all over the world in every discipline.

 

Before you go jetting off across the country or even the world there are a few things to consider;

  • The climate/weather, will you be happy in extreme heat or cold? Or would you prefer a more moderate climate?
  • Distance from home. Will you get home sick? How often will you be able to visit home?
  • Do you know the language? Sometimes it can create a barrier if you do not speak the language and could make you feel isolated or lonely.
  • Do you know anyone? It is not a bad thing if you don’t, it’s always great to meet new people but it could make a big change easier if you already know people there, even if not at work but in the area.
  • Location. Where is it based countryside/town, and how easy is it to get to civilization if it is in the countryside?
  • Salary. What is the pay and does the job come with accommodation and bills, if not will the salary be enough to be able to rent somewhere?
  • Accommodation. Does the job provide any, if not where is the nearest, most affordable?
  • Accessibility. If you do not live on site will you have access to a vehicle to get to work and to local amenities?
  • Do you need a visa? If so how easy is it to get one and long does it take?
  • Discipline. What discipline do you want to work in? is it seasonal? for example polo and hunting. when is the best time to go and what’s the best country for that discipline?

 

So you’ve decided what discipline you want to work within, next is where or what country is it popular in? below is a list of examples of places that certain disciplines are particularly popular.

  • Polo – England, Dubai, New Zealand, Argentina, Australia, America, Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Iran, India, Mexico, Spain, Switzerland
  • Racing – there are so many countries in which this is such a big industry but here are few of the most popular. England, Dubai, America, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, France, Italy, Ireland.
  • Dressage – Again there are so many countries where this is such a popular discipline. England, Ireland, Spain, France, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Finland, Norway, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, America, Canada.
  • Show jumping – The same as dressage is very popular across the globe in nearly every continent, the list is endless.
  • Eventing – England, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, America, France, Germany, Italy.
  • Hunting – England, Ireland, America, New Zealand, Canada, France.

 

I advise that once you’ve decided where and in what discipline you want to work that you do your research. Speak to as many people as possible about the place you want to work, you can never have too much information!

Looking online as well is a really good resource, there are several good websites specifically designated to working abroad with horses. Look at forums, post on them and ask about people’s experiences.

Below are a few websites that are worth a look if you’re considering working abroad or at home with horses.

 

 

Kate xx

so you want to be a groom?

image.jpegThis was an easy decision for me, I knew from about the age of 15 that I wanted to be a groom and work with competition horses. Being a groom isn’t always easy but its definitely I think one of the most rewarding jobs!

So how do you become a groom?
There are a few different avenues you can explore on your journey to becoming a groom. The path I took was working evenings, weekends and holidays at a competition yard, alongside this I went to college and did a National Diploma in Equestrian Management and some of my BHS exams.
There are so many great courses available at colleges nowadays to gain recognised qualifications, they offer both classroom based learning and practical hands on experience, from part time to full time. There are so many good colleges with brilliant facilities available. I will give you a list of a few of them and some links at the bottom of the page.
However just because you complete a college course does not make you the next Alan Davies! He and all of the grooms in the industry have got to where they are through hard work, passion and determination. Yes, it’s great to go to college and gain a qualification but practical experience is also very important! My advice would be if you go to college to try and gain as much work experience in different yards handling different horses as much as possible, this will also help you to find which discipline you want to work within. Not everyone wants to be a competition groom, you might want to work in a riding school, livery yard, racing, show jumping, eventing, dressage, polo, driving a vets or setup your own yard. It will also look better on your CV; I can guarantee practical experience sways future employers a great deal.

What if college isn’t for you?
There are other ways, a lot of top riders and yards offer apprenticeship or working pupil positions, this is a great way to gain valuable experience while working in top yards and getting paid to do so, sometimes they offer the chance to gain your BHS qualifications alongside. The British Groom’s Association is a great resource to get information on this. I highly recommend any groom to join the BGA, for a small monthly fee you can get personal accident insurance and loads of great discounts, there are also forums and helpful information pages for any questions you might have about the industry.

So if you have the passion and determination to become part of such a rewarding industry then take a look at some of the links and websites below.

Colleges
• Writtle http://writtle.ac.uk
• Hartpury http://www.hartpury.ac.uk/
• College of West Anglia (CWA) http://www.cwa.ac.uk/
• Oaklands https://www.oaklands.ac.uk/
• Myerscough http://www.myerscough.ac.uk/
• Sparsholt https://www.sparsholt.ac.uk/

Associations
• British groom’s association (BGA) https://britishgrooms.org.uk/
• British horse society (BHS) http://www.bhs.org.uk/

Jobs
• Equine elite recruitment http://www.equineeliterecruitment.com/
• Career grooms http://careergrooms.co.uk/
• Yard and groom https://www.yardandgroom.com/
• Horse and hound http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/
• Equine careers http://www.equine-careers.co.uk/
• Careers in racing http://www.careersinracing.com/
• Facebook, look on pages dedicated to groom’s jobs

Kate xx

First blog post

Hi guys,

My first post how scary! So the main reason I wanted to do this blog is to share my experiences and knowledge of my journey to becoming the groom I am today.

I started my journey as a groom aged 13, working weekends and evenings at a competition yard near me.
From school I went to writtle college to complete a national diploma in equine management, whilst still working at the competition yard. When I left college I became head girl at that yard.
I moved to reading for a year when I was 19/20 and worked at a private dressage yard, I loved this.
When I returned home I went back to work where I had before until 2012 when I left to volunteer at the Paralympics for a month.
From here I started my role as equine technician at the RVC, I worked there for about 18 months. This was great, I learned so much about the equine veterinary world, which has expanded my knowledge immensely.
This takes us to where I am today, head girl and competition groom for an international dressage rider.

Thanks for taking a look at my blog, keep a look out for my next post soon 😊

Kate xx