How much of your day/week is related to horses?
A good 50% is related to horses probably more.
What is it exactly that you do?
At my “real job” I do chart review, marketing and other duties at a major veterinary hospital. This includes horses as well as small animals (cats/dogs).
My other jobs include:
- Working one day a week conditioning and clipping show horses for an Arabian trainer.
- Running a boarding facility for 9 horses at my home.
- Running a clipping service for horses – I body clip and show clip.
- On my “vacations” I work as a professional show groom.
In this field of work, is it possible to be a full time professional and earning a liveable income?
Yes but it is not easy. Most people do not want to work 80+ hours a week or be away from home as often as this type of work requires.
What are the general steps taken to be employed in such a role?
In my case I just started letting people know I was available again. I got my start by working for people who had known me when I was a full time professional groom. They knew I was hard working, knew I could clip, braid, longe etc. They knew I could handle mares, stallions and young stock and drive a truck and trailer or tractor.
When I first started out I was lucky enough to find someone willing to give me a chance. People for some reason did not think I would stick to it. My first big show as a groom was the Scottsdale Arabian Show. I lived in a portable stall while there. It rained non-stop the entire show. My stall was flooded but it didn’t deter me at all. At the end of the show one of the trainers asked “What do you think?” I replied “This is what I want to do”. I worked there until the farm was downsized in a divorce.
Most importantly you need to be willing to work hard and LEARN. If my work was unacceptable I was told to do it again until I got it right and instead of being offended I got better and better. Learning to braid I practiced on all of our breeding stallions. You have to want to be the best and keep at it until you are.
Favourite horse memory?
There are many but galloping *Enrilo in the 100 acre field ranks way up there. I was fortunate enough to work with some very famous horses and groomed more National Winners than I can count. Watching my friend and head trainer ride horses I had prepped to National Championships is another big one.
To make enough to be able to quit my day job and work for myself – I’m closing in on that goal. And to be known again as one of the best show grooms in the country. I’m competitive – being good is not enough. It feels great to hear one of my veterinarians say “I can tell a horse you have body clipped by sight”. Huge compliment!
Best thing about your sport/profession?
The feel of family. Even after my 10 year “retirement” when I came back to the industry they all still knew me. I knew them and honestly I felt like I had gone home. No one questioned me, no one yelled at me and best of all I didn’t have to worry I might do something wrong. They were all happy I was there to see to it that everything was how it was supposed to be.
“Don’t count your ribbons before the show starts.” – Author unknown