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The ups and downs of life as a professional equestrian groom

Updated: Oct 4

This blog is written by Bekki Schofield, a professional groom. Bekki is currently a freelance groom but has experience of working with horses and riders at the top level of the sport. She is based in Northumberland and is BGA certified, holding her BHS Stage 2 Foundation Groom and has groomed to FEI level. Here she tells us about the ups and down of working with horses and their riders in a professional capacity.

Bekki demonstrating traditional mane plaits

About Bekki

Bekki started riding at the age of 5, she starting off in a riding school before getting her own horse at the age of 19. She began working in a racing yard and riding schools before heading to study for her degree in Equestrian Performance and Coaching. Having competed across a variety of disciplines she has a vast knowledge of turnout and skill, including up to British Novice SJ, Elementary dressage (albeit once!) and showing.

The 3 years ago Bekki decided to leave her full time office job and venture into the world of freelance grooming. She says "was definitely a shock to the system. I already knew all of the pros from freelancing part time - but the cons very quickly became apparent too. Though I have to admit, the pros most certainly do outweigh the cons!"

Bekki demonstrating how to do quarter marks

PROS

Horses - The obvious one! It’s a pleasure being able to work with such a mixture of horses, doing something you love for work certainly makes all the difference. No day is ever the same - as much as it may not seem it from Instagram and Facebook posts, there is so much variety involved in grooming! From fixing mane mishaps to perfect plaits and everything in between.

Satisfaction - I’ve never had job satisfaction like it. From watching people win and get into championships with your turn out, to seeing big businesses you love noticing your work. And there’s no better feeling than watching a horse and rider combination you’ve helped succeed.

The people - As much as I’m really not a people person (hence the working with animals!), talking to owners about their adventures and genuinely having that love of horses in common really makes the difference. Seeing how they progress alongside their horses is just as nice.

The opportunities - There is no end to them in grooming. I’ve been lucky enough to turnout horses for FEI level dressage, but the opportunities you get to travel (if you’re willing!) are amazing. I have a client aiming for HOYS in a few years with their youngster, and I definitely can’t wait for that trip.


CONS

Winter (or just British weather) - You think it’s cold and wet when you have horses to visit twice a day. But you very quickly find your favourite waterproofs and thermals that will definitely keep you warm and dry when you’re out from 6am to 7pm in it

Money - I’m not going to lie, grooming is not the best paid job in the world. But, I’ve always said I’d much rather be skint and happy than rich and miserable - and this job definitely ticks the skint and happy box.

Values - With so many mixed values in industry, sometimes it can be difficult to stick to yours when it comes to clients, sometimes they even make you question yourself. I’ve certainly lost clients because of my refusal to twitch horses. But you come to learn who your people are - and those people seek you out, and are amazingly loyal clients to have.

Long days - It’s not an office job, it’s not 9-5. Yes being freelance means you can pick when you work, but sometimes it means stepping out of that zone. Sometimes you might need to plait for hunting at 4am, or you might be stuck at that show until 8pm. It’s all about balance, and that one day off a week sometimes is the best feeling after 14 hour days!

Time - You don’t have a lot of it spare, and sometimes it never goes to plan! Horses are horses, and when you bring one in from the field for a client, sometimes that 5 minute job can turn into an hour if it comes in with an injury. I’ve had clients stables be flooded when I’ve showed up, and you always have to be on your toes with a plan b just in case! 

Quarter marks

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