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Never Think You’re Beyond Learning

For freelance grooms, your work is your advertising, and Alison McIvor advises to remember that as you gain experience in her second installment of “The HorseGrooms’ Guide to Freelancing.”

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. 

Keep Learning

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. 

“Attention to detail will hopefully impress your current boss and any future ones who see you working,” said Alison McIvor. Photo courtesy of DigiShots.

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. 

Stay Humble

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.

October 8, 2023

Alison McIvor 🇮🇪

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