“In all honesty, I was struggling with what to write for the first instalment. I’m sure, like everyone else, the news in any form can cause peaks and troughs in your mood. As a result I thought I would write a true representation of what I am feeling in the blog instead of trying to write something falsely positive – as anyone who knows me will know I have no poker face and you can easily read my mood at a glance!
So we are just heading in to the beginning of a new eventing season. The team feel like they have just gotten over the steep hill that winter makes us climb in which any groom can vouch is a hard time to work with horses. You constantly battle against the weather, start the day in the dark to finish in the dark and are surrounded by very fresh horses. The first few events always feel very exciting as I get to go out and do what I love. I can catch up with other grooms and riders (socially distanced of course) and am reminded how much I love plaiting and also reminded how much I hate cleaning out stud holes!
We are very fortunate to have already started our season with the ‘elite’ events, however, at the risk of sounding ungrateful the news that Badminton and Bramham would not be running this year was a huge blow. Although entirely understandable in the current climate, losing these types of major goals to aim for really does have a negative impact psychologically. The preparation for these events can start as early as November when you start the walk work, to which every next step of progression is methodically thought out and considered.
I was deciding whether or not to write about the Badminton cancellation but felt it was important to address. Many riders will say riding/winning at a 5* is the pinnacle of our sport and it is for grooms too! For the last few months I have woken up at 5:30 everyday, felt the horses legs methodically, analysed their weight and health, made a nutrition plan for them, fitted tack as their shape has changed with fitness and have had discussions with Izzy every single day about each horse in which we address if they are firstly happy and healthy and secondly on track for their goal.
I have watched the horses be trotted up every week with our vet, farrier and physio and discussed how they are performing. Every detail has been thought through every day. This is done because I love my job and my horses. However this is also done because I have pride in my work and want to also be as competitive as the rider. That’s why we need goals to aim for like Badminton and it is important that grooms are also considered to be career driven as well as anyone else. We also have short and long term goals. We also want to be better at what we do. I too have aspects of my job that I want to be better at.
Additionally, if you ask a groom which event is their favourite I would put money on them saying events such as Badminton will definitely be one of them. That is because these events truly embrace grooms as part of the success. It feels like you are actually recognised as playing a part in getting that horse to that event. Also, any form of free tea, coffee or food can go a very long way in our books!
It is for these reasons I purposely did not want to write a blog which was just a list of what I do on the yard or what products I like to use as I feel that grooms are much more than that. In addition, if blogs/articles of this nature continue then grooms voices would always be in the background and never fully heard. We are career driven and we want to be recognised as such. I would argue that it is not just the role of the employer for this. Events and organisers should be doing more for grooms: prizes for grooms should be worth winning and the industry considered to be one high skill rather than labour (all to be discussed in depth in future!).”
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