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Grooms: Integral to Success – Part 1

Horse & Country highlights the importance of the grooming profession in its newly released, “Grooms: Integral to Success,” presented by MARS Equestrian.

By: Amanda Picciotto Feitosa/Jump Media

Not all heroes wear capes, and that is certainly the case for grooms. Simply, a groom is responsible for the care of the horse, but grooming at an elite level requires more skill, commitment and desire. Behind every clear round or impressive score is the groom. Horse & Country (H&C), the leading international equestrian sports network, recently released “Grooms: Integral to Success,” presented by MARS Equestrian, highlighting the importance of the profession. We spoke with top trainer Archie Cox and his longtime Head Groom Carlos Soriano to learn more about what aspects of grooming are most valuable to them.

Archie Cox is an esteemed professional in the hunter/jumper world, having achieved tremendous success both as a rider and trainer. Based at his Brookway Stables in Lake View Terrace, California, Archie has worked alongside head groom Carlos Soriano for more than 28 years. 

What is the most important thing about being a groom?

Cox: There are so many qualities that go into being a top groom or a top manager at any stable. For me, the most important thing is that I have confidence in the welfare and the care of the horses. With Carlos, I have the utmost respect for him, and I have endless confidence in his commitment to the horses’ welfare and their care.

Archie Cox and Carlos Soriano have worked together for over 28 years.

Soriano: To be a groom is important. You have to work all the time, but to be a better groom, you have to love your work.

Can you think of an experience you have had with a horse, at home or at a competition, in which having or being a top groom was especially important?

Cox: At any barn, it’s so important to have confidence in your grooms and your barn manager. In all the time we have been together, Carlos has lunged all the horses. Not only does lunging play a role in preparing the horses for competition, but it’s also a good opportunity to look at the horses and see how they are feeling physically and mentally. I rely on Carlos to notice if a horse wants to turn its head more one way than the other or looks more comfortable in one direction. He also sees when the horse is fresh. We have one horse that, when it’s fresh, it actually won’t go in one direction; it only wants to go one way. I depend on Carlos because he has prevented problems, noticed problems and stayed ahead of problems from what he sees while working with the horses on a daily basis. He knows them inside and out.

Soriano: It is very important to know your horses and know what they need, but it is also important to be available to take care of whatever they might need, especially in the case of an emergency. Sometimes that means taking care of them 24 hours per day, seven days per week. I remember many times finding horses at different hours starting to colic. If you are checking your horses and know them well, you can see the signs that something is not right. In some cases, you can give them medicine and avoid taking the horse to the clinic.

“You have to do it for the love of the horses,” said Carlos Soriano.

Do you have a special tip or piece of advice for someone starting out as a groom?

Cox: The number one thing that sets people apart is how much they care. Working with horses at a top level in any capacity is a lifestyle. It has to be a passion and something you look forward to doing every day. You have to always be learning and always be observing. Those are the things that other professionals can spot in a minute. Is it a hobby, or is it a passion? Is it a job, or is it a passion? Professionals can always recognize passion, and that’s something that everyone wants on their team.

Soriano: The best tip I have for a new groom is to try it for a little while and really see if this should be part of your life. You have to do it for the love of the horses.

To watch the full H&C feature, “Grooms: Integral to Success,” presented by MARS Equestrian, click HERE. Plus, members of the HorseGrooms Community can enjoy 20% off of an H&C+ membership to watch competition livestreams and hundreds of hours of fun horsey programming. Just join the HorseGrooms Community for free here and make sure you get that discount.

April 7, 2024

Horse & Country

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