The professional role of the groom is unknown outside the equestrian industry even if the groom is the person who spends a lot of hours looking after sport horses and building a unique relationship with them.
Wild horses are able to take care of themself, sport horses rely on the Groom for everything both at home and at competitions. The Groom plays an important role in horse athlete psychophysical well-being.
In all sports, as in the Olympic equestrian disciplines of Eventing, Show Jumping and Dressage, the results achieved by horses and their riders reflect the effort and the professionalism of a team that works behind the scenes. The team is made of rider, flat rider, trainer, vet, blacksmith, grooms, physiotherapist, chiropractor, saddle fitter and horse's owner. Inside this group, the Groom is the only person related with all the others.
Working with sport horses is not only about mucking out, daily horse grooming, tacking up and untacking, feeding and watering (duties which must necessarily be carried out with knowledge and skills) but also include the periodic grooming of horses and the tack care.
I'm talking about clipping, mane and tail pulling, cleaning saddles, bridles, numnahs, rugs, boots, etc.
The groom also contributes to the cross training of horses for example putting them on the walker or out in the field, riding or lunging them when the rider is not available.
During the horse training or eventually the horse rehabilitation the Groom can use the treadmill, the water treadmill or the horse SPA if they are in the yard.
As it can be easly understood, all these duties can't be improvised but they require some knowledge of equestrian technique, horse training and work experience too.
Regarding stable management, the groom is in charge of cleanliness, organisation and maintenance of the yard, as well as arranging for supplies of feed and hay.
Before each event The Groom loads the equipment and the horses on the lorry.
He is the person in charge of horses welfare during the journey.
At the competition the Groom gets the horse ready, cleaned and properly dressed for the rider at the agreed times.
The Groom takes care of the horse after each test too.
How to become a professional Groom ?
Grooms build a connection with equestrian sports and horses for passion. Since they are children they have lessons in a riding school so they grow up learning how to be confident with horses.
Often a Groom starts his career working alongside a good rider to improve his riding technique and to become a professional rider in the future. A boy/girl always decides to be a professional Groom just because it is a way to be deeply close to horses and competitions.
Working in Italy and abroad on occasion of international eventing and show jumping competitions and also speaking with my colleagues, I could realize the huge improvement the professionalism of the Groom Job has reached so far.
At the present day the role of the Groom is a key work inside the horse athlete industry so that during the most prestigious events as at the Badminton Horse Trials , the best Groom is rewarded for his teamwork.
I was pleased to be awarded at the FEI European Eventing Championship 2014 in Portugal, it was an unforgettable feeling that repaid me for all the efforts I have made.