Following a job post I advertised recently, a post appeared on an eventing facebook page querying whether £350 was a sufficient weekly wage for a head groom, and I know that it was my post that triggered the post as the writer contacted me before posting it. And although I rarely comment on this sort of post I felt that this one merited some comment.
What I found fascinating was the ‘it is not enough’ cries. When you break it down- to £63 a day it doesn’t sound like much, but what must be taken into account is that that money is for you……… food, car and saving. No bills to pay, no electricity, gas, council tax………. my direct debit obligation every month is eye watering for the bills on our house – and I can quite categorically say I would be delighted to have that much left at the end of each week to spend on me!!!! But this particular job is a very special one, and not every employer is as generous as this one.
I then began to think about other vocations – what do other jobs pay? what hours do you have to put in? what are the perks? And the fact is equestrianism is not alone with its pay crisis, in every sphere of employment there are those who will exploit those who can be exploited, and sad though it may be, earning a crust is very hard work. Long hours are not unique to equestrianism. We are not alone in early starts and late nights. What is not acceptable is exploitation, and we must all strive, as employees and employers not to allow that to happen.
But there are without doubt some grooms misguided with their career path and how it should develop. It saddens me to say, that when you first leave college and start work you cannot expect top dollar, you will have to prove that you are capable, reliable and conscientious and only then you can expect to be rewarded for your endeavours, but by the same token, you should be paid fairly and legally for the hours you work. So many grooms have their own horse in tow and expect its keep, training and competition opportunities to be included in their package. I wonder at the logic of those who apply for jobs, who tell me they will do their own horse/s before, during or after work -when the job they are applying for is a full time, they then wonder why they are exhausted!
The success of the equestrianism as a leisure industry has, in my view, impacted the grooming industry enormously. A few years ago, if little Lizzie wanted to ride a pony, she went to the local riding school and mucked out in return for a ride, which lead on to working in the holidays and then after school, a job and more responsibility; she started at the bottom and worked her way up. Now, little Lizzies parents get her a pony, keep it either in an electric fenced patch of the entrepreneurial farmers field, or at the local DIY stables. She grows up having a pony and subsequently a horse, she goes to college or university and after graduating begins looking for the dream job; working a 5 day week, keeping her horse and show jumping or eventing every week-end, when her employer would really like her to be at work! The industry can only stand as much as its benefactor; the owner – every single one of us relies upon the owner, their satisfaction and enjoyment of their hobby – the horse. Be it racehorse, eventer, polo pony, or show jumper, the owners happiness radiates to the workers far down the chain, and so much depends on the job that the groom at does at home. Whether you work on a huge racing yard or a tiny yard- if you do a good job, the horse looks well and performs well, the owner is happy and so it goes on!.
So I implore you, focus on your career, be a good groom, be dedicated and devoted to your horses. You will earn more in satisfaction than you would believe, as well as the respect of your employer and consequently the pay packet that all these factors dictate. If you are looking for a career with horses and are not sure where to start email Clare for an insight into your options to launch your career as a top groom and free advice on how to achieve your potential. [email protected]