BY GRACE SALMON
Grooming gives you the opportunity to travel and experience shows that you might not get the opportunity to show at yourself. Think you have what it takes to groom at horse shows? Check out these 10 tips and tricks that help you along the way.
Don’t be afraid if you don’t know how to do something. How else are you ever going to learn anything? Encountering and overcoming the unknown is the best way to figure out how to do things well. If you come across a problem that you don’t know the solution to consult your common sense, do a quick google search, or ask the trainer you are working for how they would like it done. But make sure you are doing what you can to figure things out on your own. The horse show is a busy place — don’t waste anyone’s time.
Don’t be afraid to mess up. I’m going to tell you something that you probably don’t want to hear: you are going to make mistakes. What’s important is learning from them. Do better. Don’t make those mistakes again.
Be passionate about the work that you are doing. You are not going to do your best work if you don’t care about what you’re doing. You have to be willing to put your heart and soul into everything you do, because that is what it takes to be a successful groom.
Be thorough. Don’t slack off. People are depending on you, whether that is getting all of the green spots out of the grey pony or getting all of the shavings out of the tail – make sure you get it done! This isn’t the time to let things slide. Always be doing something. If you think you don’t have anything to do, find something. Start wrapping polo wraps, clean stalls, or sweep up. You should never be standing around. There is always something that needs to be done.
Take care of yourself. Make sure you take opportunities to eat or use the restroom when you find the time, because time won’t always be available. Wear sunscreen and dress appropriately to avoid sunburns. It is essential to take care of yourself so that you are able to take the best care of the horses you are in charge of.
Have fun. Remember, you are doing this because you enjoy it. The minute you stop having fun and stop enjoying the work you are doing, it is time to go home. This is an opportunity to see and experience things you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. Enjoy and embrace it!
Be mindful. Keep in mind that naturally, horse shows come with stress. Give clients and trainers the benefit of the doubt when bad days happen. Focus on your job, and everything will work out.
Know the horses you are working with. Know their personalities. Know what they are like on the ground, in their stall, and walking up to the ring. Know what their legs normally look like. You are in charge of their well being, and by knowing them inside and out, you can spot when something might not be right. You’ll know what is going on inside their bodies and their minds even before they do.
Be respectful. If you’re just coming in and working for the week, respect those who groom for the barn regularly. Take it as an opportunity to learn from someone that has new knowledge to offer.
Bring your work ethic. When in doubt, your hard work will play out. Don’t skip the small details and don’t get lazy. Having a good work ethic is the most vital part of being the best show groom you can be.
Hard work will get you far when it comes to being a horse show groom. Make sure you are enjoying the work that you are doing, paying attention to details, and taking care of your self and you’ll be good to go!
Grace Salmon is a sophomore at the University of Tennessee at Martin majoring in Communications. She is on UTM’s NCAA Division 1 Equestrian Team. She has groomed for Stonewall Farm as well as attended the Emerging Athletes Program. She competes on the A Circuit with her young horse on the West Coast.