For grooms and riders alike it is time; for early mornings, late finishes and the immense pride that comes with working as part of a team that soon becomes your family.
The M.S.Team Eventing grooms bring together their ten top tips for ensuring that we are all prepped for the first event of the season.
Packing & Checking
Firstly, pack and check the lorry. This may seem like a simple task but we have all forgotten a piece of tack or lunging equipment, even the pros!
During the winter cross country boots, ice boots and wraps all may have gotten slightly dusty so make sure they are back in the lorry, washed and in working order.
Bandages and pads will also be needed after the horse has finished cross country or in case of any injury that may occur. On that note also check there is a first aid kit, for horses but also for the humans – grooms that get a bit carried away with the studs!
Practice your plaiting. New grooms should be trained on how to plait to a high standard, whether that’s banding or threading. Use the weeks before the first event to check all the plaiting equipment is still there. If anything has strangely disappeared and can’t be found in a groom’s pocket or the dogs bed then it should be replaced.
A bit more checking
Top tip number three – the stud kit should also be checked. This should include a pick cleaning tool, a magnetic stud tray, a stud tap, a spanner, cotton wool and most importantly the studs. There should be studs for all weather conditions.
A shoeing plan should also be spoken about to ensure that the farrier knows which horses are needing stud holes and by which dates. As a groom, you need to consider that the horses may be needing studs a while before their first event, as they may be going to get some cross-country practice!
Planning fitness work. Each horse will need to be at a different stage of fitness, depending on their level within the sport. Help your rider confirm a plan for the horses and discuss which grooms can assist riding which horse. For any grooms, new to the eventing world, cantering horses for interval work for minutes on end may not be as fun as it sounds. However, it will help with your core fitness so both you and the horses will have the perfect summer body!
Have a game plan. The season can be a stressful time and to make the events and the daily running of the yard easier, plan with the whole team. Each groom should have a role, who’s going to ride the cheeky five year olds, while the boss is at the competition with the more experienced horses? Who’s going to groom at the events and who’s going to stay at home and look after the other 15 horses? For the home grooms, horses like to injure themselves in the field while the boss is away, so get the vet, farrier and physio’s number (just in case)!
Grooms will have a varying degree of responsibility but it is important that we all do our job to the best of our ability.
The hairier residents of the yard may need to be clipped before their first event, so they look smart and do not get too warm. Ideally it is best to clip 1-2 weeks before their event, this leave enough time for them to have acclimatised to the weather so shouldn’t give out too many fresh bucks in public!
Make sure that the clippers are then serviced ready for autumn, and the blades are sharpened.
Feeding & Nutrition
The horses should be in tip top condition and be on the correct feed for the work load they are in. Set a date to get the horses weighed and for feed to be discussed. With the season approaching it is important that each horse gets the right nutrition so they can perform to the best of their ability.
During the season, any horse could pick up an injury requiring medication prescribed by the vet. It is crucial that this medication is stored in a locked cupboard to minimise any chance of contamination.
A bit more checking
At M.S.Team Eventing we have a yard of 19 horses in full time work and the majority of these will be competing through the season, so it is important to know the tack needed for each horse.
A good way for everyone in the team to know what needs to be packed for each event, is to put up a board in the tack room. The board can give information on what tack and boots each horse needs.
We love a white board
A white board at the event is tip number eight. This can be used to give the times for each discipline and what time the rider wants to be on each horse. It’s a great way to keep organised. The times for dressage, show jumping and cross-country should also be given to all members of the team. If you’re a home groom you don’t want to be calling just as the rider begins their dressage test!
Look after your rider
A groom’s job is primarily to look after the horses but it is always look after the boss as well. Pack your rider some drinks and snacks for on the day. It can be a very long day, you and your rider will need to stay hydrated to keep up the concentration levels. Its’s a dangerous sport, staying focused is incredibly important.
Relax & Enjoy
The most important tip – take time to relax before the season starts, or in our case throw a pre-season party and enjoy spending time with the horse’s owners, home team and your crazy colleagues, on a social level before the hard work really starts.
If you use these top tips to guide you and continue to work as a team, the start of the season should be relatively stress free. Everyone at M.S.Team Eventing is excited for a busy, jam packed season and we hope you are too.