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 email@example.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
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.
If, like Henry, you have got that Friday feeling and can't wait to get home, spare a thought for all of us for whom Friday is the beginning of a looooong week end working!
Top grooms know that working with horses is not just a job, it's a way of life, and in fact for many it is life! This is even more the case if you have your own horse at work, you will probably have to muck it out before work, ride it during your lunch hour, finish off after work and compete on your day off - so do not come in to this job if you are expecting the run of the mill 39 hours a week, 8 till 5 daily, hours for lunch, with 2 x 15 minute coffee breaks in between and a Friday night throw your hat in the air with a 'see you on Monday' departure from the yard!
It is much more likely to be that after a busy week in the yard, the week end commences with a 4am start, you rushing round feeding, rugging up, booting, loading and mucking out (ready for the return at 9pm!) Then a quick snooze in the lorry (unless of course you are driving- or navigating!) to be followed by a day of tacking up, studding up, washing off and cleaning tack........... what ever discipline you work in, to have your charges out competing is why we do it - to see them looking amazing and performing their hearts out makes us proud.
But this career is not for the feint hearted -long days, week ends away, sleeping in a tent or the lorry, some times weeks away touring with your horses. It is enormous amounts of fun and the reward of seeing your horses doing well is supremely satisfying. You will make great friends and learn so much, but please come in to this profession with your eyes wide open about the level commitment required to be a top groom; the hours of training as well as hours of working in all weathers, early mornings and late nights. You need commitment with a capital C and above all a passion for horses and a great work ethic.
If you have drive and a passion to work with horses and want to forge your self a career as a top groom and need advice on the best way forward for you please contact Clare 07714236765 firstname.lastname@example.org
For school leavers we have a number of yards offering superb apprenticeships with top class tuition and opportunities for potential top grooms #topgroomsinthemaking