View Full Version : Track Employment- getting my foot in the door...HELP PLEASE!!

Jan. 22, 2008, 01:06 PM

I am an experienced event rider and am looking for a job working as a groom at Arlington Park or Hawthorne (preferably Arlington but beggars can't be choosers). Unfortunately I have no contacts in the racing world and have no way of finding a good trainer to work for or contacting them.

Does anyone have any suggestions to help me get my foot in the door? I am too tall to be an exercise rider or jockey but would like to have a job where I can pay for my horses by working with horses.

Post here or PM me. THANKS!

Jan. 22, 2008, 01:22 PM
The easiest way to break into racing is by working at a farm or training center. You don't need a license (although some TCs require a license), the pace is slower and people tend to be more forgiving. The backside of a track can be a tough place even in a good barn.

Visit http://www.bloodhorse.com and look under "The Souce" for a list of farms and training centers in your area.

If you choose to go to the track right away, good, experienced help willing to do what is needed is always in demand - and speaking in English is a huge bonus! If you can get onto the backside (someone with a license needs to sign you in) you can just go barn to barn in the morning and inquire. This happens a lot - I stopped at a barn not long ago to interview a trainer I was thinking of hiring and his assistant came up to me demanding "What? Are you looking for a job?" I thought "Uh oh, maybe I should have dressed better." :lol: But, my point is, even if you get some unpleasant responses, people are looking for good help.

Don't be so sure you are too tall to exercise. There are some big folks that exercise and do it well. But, it is very good to start as a groom or hotwalker and get familiar with the way things are done at the racetrack before trying to just jump on horses. And, if you want to exercise - a farm is the best place to learn.

There are several people on this BB that work in various capacities on the track that can give you good advice.

Jan. 22, 2008, 01:50 PM
Or, you could do what I did... I became acquaintances with a girl on this board who works at a track as a clocker, and she ended hiring me to call in workouts and work as clocker assistant... Only two days a week though, as I have a regular job M - F...

Jan. 22, 2008, 03:01 PM
Just go to the track, if it is like any other place 90% of people will be begging for you.

Jan. 22, 2008, 05:07 PM
Just go to the track, if it is like any other place 90% of people will be begging for you.

I have to agree with this one! If you are looking for employment as a hotwalker (which is where I would advise starting) you can just go to the stablegate, telll the guards you are looking for work, and a trainer or two will magically appear to whisk you away to their barn...

I would suggest hotwalking first, even grooms need some training, there is a routine to learn, and how to prepare a horse for the races, and "run" them...

If you know how to bandage properly that will be a huge asset for you just starting out!

Once you are on the backside, if you find the trainer that your working for isnt ideal, you can always switch jobs... not really a biggy on the track, especially for hotwalkers.

Jan. 22, 2008, 05:22 PM
But be prepared to work seven days a week and the pay sucks after taxes are being taken out. ;)

As a hotwalker you only work in the morning, once you graduate to groom, you may have to come in on some afternoons to help feed.

And, no matter what the weather, you gotta be there. :yes:

Jan. 23, 2008, 09:45 AM
I noted the OP's comment that she wanted to "pay for my horses by working with horses". The pay isn't that good for the "help" - after food, fuel, and rent, you may have trouble supporting yourself, let alone a horse or two.

Jan. 23, 2008, 10:30 AM
As far as grooms pay, it can be very good, depending on who you work for... I know we sure took care of our grooms... they kind of hold you hostage these days...wont work for less than $ (insert ridiculous price for what you get out of them)....

Jan. 23, 2008, 08:24 PM
I agree that one doesn't have to be "too tall" to be an exercise rider, it is more about weight, not height. I am 5'9 and was a solid 130 lbs at the time (though it was assumed I was 110 lbs) I think 145 is the cut off.

Anyway I started off as a groom, as long as you have some horse experense it isn't hard. The main thing is having enough confidence in your abilities. Try and find out who the good/nice trainers are first, go to them or their foreman and tell them you are interested in being a groom, ask them if it is ok to show them you know (assuming you do) how to put on a bandage (helps if you know how correctly) I remember this really impressed the foreman when I first put on a bandage after only being shown ONCE how to do it, and it was said I did it perfectly. There are alot of half hazzared grooms out there these days, so it is HIGHLY recommended that you be the EXCEPTIONAL one. Nothing like good help that is for sure. :)


Jan. 23, 2008, 08:26 PM
If you know how to bandage properly that will be a huge asset for you just starting out!

Funny I just read this after I posted my post (only read first couple ones) Believe it or not this was a big deal in my getting hired!!! :)

Jan. 23, 2008, 08:28 PM
Go to the race track nearest you in the morning. Early. Go to the guard shack and have them page "anyone looking for a good groom or exercise rider, please come to the gate. You'll be surprised how many show up. Or simply ask the guard if you can post a "job wanted" ad in the track kitchen or racing office. Post a pic of you riding on it if you want. It is a hard, thankless, low paying job with no health insurance, no days off and a totally different type of horse than what you are used to. If you are soft hearted, cry easily, and want to "save them all", don't even bother. At the lower levels, it can be a very heartbreaking business.

Jan. 23, 2008, 08:31 PM
PS I worked at the track as a groom 25 years ago, so I don't know how much they get now. But I was able to live on the track, got paid $1,000 after taxes and received bonuses for winners etc. I thought I was making good money at the time. This is when minimum wage was only $3.50 :(

Jan. 23, 2008, 09:13 PM
About three years ago here at Churchill a groom received $ 450 a week before taxes, taking care of four horses. Plus a bonus for a winner. It may have gone up some, I will have to ask.
Grooms are a dime a dozen around here, same with hotwalkers. Perhaps it's a better situation at another track. Or even better yet, try to get a job at a private training facility. You'll have more perks and less competition.

For someone who can live cheaply and stick it out, it may be a great opportunity to eventually make it to assistant trainer.

Jan. 23, 2008, 09:40 PM
ever consider working at the sales ?? there is always a sale going on somewhere. you can work as a handler/show person or even a groom and make more money than u would at the track. u can do some traveling and make more money. they usually feed you and pay for your hotel. when you get established some consignors will even give you plane tickets and better travel money. horse show diva dot com

Jan. 23, 2008, 10:33 PM
Thanks for all the help guys!

I really appreciate it and keep it coming if you can!

As far as being an exercise rider goes, maybe that is a possibility after all. I am about 6'1" but I only weigh about 115lbs.

I really appreciate everyone's ideas and guidance.

Jan. 23, 2008, 11:40 PM
Funny I just read this after I posted my post (only read first couple ones) Believe it or not this was a big deal in my getting hired!!! :)

Most general purpose riders have no idea how to wrap legs - it is not hard to wrap legs, I can not understand why people struggle so much.

The sales is a great place to work - much better money.

Grooms generally get paid (weekly) $100 per horse, $25+ per race, $15 per afternoon feed, housing included, and stakes after six months. There is always opportunity to earn extra money by doing extra things like clipping horses ($100 per horse), general farm work ($25 per afternoon), etc.

Jan. 24, 2008, 12:26 AM
$100.00 (after taxes) a horse weekly, wow that is four times what I was making 25 years ago, so I think that is much better considering minimum wage hasn't quadrupled :) And my trainer was one of the generous ones.

No, it isn't hard to wrap, but the exercise rider and foreman thought it was wonderful ;) I tend to be the type that learns real fast from experence and listening. When I was being taught how to ride jumpers, I was told I picked up in 10 minutes what it normally took others an hour to learn. We all learn differently and all have different levels of caring also. I was taught if you are going to do something, do it right!

I like the idea of the sales...sounds like fun.

Best Wishes PHHF...if you really want something and are good at what you do, nothing should be able to stop you ;)


Jan. 25, 2008, 12:36 PM
something to consider also when looking for a job working with horses to pay for horses- excerise riding is not always the best bet. You can make great money, for not a lot of hours, but you will inevitably fall off and get hurt. Maybe not something MAJOR, but it can really impact your business if you main means is horses. If you can't ride, you can't make money. and it makes life tough if you are the only one take care of YOUR horses. Just something to think about...

Jan. 25, 2008, 01:23 PM
As far as being an exercise rider goes, maybe that is a possibility after all. I am about 6'1" but I only weigh about 115lbs.

Hubby's galloping weight fluxuates between 150 and 155, at 5'8". When he was galloping in his 20's he was 120 lbs soaking wet though. He won't get on babies anymore, but it's more because he's turning 60 this year then because of the weight. You certainly do not need to rule exercise riding out of your possible future choices, and at 6'1" I imagine you could have or build the upper body strength needed to hold a tough horse. That's my husband's advantage; he has little chicken thin legs, and a very very strong upper body/lower arm. Nothing runs off with him, and if he's told a horse runs off with everyone, he is doubly sure it won't with him :lol:

Jan. 25, 2008, 05:55 PM
yeah. thats one thing i dont have to worry about.

I worked at an olympic event barn for a while and I would dothe gallop workouts with the international horses. the horses gan get going as much as they want but i'm all leg so if things get really rough, my leg keeps me on. plus i have alot of leverage as a rider with my height so horses dont get away from me much. hehe. comes in handy sometimes :)...

Jan. 25, 2008, 07:11 PM
I live in Michigan, bad place to be looking for a job.

Does anyone know of any farms looking to hire? I can bandage, love to clean stalls and brush horses, and have about 12 year experience around horses. I've re-trained race horses and have done some galloping on a couple race horses. I'm 5'2" and ~130 (Give a little more for the winter gain) During warmer seasons I'm around 125. I've got balance, I can ride with stirrups of any length. (One had a stirrup snap when galloping one of our ex racers, stayed up and in the saddle, iron dangling off my boot.) I can only work afternoons and weekends (class) but can work hard as long as I make enough for fuel and a little extra to save up.

Jan. 25, 2008, 09:39 PM
You need to move somewhere else, and afternoons and weekends might not be the optimum time frame for a horse job. The weekend part might work, but Michigan. In the winter? Brrrrr.

Jan. 26, 2008, 12:06 AM
I pay my grooms 2500/month. They have their rent paid for as well. Each groom has 5 horses. I give them $100 dollars a win more for stake winners. I expect the horses to be very well taken care of. I find that the fellows from Mexico do the job to my expectations. Good luck at the track I am sure you will enjoy it in the right barn for you. Shop around once you get your foot in the door, you'll find a trainer that you will like and will appriciate good help.

Jan. 26, 2008, 09:27 AM
Yea, Michigan isn't great for any sort of job, especially in the area I'm located. (Middle Of Nowhere, Population: me.) But moving isn't an option right now, sadly. I'm taking some classes at a local university before taking myself to MSU or the NARA for veterinary studies and equine psychology.