As a freelance groom you are basically selling your skills every week, and your bosses will remember you and recommend you to their friends–or not–according to your work. So always be aware that you are your biggest advertising. Your stables, your horses, your outlook are all important every moment. Attention to detail will hopefully impress your current boss and any future ones who see you working.
Do the Best Job
If you are just starting out, try to do the best job you can. Follow instructions. Be prompt, professional and positive. Be a good team member and add value to their team. Try to keep up with the pace of work, and fit in with their schedule. The more days you work together with the team, the more you will synchronize. The first few days are always awkward with not knowing horses names, and the different tack used can be difficult to remember. Take notes or ask for chores to be listed on the board.
The more stables you work in, the more you will learn, but you will never know everything and 44 years later I’m still learning. Basically, the more experience you have, the more you realize the little you know! Some new grooms think they know everything, and I can tell you they don’t. I’ve probably forgotten more than they know, but I’m still open to learn–and new employers like that.
Respectful Working Experience
One very famous five-star rider once said to me, “Alison, I know you are super experienced and have done this your whole life, but I’m going to show you how I want things done.” That 10 minutes of showing me how he likes things was the basis of a very good and respectful working experience that has led to a lifelong friendship and admiration on both sides. So take 10 minutes to ask how to do certain things.
For me, I like it if my rider checks the bridle before they get on and also to see the boots being put on–or do the boots themselves as we all have different ways of doing things. So even after all these years, I still am humble enough to ask and step back to watch how they like it done. A good place to learn new skills is YouTube with great how-to videos on plaiting (or braiding in the U.S.) and training horses, and the FEI has a great section on horsemanship with a grooming section. Also, in regards to the FEI, be sure to keep reviewing and staying up to date with their rules if you are grooming internationally. The rules are ever evolving, and you want to make sure you are following them completely.
Feature photo courtesy of Kind Media LLC.
I’m absolutely delighted to be contributing to HorseGrooms and be part of their team.
I’ve been grooming horses up to the five-star and Olympic level for over 40 years, so I guess I’m a veteran with lots of experience taking care of countless horses worldwide. In 2013, I started Show Grooms International Ltd. as a specialist equine recruitment company with the goals of pairing top stables with the best grooms and filling any other ancillary positions. Since, it has amassed a collection of distinguished clients and incredible job opportunities across the world.
When I started grooming at age 14, I read old stable management books full of know-how from the 19th century! Whilst technology has changed vastly in 200 years, horses haven’t–and really their basic needs are the same.
HorseGrooms gives everyone, including me, a chance to learn, share and inspire with diverse topics. I’m definitely looking forward to being part of a new age platform sharing ancient and modern ideas.