If you’ve gone to the race track recently, and studied the horses, did you wonder who took care of them before and after the race, and how?
The folks responsible for the daily care of race horses, show horses, breeding stallions, and foaling mares are known as horse grooms, equine grooms, or just “grooms.” These are the workers who look after a horse’s everyday equine needs, and keep the animals looking and feeling great.
If you love being around horses, and you’re up for a physical job that’s both challenging and rewarding, then working as a horse groom might be an ideal career choice. The job isn’t particularly glamourous, and you won’t get rich doing it, but for many people the perks more than make up for it.
As a groom, you’ll be able to work around horses virtually all the time, you’ll be able to work outdoors instead of being cooped up in an office all day, and you’ll even have the chance to see horses that you have handled and cared for go on to big racing wins or show ring successes!
About the job
Horse grooms, also sometimes referred to as stable hands, spend most of their day attending to horses. Just about every aspect of a horse’s care is part of their job. Grooms are usually employed by larger racing stables, boarding stables, show barns, and breeding barns.
A horse grooms duties usually include the following
- Brushing and grooming the horse.
- Riding and hand walking
- Feeding and watering the animal.
- Observing the horse for any signs of injury or illness.
- Administering any medications as needed.
- Loading horses in and out of trailers, both at the stable and the race track.
- Cleaning out the stalls, barns and breezeways.
- Doing odd jobs and repair work around the stables as needed.
It goes without saying, that a horse groom needs to have a considerable amount of equine experience and knowledge to be safe – and successful – in their profession. This is also a job that’s physical, and requires a groom to be in good overall health. And you’ll not only need to be an expert at handling a horse from the ground, you’ll also need to be a very good rider as well.
Be aware that as a groom, you’ll likely be working in all kinds of weather conditions. Depending on the time of year and your location, you could find yourself outside in cold, hot, rainy or snowy weather.
You can probably expect to work some long, odd hours as an equine groom as well. Since races and horse shows often take place in the evenings or on weekends, you’ll be traveling with your equine charges to race tracks and shows miles away from home. But for many people, this is part of the excitement of the job.
Education and employment opportunities
One of the advantages about becoming a groom is the fact that no formal education or training is required. But any stable owner or other prospective employer will look for individuals who have a lot of experience working with and handling horses, whether it’s your own or someone else’s.
Good riding skills are a must, as most grooms are expected to ride the horses in their care, for exercise and other tasks. So if you plan on a career as a groom, a good place to start is by spending as much time as you can around horses.
Also be aware that the larger facilities, because they naturally have more equine inhabitants, also have more jobs available for horse grooms. Another factor is the value of the horses at the facility – more expensive horses usually warrant more expensive care.
Some grooms work full-time for a regular salary, while others work part-time, and may even work for free in exchange for riding lessons or boarding of their own horses.