The right wage?

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. info@premierequestrianrecruitment.com

Don't forget you...………...

The life you have chosen as a top groom, means that you spend practically all of your time (and more often than not, money!) looking after your horse, tending for its every need, and often more beyond!

Henry is not too sure about his new bit of kit!

On the market for horses you can find every manner of grooming and pampering assistance, be it from spray to remove stains to technical brushes that ensure your horses coat is glossy and pristine with minimum effort! Me- I am the marketing mans dream, love a new bit of kit! Last week I purchased a massage machine and it is magic! Henry, obviously, was convinced the first time I strapped it on that it was be some form of medieval torture and much snorting and eye boggling ensued! But even he succumbed to the gentle vibrations, and he rather enjoys his half hour session now. I, of course, having read all the bumph, know that this guarantees us a sub 30 dressage and he will swing over all the show jumps and whizz round the cross country because his body will be messaged to perfection, the fact he still has me to contend with will make no odds- victory is clearly ours! Such is my belief in the marketing...……………..but it keeps the marketing bods in work!

My favourite

But, I digress from the true purpose for writing, we spend so much of our time and hard earned money on our equine companions it is easy to neglect ones self! Whilst I have always been good with hand cream, well reasonably good- only once a day, just before getting in to bed I slap on a good dob of Neutrogena. ( the only one in my eyes that is up to the task on outdoor hands!) I have to confess I have been guilty of serious neglect of my skin in the past, the sudden realisation that actually I was becoming rather wrinkly and weathered looking spurred me in to action to use some of the face creams and moisturisers gathering dust in the box on top of the wardrobe- years of Christmas presents that I just never got round to opening! I am now a morning and night devotee to the face cream - and yes I am still pretty wrinkly, but honestly - not so weathered looking! So ladies- and gents don't neglect your self! Slap on the face cream and the hand cream, keep those wrinkles at bay for as long as you can -then you will be able to glow next to your stunningly polished charge.

Breathable waterproofs
Waterproof jodhpurs

Gone are the days of rubber waterproofs that in even the coldest of weathers made you sweat unbearabley!!.The human kit available these days is stunning compared to 30 years ago. The technical materials alone make the woes of the groom, out in all weathers, so much more comfortable. I see pleas for cures for chilblains on social media; over trousers people - the best you can afford or long johns- (great name) but in essence under trousers - lots on the market, from cheap and cheerful to gold plated! I prefer overtrousers...….. just a personal thing, but with advances in technical materials you can find something to help you look after your self while you look after your equine!

Finally gloves - mucking out gloves have been the best invention-and the come in different colours to prevent me and my daughter rowing over whose is whose!! they are great to work in and with out them I feel like I have got a part of me missing! But they certainly help to reduce the cracked knuckles and the ingrained dirt on your fingers which no amount of scrubbing seems to shift! My favoured riding out gloves of the moment are the florescent seal skin ones bought in the sale, not only are they warm and waterproof they are great for waving to say thank you to passing cars - rather more noticeable that a black glove on a murky day!!

Essentially look after your self as well as you look after your horse, which I think means- if you are looking after your self- you can look after your horse - it is the circle of life! Please enjoy, and as one of my recruits is heard to say ''if you do what you love, you'll never have to work another day'' and if you need any advice on finding your self a TOP JOB check out the vacancies directly on https://premierequestrianrecruitment.com/positions-available/ or call Clare 07714236765

Driving Miss Bridget

Not quite 'driving Miss Daisy'; driving Miss Bridget when she first arrived was no mean feat!

She was a nightmare to load- she is the only horse I have ever had that I have had to get my husband out of bed to help me load for an early morning departure- a brush behind her to push her up the ramp was the only way, and the brush travelled with us where ever we went for a couple of months! She was very particular about where on the lorry she travelled and how the partitions were spaced, and who she was next to, mild hysteria and rocking dramatically from side to side indicted that in no uncertain terms she was in an unsatisfactory travelling position. And if we had to drive close to trees or a hedge and the offending greenery scrawked the lorry sides - all hell would break loose- usually resulting in snapped partitions or something equally expensive!I am a firm believer that with horses (well most things actually!) that repeated good experiences, calm manner and consistent approach will reap rewards, and Bridget now leaps on to the lorry, and doesn't care who she stands next to!!

My first ever experience of a bad loader was an ex racehorse named Charlie who thought my little baked bean can of a trailer was not any form of transport he would be taking! It was dark when we left home and I think he loaded not really realising he was doing so- but every corner involved him scrabbling dramatically to stay on his feet and no matter how carefully I drove, the noise was horrendous! After a lovely couple of hours with hounds I went back to the trailers where my horse firmly planted his feet at the bottom of the ramp and refused point blank to move. I had to endure the humiliation of a steady flow of people returning to their transport, loading their horse and spending some time (depending on how long it took for the next unfortunate volunteer to arrive so they could excuse themselves) helping me trying to load my very determined horse! Lots of ideas, suggestions, some more constructive than others! until eventually 2 rather burley men arrived, dismantled my partition and physically lifted him in to the trailer! I am eternally grateful - (and still occasionally reminded about it). Needless to say loading practice ensued, days of patient persuasion, feeding in the trailer, short journeys, more food and always leaving plenty of time. He became a great traveller and I never did put the partition back in- and he never scrabbled around corners again!

Over the years I have had a few aside from Bridget, who have been tricky to load and usually a rope around their bottom, or long lines either side of the ramp are enough to encourage them on board, but some you see when out and about are not having any of it.

I often wonder what has happened to horses that I see in lorry parks standing at the bottom of their ramp, ears back, toes firmly dug in to the ground flatly refusing to put a toe on to the ramp! I, rightly or wrongly, am convinced that it is usually down to contentment when travelling. If you had to stand braced to go round a corner, struggling to keep your feet or lurching at every junction, you too may think twice about travelling. So consider when you are driving your precious cargo how they have to deal with stops and starts and moving round corners. Consider driving a bucket of water from a to b - 3/4's full. When you get there- is it still 3/4's full? if so, good job- you are ready to drive your horse about, if not, think about braking time- watch the road ahead and plan. Think smoothly around the corners and gently through the gears - your horse will thank you for it and you will reap the rewards of a relaxed horse doing his or her best for you in return!

Employers often need lorry or trailer drivers, and if you are a groom looking for employment with out these qualifications it may be worth you investing in your future and doing your hgv or trailer test- if you need any free advice on the best way to go about this, speak to us at Premier Equestrian Recruitment - and improve you career prospects for the new year 07714236765

WEG diary - Katie Dutton

Andrew Hoy's groom Katie Dutton shares her experiences of travelling to the World Equestrian Games at Tryon, North Carolina, with the Australian eventing team.


Tuesday 4th September

Well that’s it, Vassily and his team mates have been dropped off at Liege airport along with all his stuff! Hopefully, I haven’t forgotten anything. All essentials are packed and have been weighed, every spare bit of space in both trunks has been utilised. My precious charge is happy in his stable, surrounded by his other 4 equine team mates and is under the expert care of our vet who will be in charge until they land the other side.

Now it’s time for the humans, both grooms and riders. Take the lorries back to base and  we then head off for some food, a night in the hotel and then  start the journey tomorrow, while the two grooms sent ahead, settle the horses in and look after them while they are in quarantine in Tryon.

Wednesday 5th September

Well, I had a good night's sleep in the hotel and made full use of the jacuzzi bath in my room! I have packed, emptied and repacked my suitcase more times than I care to count. I’m hopeless at packing, if I don't run out of underwear and socks it will be a miracle! Hopefully I won’t need the 6 pairs of jeans I have sent back to the lorry, looking at the weather forecast I think I will be OK without them!!

So, I'm on my way to Brussels airport with the rest of the team, there are 11 of us travelling together, hopefully we won’t lose anyone...

We have heard that all the horses are well and are loaded waiting to fly, I feel like an anxious parent not seeing him this morning, but I know he is in good hands.

Now we have two flights to do today, 8.5 hours to Newark and then a connecting flight of 1.5 hours to Charlotte. Goodness knows how I'm going to sit still for that length of time, but I think I will be ok.

Thursday 6th September

Urgh hello jet lag!!!!

I'm 5 hours behind the UK currently, which is weird, very weird.

So, a quick phone call to the two grooms in quarantine when we landed last night and the horses all travelled well and are settled (as much as they can be) in quarantine. They arrived there at 6pm American time last night and will be in there until Friday afternoon. This is a standard procedure that the horses must go through. The girls have set times of the day that they are allowed in to feed and walk the boys, yes, all 5 of our horses are boys!

 

 

WEG sculpture

WEG sculpture

Decorating the stables in team colours

Friday 7th September

So, the stables are ready and so are we! 3 days without Vassily is long enough, just want him out now and be able to fuss and pamper him to the best of my abilities.

The stables are nice, big and airy! And they come with fans, boy it's hot! But the heat isn’t causing the problem, it’s the humidity, currently averaging 94%!

The 5 grooms have all decided to go for a team lunch. Boy the Americans know how to do portion sizes, usually I come home from an international having lost a bit of weight, not sure this trip will follow suit!

 

Saturday 8th September

Katie Dutton with Vasilly

Katie with Vassily

He is out! I’m so happy to be reunited with my boy. He is looking and feeling well! He was ridden early doors this morning to beat the heat. He loves the  fans in his stable, I catch him standing under them letting the air waft through his mane.

Because the horses are being worked early, every couple of hours we all take our horses for a half an hour walk in hand in designated areas and walkways with fans wafting over us!  It’s nice to keep them moving after their long journey, they flew 10 hours directly and an addition their days in quarantine. Plus, it means I get to spend that bit more time with him which I won’t turn down.

So annoyingly, all the grooms are being shipped about a bit in terms of accommodation. Tonight, I am heading into my 3rd place since arriving out here. That’s a little draining but hopefully we will be somewhere settled soon!

Sunday 9th September

Nothing too exciting to report today. All the horses were worked early again because of the heat. Once they are worked, it’s a case of getting tack cleaned, numnahs hung out to dry, which doesn't take long!

We are finding our bearings, it’s a bit like a maze round here... So many arenas and walkways that all seem to lead to the same thing, but I can’t seem to go somewhere and come back the same way. Geography never was one of my strongest subjects at school!

Monday 10th September

Tents! Some dreadful looking concentration camp like tents have appeared....

Horses all on flying form! As are grooms and riders! Well, I say grooms, the food is so far not thrilling us! I mean we weren’t expecting Michelin style dining... but we are in America and they love food, right? Fingers crossed it will improve, otherwise I might still return having lost some weight after all!

I have been sent to the doctors, a chest infection has decided to make an appearance which isn’t the easiest thing to deal with. Combined with the heat, the air con in hotel rooms and the car I don’t sound the healthiest. Thankfully, I have been prescribed a course of antibiotics, so it should have cleared up by this time next week when I fly home.  

Team Australia horses with their grooms

Team Australia horses with their grooms

Horses are still being hand walked and they are all very happy in their temporary housing.

I’m off to investigate these tents, I am not moving into a shared tent. No way!

Tuesday 11th September

So, the good news is none of us are moving into the tents! Hooray! I spent a night in a hotel last night having been onsite since Friday night, but needs must. We have two grooms onsite should we need them, plus the team of vets are always about too.

I feel like I'm writing the same thing a bit, but nothing exciting happens really until tomorrow so the same day to day of sorting out Vassily, he gets worked early and then we walk several times a day to keep everything moving and preventing him from being in the stable for long periods of time.

Just heard, I'm moving to another hotel tonight, but on the upside, we have been promised that we shall remain here until the end now. It would be nice to semi unpack my suitcase for longer than one night!

Wednesday 12th September

Trot up day! Hopefully I can remember how to plait, its bizarre but we all keep joking that it feels like a long time ago since we put pretty plaits and quarter markings on, but I have faith that we will all remember how to do it and the horses will all look amazing.

 

Oh, my word, the rain in the UK is nothing compared to the rain we just had here! It was 26 degrees this morning, now within 20 minutes of the rain stopping it has shot up to 31 degrees, but also 97% humidity!

Trot up passed! All 5 Australian horses are through the 1st horse inspection which is brilliant news. Also, I can safely say I remembered how to plait Vassily’s mane and tail and put quarter markings on. Phew!

Vasilly's quartermarks

Vassily's quartermarks

I can’t say that I would have passed any form of a vet inspection, a swift visit to the physio yesterday following a fair bit of pain in my lower back and it was found that the left-hand side of my pelvis had rotated. Something that happens to me quite regularly but it’s not the easiest thing to deal with. Along with being slightly lame with my pelvis, blisters have also hit with a vengeance. Mind you, we are spending 19 hours a day on our feet, mainly in deck shoes, until we get the chance to swop into flip flops. Putting baby powder in my shoes in a morning has become a ritual and I carry some in my rucksack too. It does help to stop your feet from getting quite so hot but to be honest it’s going to happen in this heat regardless.

Thursday 13th September

An early start for me this morning, our test was shortly after 9am. So, I needed to feed, muck out, hand walk and have him plaited and looking as smart as I knew I could turn him out and ready for when Andrew wanted to get on to warm him up.

Something very odd happened this morning though. I found myself a little stressed and panicky. We all have our own little routines of how we do things, I like to pop a headphone in one ear and zone out from what everyone else is doing but be aware of what’s going on at the same time.  

Then it hit me. I started to doubt myself and my ability to do something I knew I could do. There was a different vibe in the barn today. Was it the realisation that we are at the World Equestrian Games or was I just being stupid? Either way I found myself in a flap and asking Steffi if she thought Vassily looked ok? Cue a very shocked face as Steffi looked at me and said of course he does. A quick hug and a well done settled me down.  

What a test, I was a little emotional after he finished. He went in the arena and performed his little socks off. What a privilege to be a part of this! Proud is an understatement.

He will have some time in the stable to rest, relax and while we go and watch another of Team Australia test and then I will walk him again later.

Friday 14th September

The hotel we are staying in is half an hour away from the stables, which is less than ideal, but I have been here since Tuesday, so I won’t complain too much. Luckily, there is a Starbucks at the end of the road where the hotel is so at least I can fuel up on the way in in a morning. I seem to have become designated driver in a morning too which I don’t mind, the girls sleep on the way in and then I sleep on the way home when one of them drives. It's being able to  compromise and work as a team that makes these trips so successful and memorable.

With Vassily having done his test yesterday, he went for a little jump this morning along with his team mate who also did his test yesterday which I can safely say he loved! In fact both horses and humans loved it.

In between watching the remaining 3 Australian tests today, Vassily will keep going for walks and then us grooms really want to go and walk the cross country course later so we know just what challenges lie ahead.  

With storm Florence edging a bit closer each day, we have downloaded a storm tracker on our phones which we are eagerly keeping an eye on. Hopefully it won’t disrupt our schedule!

Off to walk the course now! Think we will need to take lots of water!

Saturday 15th September

Wow! What a course awaits both horses and riders today. The fences are big, but beautifully presented and I'm glad we went and walked it, so we know what the riders are talking about later in the day. I’m off to get prepared, we are 6th out on course. Wish us luck!!

Ok, so I have no words! And for anyone who knows me well, they will know how rare it is for me to be speechless! Clear inside the time at only 9 years old! Unbelievable. The course caused some problems, with older more experienced horses, but this special boy just ate it up like it was nothing. He really is amazing! Lots of carrots and apples for him tonight!

The only frustrating thing is that we were told last night that the showjumping has been postponed until Monday due to Florence moving in closer to us.

The food hasn’t improved much sadly. But luckily, there are places on site we can eat, the only downside is our accreditation doesn’t mean we get it for free, but I would rather pay for good food than eat rubbish free food! Again, anyone who knows me, knows how much I love my food!

Vasilly looking beautiful!

Sunday 16th September

Rain, rain and more rain! It’s just like being in England really, except it’s a bit more persistent and heavier than any rain I have witnessed. All of the walkways and arenas are flooded, we are absolutely soaked to the skin. I’m glad I left a couple of pairs of jeans in my suitcase, today is definitely not a shorts and vest top kind of day!  

With the decision made that we will trot up today and show jump tomorrow, we plaited up, put on our waterproofs and all passed the trot up.

I’m off to dry out and eat some comfort food! Sounds mad and probably a bit silly but I'm starting to feel a bit homesick now. Think the long days, mental exhaustion, the driving, not being in the same place for more than one night in the beginning is starting to take its toll on me.

Monday 17th September

Showjumping day has arrived! We are near the end of the list to jump as they jump in reverse order on the last day, so we have quite a long wait until we jump. Thankfully it has stopped raining and its back to shorts today! I think my shoes might take a while to dry out though!

So, with the showjumping course causing no end of problems I was getting more and more nervous. I don’t know why, it wasn’t me that had to jump the fences. I just wanted Andrew and Vassily to have the result they so deserved.

Down to the showjumping we went, he warmed up beautifully and he went in and jumped the most spectacular clear round. Double clear at the World Equestrian Games at just 9 years old! I cried, a lot! We finished 4th, so close to a medal but nobody could have expected that result - truly brilliant.

Now for the big pack up. The horses fly tomorrow morning, and our flight has been changed from Wednesday to Tuesday - so we will all leave at the same time. All our kit has been packed back into the two trunks it flew over in and Vassily’s flight bag is ready. The trunks have all been placed outside of the barn on pallets ready to be transported to the airport ready to fly home.

We are all off for a well earned pint or something alcoholic. I have completed my 1st championships and what a result to finish with.

Tuesday 18th September

So that’s it! Time to go home. I’ve packed my suitcase for the final time. We leave for the airport before the horses leave. But we have all been and fed, walked and left instructions with the vet who is flying home with them. What an amazing experience this has been.

I have made some friends for life, met and worked with some inspirational people and some of the world’s best in the industry. Memories have been made that will last me a lifetime. What a year, what an opportunity.  

Could this be you? Is it your dream to be part of a team and experience the highs (and lows!) If it is, we want to hear from you- whether you are experienced and looking for a new challenge, or starting out and looking for your first foot on the ladder- we can help. Contact Clare  on 07714236765 or email info@premierequestrianrecruitment.com

 

To rug or not to rug..........

photo credit Rupert Gibson Photography.

Autumn has to be the trickiest time of year for rugging up horses. The evenings turn chilly so quickly and temperatures overnight can soon plummet to frosty depths and then the next morning by 11am it is blazing sunshine. This year is a little more extraordinary than most with the consistent dry sunny days, (please don't let me be the curse that breaks the spell -although some rain to soften the ground would be lovely - I do have a fear that when it starts it won't know when to stop!!), and I seem to spend more time at evening stables debating which rug, if any, to put on, only to then be lying in bed thinking 'well I got that wrong then' as the temperature either plummets if I haven't rugged up, or doesn't go below 13 degrees if I have!

Breathable lining in new Zealand rug

 

I have lost count of how many times over the last couple of weeks have I left home early, horses nice and snug with their rugs on in almost freezing conditions to return to find them steaming gently in the baking sun! They are not unduly concerned, but it can't be that pleasant for them. So, I have invested in some new rugs, (any excuse my husband would say!!) And I have to say I am rather pleased with them. Shires Tempest; red rugs with a very effective breathable lining, so when I left the frost covered yard this morning the boys were as warm as toast in their new PJ's, and when returned at 11 o'clock they were as cool as cucumbers despite the temperature having increased by 16 degrees!

 

My horses spend the majority of their time rugged up if they are in work, it keeps their coats looking glossy and smooth and keeps the pesky flies at bay, and Henry being grey it helps to keep the worst of his stains at bay- well almost! My main aim at this time of year is to put off the clipping for as long as possible, but this week the tell tail signs of the ''blackberry coat'' have appeared. I have no idea what ‘'blackberry coat'' actually means, and if any one can enlighten me I would be delighted!! All I know is Triggers is worst- it stands up on end and looks fluffy - the clippers are revving!.

 

Lovely clean rugs ready for use this winter

And then the joy of the clean rugs!! At the end of the winter all of the rugs are packed off to the lovely Ruggles people who wash, repair, reproof and bag up for easy storage over the summer months. I just love opening them up and putting them on freshly clipped bodies- all nice and clean - SO pleasing. There are some fabulous rugs on the market, and I have to confess to having rather a penchant for a new rug or two, I would be far too embarrassed to share a picture of the shelves in the shed with rugs on......one for every day of the week, for every horse wouldn't be too much of an exaggeration! If you look after them well and keep them clean and reproofed they last well, which is rather dull really as I do love to have a new rug delivered! When buying new rugs research well, some makes and styles suit some horses better than others, and it is well worth asking opinions before spending- especially as it is very easy to spend a rather large amount of money on new rugs!

 

 

Even in the depths of the beast from the east their coats kept them snug

 

At this time of year when their coats are changing, if you do not intend to clip them out I would not put a rug on at all...………….hairy ponies/ horses are happy ones. Their coat will develop over the next few weeks and produce the best protection for them, but if you rug up you prevent it from forming a proper winter woolly. Even in the hardest of last years 'beast from the east' the two horses that wintered out did not need rugs. Their coats stood up to trap air next to the skin and kept them toastie, by putting a rug on you prevent the horses body from doing its natural thing. The one foot note to add to that would be that my winter fields have great shelter in the form of high hedges and trees- if they were out in an unsheltered place I would think again - they need some thing to tuck their bottoms in to on a windy day! If you want to ride off the field and are worried about them getting too hot and sweaty, just clip out their tummy and under the neck - it helps enormously and won't affect their insulation too badly.

Why would you want to be a groom?

For me it was always simple, although I never had a pony, and came from a very non horsey background, I just had to do it.

I think groom is such an inadequate word for someone who is responsible for (often priceless) horses. It depicts a small person rushing round with a dandy brush in one hand and broom in the other. But grooms have huge responsibilities, even if you are only on the bottom rung of the grooming world ladder, an employer puts the care of their precious horse in to your hands. They hope you will do your best for them and ensure they are cared for properly. Do not underestimate how hard that is, I know for a fact I would not leave my horses in the care of any one who I did not implicitly trust.

As a groom you should convey an air of confidence and self-belief, without coming over as cocky and arrogant, not always an easy balance to strike. But a calm, steady attitude, look in to the eye of the person you are talking to and smile with your eyes, this goes a long way to give confidence to your employer. Similarly, with horses, be confident, but not bossy, calm and quiet without being timid. It sounds like a mine field I know, but at Premier Equestrian Recruitment we can help with that. We are very fortunate to have Tiny Clapham, former Olympian and horse woman extraordinaire on hand. Tiny has worked with all manner of horses, employers, owners and grooms over the years, and her knowledge is the envy of many.

Tiny can elevate you to the status of ‘Top Groom’ with advice, tips on how to conduct yourself, how to go that extra mile and how to achieve a professional touch that will enable you to be super successful in your chosen career path. We at Premier Equestrian Recruitment view this as a ‘finishing school’ for grooms. You come away from college with an enormous wealth of knowledge, we want to help you to be able to apply this into a work environment to enable you to achieve your dreams.

I am astounded sometimes by the lack of understanding of the level of commitment you need to have to be a groom. I am not advocating slave labour and employers abusing the apprentice schemes for cheap labour, but I do expect a groom signing up with Premier Equestrian Recruitment to have high standards not only for the care for their horses, but for their turnout, and well being. They must also show an exemplary attitude towards work and exhibit a very high level of commitment to their job.

What will elevate you from a jobbing groom to a ‘Top Groom’ is going that extra mile, and smiling through it, employers really don’t enjoy having to nag, so keep your eyes open and be pro active, don’t clock watch and certainly don’t be a jobs worth ‘that’s not my job’ is never an attitude that got Tiny Clapham to the Olympics on Windjammer!!

With no equine qualifications, (they were not so accessible for a non horsey person back then), I trained on the job – actually I think I flew by the seat of my pants if I am honest! But I was hard working, extraordinarily conscientious and soaked up every piece of information and advice that anyone would offer me, in fact I still do..............you never stop learning.

Today, there are courses to cover every career, you can go to college and become qualified to work with horses in whatever capacity you wish, whether grooming, teaching, managing, sales, training, the list is endless.
If you have a passion and want to work in the equestrian industry, whether you know which route you want to take or not, a careers evening at Brooksby Equestrian College, Melton Mowbray could be the answer. A tour of the facilities, and first hand advice on the courses available, as well as the best qualifications to train for you from Brooksby Equestrians’ lecturers and careers advisors. Premier Equestrian Recruitment will also be there to advise you on your post college options, as well as Tiny Clapham, who will share with you her experiences and offer advice on maximising your potential.
Please contact Clare info@premierequestrianrecuitment.com or Charlotte Farmer-Day cfarmerday@BrooksbyMelton.ac.uk for information on the next event.

How do you negotiate the minefield that is being employed in equestrianism?

How do you negotiate the minefield that is being employed in equestrianism; an industry that for many an employer their horse is their hobby, financed on a shoe string and expecting their groom to do the job for love not money?

Well you don’t have to – there are some exceptionally good jobs out there, well paid, sensible hours and time off, pensions and holiday pay; at Premier Equestrian Recruitment we only deal with employers who understand the importance of employing their groom properly, paying a decent wage and offering decent working conditions.

But, YOU must be well equipped with knowledge and expertise to negotiate yourself a proper wage, and you must be capable of performing the job to the standard that wage will reflect. Be brave enough to know your worth and do not work for an unscrupulous yard that pays less than minimum wage and has no idea about days off. Keep your eye on developments in horse care and new products, keep up to date with any training that you are able to do, and always accept an opportunity to increase your skill set, even if it means extra work, or training after work. In the long run it will make you a more attractive candidate for a ‘TOP JOB’.
Working in any yard you need to be efficient, proficient, and capable of dealing with many different situations. Learning how do perform tasks quickly but properly will elevate you to the status of 'top groom'. Plaiting beautiful plaits, clipping immaculately, pulling a tail are all essential skills in any yard. But little things make all the difference; skipping out religiously (one of my favourites!) brush a tail before going on exercise, always pick out and paint feet, I certainly want my horses to look smart when they are trotting down the road and if you are working for a professional, what you do reflects on them so if you automatically assume every horse must look its best at all times, then you won't go far wrong.

If you are responsible for management of the yard make sure you keep your paper work up to date and tidy, passports with vaccination pages tagged, a calendar with due dates for teeth, vaccinations, backs etc. If you have liveries, a book with billable items, such as shoeing and worming and a book with all the kit that comes with each horse to avoid dramas when it goes home! Whiteboards – every yard should have at least one, we use them for feed lists and leaving notes for each other as well as exercise lists for the yard – SO useful!
With a ‘Top Job’ you will often find accommodation included in your package, which is lovely, as you don't have to travel to work, but be careful that you still get your time off- it can be all too easy to nip in on your day off, and before you know it you are 'just' skipping out or 'just' plaiting one ready for tomorrow- take your day and make it your own!! And while thinking about accommodation - make sure you look after it; keep it clean and tidy, throw the hoover round the straw and shavings that inevitably make their way in, and be proud of your space. If you share with other members of the team, have a rota, and for goodness sake DO THE DISHES!!!! The way you look after your house or flat will reflect on your work in the yard- if you have the mindset to put things away and keep everything tidy this principal will follow you into your workplace as well -elevating you to 'TOP GROOM' status.

Premier Equestrian Recruitment offers advice to job seekers about their interviews- turnout, presentation and conduct, and the secrets on how to be a ‘TOP GROOM' if you are looking for advice from someone with 30 years’ experience working with horses (and their owners!!) Clare can give you a valuable insight in to working in the equestrian industry. With workshops throughout the year to help you polish up your cv and hone your interview technique you can ensure you secure your TOP JOB, for more information www.premierequestrianrecruitment.com/contact or call 07714236765

The hunting season is nigh......

The hunters are back in, all whiskers and spikey manes.

Having had his shoes off and out in a field away from home for 8 weeks to chill out Snakey (as he is affectionately known -due to his tendency to chase you around his box with his teeth!!) has had a very relaxing holiday by the look of his tummy!

So the get fit campaign will start with him coming in every day for some respite from the sun and the flies, a little net of hay to keep him occupied and 15 minutes on the walker twice a day for 5 days before we get his shoes on and start the road walking. The dry conditions have really helped his feet as he has a tendency to thrush- and when the fields are wet he can suffer from this condition, even when out full time. This year there is no sign of it- his feet have survived very well and a couple of trims during his break to stop his feet breaking up has paid dividends and they look fabulous and ready for his new shoes!

His mane looks like a zebras! sticking straight up in the air- and will provide us with some entertainment to get it contained to look remotely respectable for hound exercise or autumn hunting - but Anna is an expert- and we will do a mane pulling masterclass on the blog over the next few weeks - the secret is little and often, resist the temptation to attack the Mohican all at once - you will be relieved when you plait for the first time - trust me! Like-wise the tail - be patient and your charge will look a million dollars at opening meet.

So this week has seen visits from the farrier, equine dentist and the physio. The whole yard has had a top to toe check over. I am a firm believer in a check up before you get going, that way if there are any issues with sore muscles from playing in the field you do not run the risk of causing issues when you get going with the fitness campaign. One thing to be aware of is you saddle fit- if your horse has spent a while out and has gained some weight- be careful that his saddle still fits - you may find that a saddle fitter may recommend using a different saddle if he is significantly larger (an employer will be most impressed if you are aware that this may be an issue!)

So during the next few weeks we will increase the work load gradually, building the muscle up and losing the fat that he has put on over the summer. We will walk him for 4 weeks, you have to gauge the amount of walking, taking in to consideration the amount of time your horse had off and what sort he is , and there is no doubt that some horses maintain their fitness more than others. We will then start adding in trotting, slowly building up to an hour and a half of ridden exercise, and then when that ground work is done we will start to add in canter work. After a week or so in to the trot work we will introduce some light schooling, working over trotting poles and small fences to help him improve his core strength before moving on to outings to Vale View or Aylesford for some cross country schooling. Our aim is the Belvoir Team Chase and the Cottesmore Fun ride as a pre cursor to the hunting season so not a day to be missed to ensure he is physically ready for a good gallop with 25 fences! We will keep you posted with his progress!

If you are a groom working with hunters and need any advice about getting your charges back to peak fitness please contact us at info@premierequestrianrecruitment.com- we are always happy to offer any advice! Or if you would like to work with hunters check out the vacancies we have here

Enjoy the sunshine!

Whatever equestrian job, dedication is essential

If you are contemplating a career in the equestrian industry, or are currently looking for a new job, it can be incredibly daunting looking at all of the possibilities on various web sites. There are reams and reams of jobs, you can select options to filter your results, but essentially your starting point must be know what you actually want to do and after that all you need a good dollop of dedication!

Eventing last week at Upton House I found my self looking around the lorry park and soaking up the activity. The grooms never stopped, grooming, studding up, tacking up, changing tack and boots, greasing up, washing off, de-studding walking round, bandaging, cleaning tack and finally loading up to go home. It was exhausting to watch, especially in the extraordinary heat we are experiencing at the moment, (although I did think the job is a little more appealing in these conditions with your shorts and strappy top on than when it is tipping it down with rain in a usual British summer) but at the end of the day, as girls and lads were sitting on lorry ramps eating ice cream waiting for riders/owners to return from the prize giving I was rather in awe of their work ethic, smiling all day, heads down and getting on with it.

And this is just eventing: what ever discipline you choose, whether you want to work in polo, show jumping or showing (to mention just a few) you will need to be dedicated. Professionals and amateur competitors alike require their grooms to have an understanding of the level of commitment that is required to be a top groom. I am never sure how to instill in a new candidate quite what is expected of them in any job, let alone a top job. The pre conceived idea of how much work a groom should be expected to do can be rather unrealistic, and when I learn that a groom has refused to start half an hour earlier on a show day, I know that he or she will not be in this industry for long. And with this statement I do not condone employees being over worked or abused, but there certainly has to be a degree of give and take from employees- if you start early one day, you will usually get an extra hour or two off during the easier non show days- it is the give and take attitude that is needed to make the job work! I worry that unless the next generation take on board the reality of working in equestrianism, and have the dedication necessary to stick at a job and learn their profession there will be a real gap in the equestrian employment market.

If you are a job seeker in the equestrian industry and are looking for a new job or a change of jobs give me a call, or drop me a message and let me help you unravel the tangled web of jobs that are available. I can offer you a personal approach to recruitment, I am very happy to chat about your career opportunities and options please call 07714236765 mail me at info@premierequestrianrecruitment.com or to view the current vacancies we have https://premierequestrianrecruitment.com/positions-available/

Are you seeing signs that your employee is about to move on?.........

..........It is every employer's nightmare, little signs over the weeks that leave you with that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, just waiting for the call - or more often, the text to say they are not coming back to work- but what can you do about it?

Ignoring the issue and hoping it will go away is absolutely the WRONG thing to do- this will only result in both of you feeling resentful, emotions running high and potentially arguments that result in things being said that everyone regrets.

Talk to your member(s) of staff regularly, sit and have a cuppa at some point every week and ask them if every thing is ok, are they happy with the horses, is the yard running well? Ask if they have any suggestions as to how the yard may be improved, make them feel part of the team - (even if it is only to 2 of you).

If you have a large yard with lots of staff then I highly recommend delegating the HR (Human resources) role to some one. You may laugh and say that this is the equestrian world, not e-commerce or banking - but the equestrian world has fallen behind the other industries as employers because it presumes so much about its employees. It is easy to assume that an employee will work all day everyday because it's horses, that they won't want a lunch hour, work from dawn until dusk when you are out at shows, that they won't want the paid 4 weeks holiday they are entitled to, or the sick pay, maternity leave or pension just because they are horse mad!

But we have a new generation of well educated grooms, they have Further Education Diplomas or Higher Education Degrees and an understanding that goes way beyond the horse mad girls of yesteryear, and now employers have to move with the times too. They must be familiar with employment law, with the HMRC's requirements, with holiday/sick/maternity pay - and pensions too! The list is endless and for the un-initiated, very daunting. The danger of the fear of becoming an employer is that you avoid it completely and then a string of unqualified, temporary staff are relied on: they may not be insured, they may not pay their taxes, they can terminate their employment with out notice, all of these factors contribute to the demise of the reputation of the equestrian industry as a credible employer for the next generation of grooms coming through.

Some employers are themselves employees: by virtue of their day jobs, they pay a groom to do their horses while they are at work. These yards may fall through the net in terms of standards and working conditions, because it's only at home, not a professional yard, it's is easy to think that employment regulations and standards do not apply. Some sole position employers load an a colossal amount of work on to their staff and over the past few years the number of competent sole charge grooms has reduced enormously because they will no longer work long lonely hours for minimal reward.

Grooms nationwide are becoming more discerning, and top grooms are frankly able to be very choosy about where they work. Gone are the days of 60 hour weeks and less than minimum wage. It is time for employers to look at their working conditions and remuneration packages and treat their staff properly. Then you will end up with loyal long serving staff, then the equestrian industry will be able to hold its head high as a credible career option in an increasingly professional world.

If you are unsure why you struggle to find good staff, and when you do they either decline your job offer or don't stay with you long, then we can help with yard visits and advice. Whether you employ one member of staff or 25 we can evaluate and help you to improve the working environment, and therefore help you to employ your TOP GROOM, if you would like to to take advantage of our expertise please register here

Premier Equestrian Recruitment are now able to offer employers personal individual advice or group workshops. We will be covering areas such as how to make your job the 'TOP JOB' that maximizes the applications you receive, how to to write the most enticing and truthful advert, person and job specification. Advice on how to interview; what are the right questions to ask, how to read between the lines and how to sieve the wheat from the chaff and appoint your perfect member of staff. Possibly most importantly how to communicate your decision to the successful and the not successful applicants. Telling some one they have not been successful in their application for a the job can be very hard- and some employers just don't bother, leaving applicants wondering and disillusioned. We, at Premier Equestrian Recruitment believe that an employer should have the confidence to call the unsuccessful candidate giving full feedback about positives and areas to improve, only then can they work on their weaknesses to improve and become the successful applicant, making the equestrian industry a healthier place to employ and be employed.