What are Eventing Grooms and Eventing Groom Jobs?
by Becky Parker
If you enjoy the thrill and 3-phase multi-discipline sport that is eventing, maybe a fast-paced life and career as an Eventing Groom is for you!
A breadth of experience, especially when you combine this with a logical “career story”, longevity in your roles and good references from each of your jobs is fab for your CV or for your advertising if you are a freelance Groom.
When you work “inside” the equestrian industry there is jargon (terms, job titles and job content etc) which we inherently understand and therefore take for granted that others will know what it all means too. If you are starting out, or you are considering a different discipline within the industry as one of your career options, sometimes it is good to have a more in-depth insight to help with your choices and to demystify some of this jargon.
It’s an Event Grooms life!
Eventing is a notoriously fast-paced and exciting sport to watch and as a job, it is just the same. Event grooms are the busy bees behind the scene preparing these multi-talented equines for all 3 disciplines on the day of the competition and through intense fitness work combined with top-class stable management at home.
What do Eventing grooms do?
On a day to day basis the grooms will be responsible for all the usual yard work eg. mucking out, feeding, watering, keeping the yard tidy and well maintained so that is a clean and safe place for the horses to live, as is expected from all grooms. The key differences in the sport and the skills it requires from its grooms are:
- Eventing grooms need to have a good all round understanding of all 3 disciplines within the 1 and 3 day event. From the scoring system, to the tack required, to the physical and mental demands each will have on the horse.
- Further to this a good understanding of how best to help a horse recover from the extreme physical exertion running Cross-Country puts on them, both immediately upon finishing and for the proceedings few days.
- It is not unusual for a professional event rider to have 4 or 5 horses at 1 competition so the event groom must have excellent time keeping and organisational skills to have all the horses in the right tack, at the right place, for the right time.
- In most (but by no means all) event yards the grooms will do a lot of the basic fitness work hacking. This will frequently include riding and leading for efficiency. Confident riding grooms will also assist with galloping the more advanced horses.
- You will need a working knowledge of how to clean, insert and remove studs and which size is appropriate for every kind of going. If you don’t you will soon learn!
- As already mentioned competition grooming for eventing is a particularly busy day and the rings do have a tendency to be, what feels like at least, many miles apart! Therefore, if you are to stand a chance of avoiding flagging by lunchtime a good base level of fitness is essential, it’s not only the horses that have to be fit for this discipline!
Fuelling yourself properly for the day can really help with this, see our article Healthy eating for Equine Grooms for some top tips on how to get this right.
Article continues below…
Who can become an Eventing Groom?
Essentially, anybody with a genuine love of the sport who isn’t afraid to get stuck in and get their hands dirty can become an event groom!
Eventing is one of the most welcoming and down to earth disciplines and seems to really attract the young, keen as mustard college leavers. It can also be a great way to experience and gain an understanding of all 3 aspects of competition grooming from which you can decide what you enjoy most and carry forward a good set of basic skills. For the very career-driven groom, a Sporting Excellence Study Programme provides work-based training and nationally recognised qualifications, specifically in event grooming, specialising in top-level competition. You can read more about the Sporting Excellence Study Programme here.
What equipment do Eventing Grooms use?
In their day to day management the horses usually have a good amount of turn out time, often with summer seeing the lower level/younger horses living out overnight and in by day throughout the season. At the end of the season most, if not all the horses who have had a busy season will be turned away completely to chill and relax with friends for 1-2 months before coming back in to start their winter training. With that in mind probably the most essential and well used items on an eventing yard are the hose pipe and a rubber curry comb, or nowadays a Magic brush!
Other than the usual generic grooms tools you will need to know how to use;
- A stud kit
- An Equissage massage pad
- Infrared heat lamps
- Bandages or boots for Dressage, open fronted Showjumping boots AND Cross country boots (taping on, if rider requires)
- Grease for Cross-Country
- Icing or gel boots as rider prefers
- Clay and stable bandages
- An impressive variety of Breastplates 😉
- Magnetic rugs
- A walker
- A quad bike and harrow/muck trailer
This will obviously vary somewhat from workplace to workplace depending on how each rider runs their yard and chooses to manage their horses.
What are the Highs and Lows of working as an Eventing Groom?
No job is perfect but when a job is the right career move for you the positives will outweigh the negatives to make it still an obviously appealing option. Here we try to outline for you what considerations you will need to look at.
- Event horses, by the very nature of their job, need to be a little more level-headed in order to remain calm enough for the Dressage, containable in the Showjumping and yet quick thinking and brave enough for the Cross-Country phase. They are therefore often easier to manage often considered a less spooky and more laid back type.
- Eventers sometimes offer ‘Apprentice’ positions with the chance for grooms to bring their own horse which they will receive training on and a space on the lorry to go to events where their boss/trainer will be on hand to offer advice throughout the day. https://thegroomslist.co.uk/apprentice-grooms-directory/
- Greater riding opportunities and often the chance to go riding, and even galloping, on some super, top class horses.
- Variety during the season and an off season often spent bringing on the younger horses, going to training sessions, Showjumping, dressage and cross country schooling as the season approaches, and even sometime hunting, depending on the individual yard. There is never a shortage of day trips out in the lorry!
- In theory…a good team atmosphere, developed through a strong need for communication to ensure everything is packed and ready, events with multiple horses run smoothly and honed through many hours chattering whilst out hacking.
- The days are so busy you are unlikely to ever utter the words “I’m bored, I have nothing to do” 😉
- Often opportunities to stay away overnight at shows – if you enjoy that.
- Lovely as all this hacking, days out at competitions and horses spending more time in the fields may seem, when it comes to our not insignificant number of rainy days in Britain this all adds up to a lot of very damp outdoors exposed to the elements time.
- On a similar note, prepare for mud! Most of which will deposit itself in great quantities onto yourself. Turnout time mud, hacking mud, hunting mud, Cross-Country day mud = the only time the amount of mud you can scrape off the tack can compete with that from a days out hunting.
- Studs, just on a whole.
- Stressed riders…..a hazard of any grooms job within the sports sector.
- Competition days are undeniably long and tiring.
- Injured horses and riders are an unfortunate part of any discipline, and with a course of big, solid fences to tackle event horses and riders suffer their fair share!
- Sometimes having to stay away overnight at shows – if you don’t particularly enjoy that!
How much do Eventing Grooms earn?
No matter what level of groom you are you should be earning at the very least the legal national minimum wage for your age or that of an apprentice if your circumstances apply. An experienced eventing groom can expect to earn IRO £350 – £400 per week inc accommodation and bills. It’s important to know your worth and The Team at The Grooms List by Caroline Carter Recruitment are happy to advise on this contact us ….Don’t shortchange yourself!
Getting an Insight
Land Rover Burghley 2015: A Groom’s View
Getting a horse ready to jump around a four star cross country course is no easy feat. Get the inside track from William Fox-Pitt’s right hand lady AND even a sneak peek into what happens in the stables at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.
Getting a job in an Event Yard
Another option to consider if you enjoy being part of the training, prep and lifestyle of the event horse and all the excitement of competition days but could do without the hustle and bustle of a high level professional event yard, is to consider becoming a groom for a keen eventing family with a smaller number of horses. We have an excellent variety of eventing jobs at The Grooms List and are always more than happy to talk through what each role entails to see if it is a match for you. So whether you are already an experienced professional groom passionate about the sport or an eager college leaver ready to get started on your career and sure eventing is the sport for you, please head over to our Jobseeker Zone, register a Jobseekers Profile for free (if you haven’t already) have a browse of our jobs then contact us to discuss your next career move.