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Spin off: (riding in college) Those of you who have full time grooms, explain?

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  • Spin off: (riding in college) Those of you who have full time grooms, explain?

    I was reading the riding in college thread and people mentioning that riders who are accustomed to having full time grooms might not know HOW to properly tack up, untack and generally take care of their horse. Or even further, that they might not LIKE taking care of their horse and it would detract from the riding experience?

    The mind boggles.

    So, would those of you who ARE on full groom. What do you like about it? What do you dislike? Why do you do it? Is it mandatory at your barn?

    To those of you who aren't, would you try it? Why or why not?

    Personally, I love grooming my horses. I feel like it's something we can both enjoy and it's a great way to get to know them and bond. I also feel like it's a great way to get to know all the little intricate details about your horse. What's normal and what's not.

    Of course, there are days where I'd love if someone would just deal with it all for me. Clean up my gelding's poopy behind or deal with my hairy old mare's shedding . But all in all I do enjoy it. I don't think I'd be interested in trying full groom service. Grooming is my way of unwinding. Even when I have a good ride, you can always have a good groom
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  • #2
    Im with the OP on this one. I love to groom my horse. In fact, most of my most cherished moments with my horse happen while grooming. Personally, I would never be interested in full grooming service. Just not my cup of tea. Barn chores are the best chores!
    "To do something that you feel in your heart that's great, you need to make a lot of mistakes. Anything that is successful is a series of mistakes." -B.J. Armstrong

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    • #3
      I have never known what its like to have a groom that wasn't already myself, except this last year there is a woman who rode my horse a couple times when he was for sale, and she likes him a lot and she is a very nice woman, and rides well, and whereas I live 40mins away from my horse, she lives 5mins away I tell her as long as she can take care of him the days I'm not there she can ride him pretty much whenever as long as the trainers there.

      She has helped me at a couple of shows and a clinic and I was in awe. I've never had anyone to help me before (when I was a junior didn't have the funds (as I technically still don't) and mom was completely clueless about what to do) and I didn't actually know what to do with myself, when my horse was bathed, brushed and tacked for my riding clinic and all I had to do was get on. D: I think I literally twittled my thumbs on my tack trunk while I waited for her to tack him because she "didn't want me getting dirty before I rode in front of the Olympian" lol it was weird

      Though, when I go to grad school I think it would be nice to have my horse on full groom, more time for studying and project/TA stuff, also I'm unsure on how often I would be able to get out and groom my horse on a regular basis. I do my best now to brush him everyday (much easier since said lady lives close by and comes to the barn everyday I don't have to push myself to get out there everyday). So I can see where IF I have funds available it would be quite nice.
      If only horses would use their athletic powers for good instead of evil. ~ MHM

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      • #4
        It's very convenient. I've experienced both ends of the spectrum, I've been a groom/working student, and I've also been in barns where I've simply had my horse handed to me, ready to go.

        Yes, I love my horse, and enjoy spending time with her, but I can't always afford to. When I was in college and flying back and forth to Florida on the weekends, it was nice to have my horse on full service so I could spend my free time doing my school work. And since each horse usually stays with the same groom, they also build a relationship. My horse absolutely loved her groom, and he ended up knowing her quirks as well as I did.
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        • #5
          I can understand that it would be SUPER convenient when you're busy, but I am a groom and working student and i really enjoy grooming my horse (well, SOMEONE'S got to pull out the sponge when my poor guy gets diarrhea. yes, i will happily make his bum sparkle til it's white.) plus, i'm kind of anal about how everything gets done. even if someone groomed my pony for me, i think i'd do a once over and decide to regroom him anyway. yes, if i'm in a rush, if i got stuck in traffic on the way to the barn, my horses hooves can wait til after my lesson to get their effol, and i can brush out his tail after my lesson, and have that nice long curry session, AFTER my lesson. but the point is, it still gets done 90% of the time. i enjoy getting to know the other horses in the barn too. my trainer is a super busy guy. most days of the week he's working 8-12 hrs, riding horses and teaching lessons all day. he KNOWS how to tack up and groom a horse like the rest of us, and does sometimes too, but I'm responsible for getting the young horse ready for him. why? he wouldn't have time to ride the horse inbetween lessons if he had to groom and tack up and then cool off untack and groom. there is nothing wrong with this. either way, the horse still gets taken care of. but that's because he's a trainer. there's too much to do. i know on a quiet day he always says "no no, it's okay, i'll get the horse ready " and i go back to cleaning tack or what ever i was doing.
          (|--Sarah--|)

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          • #6
            I don't and would never have a full-time groom. I do board my horse on full board, but I do my own grooming and tacking up. I want the bond that that creates with my horse. If I arrived, got on my fully tacked horse, and handed him over to the groom after my ride, there's no more bond than a student riding a schoolie. He's my horse; I want the bond with him. That might sound selfish, but I don't think it is.

            I want to go over every inch of his body and make sure everything is well. I want to make sure everything is right. And I want him to nicker to me, not a groom.

            I also wonder what having a full-time groom teaches our young riders. Having everything done for you might not hinder you in becoming a good rider, but that can never make a true horseman. I'd be ashamed if I couldn't do the most basic things, like tacking up, for myself. It's nice to have help at a show, but for the most part, I feel horse owners should, as much as they possibly can, take care of their own horses.

            It's not about a pretty ride with sparkingl clean breeches; it's about the bond. If I have to get dirty before I ride, so be it. A little dirt washes off in the next shower. The bond lasts a lifetime.

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            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by superpony123 View Post
              my trainer is a super busy guy. most days of the week he's working 8-12 hrs, riding horses and teaching lessons all day. he KNOWS how to tack up and groom a horse like the rest of us, and does sometimes too, but I'm responsible for getting the young horse ready for him. why? he wouldn't have time to ride the horse inbetween lessons if he had to groom and tack up and then cool off untack and groom. there is nothing wrong with this. either way, the horse still gets taken care of. but that's because he's a trainer. there's too much to do. i know on a quiet day he always says "no no, it's okay, i'll get the horse ready " and i go back to cleaning tack or what ever i was doing.
              Hahah! I definitely wasn't talking about pros, trainers, or others who have 5+ horses a day. Obviously it would be impractical for them to do it all for each horse. But by the time you're a pro I'm pretty sure you would have learned all that stuff anyways. I hope so at least.
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              • #8
                Growing up on the AA circuit paying for your horse to have a groom was mandatory with the barns I rode with. I almost never used the groom assigned to my horses unless we were at a show and I had more then one horse in a class in which case I would need help getting one up to the ring while I rode the other. They did groom my horses when my trainer was going to ride them during the day and I was in school or unable to be there.

                I had to pay for it regardless of if I used them or not but I much preferred doing it all myself. That was the reason I got into horses in the first place. I sure as heck didn't have a groom when we bought my first pony! Poor guy had to suffer the common mistakes of a 6 year old; upside down splint boots and all!

                In high school I would sometimes need to call ahead and have one of my horses tacked up for me so I could get all of them ridden before it got dark so it was nice to have that option then. The grooms always did a wonderful job and were proud of 'their' horses when they did well so I really did enjoy working with them. I just preferred to do most of the dirty work myself.

                In college I have had no need for a groom. I only have 2 going horses and it's simple to keep up with all their care on my own. They're at a fantastic private farm with lots of turnout so I know if I can't make it out that day it's no big deal. We went to a few shows this summer in VA and KY and we had a great time 'roughing' it without a groom . They were slick, shiny, fit and happy in their jobs so that's all that matters to me!

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                • #9
                  I have experienced both ends of the spectrum as well. I had four horses I groomed/tacked/etc solely on my own for many years. I enjoy grooming and spending time with my horse.

                  My barn now has full grooming... if you want it. So, no, it isn't mandatory. It is awfully nice, though, if I'm running late for a lesson or whatever to just call and ask that my horse be tacked and ready to go upon arrival. Also, if the weather is bad or I have to leave early, I'm able to hand off my horse to someone instead of puttering around waiting for him to cool off and get re-groomed. It's handy!

                  With that said, the amount of times I've actually used those services can be counted on one hand, though occasionally I'll appear at the barn and my horse will magically be waiting for me all tacked up. This can be a pleasant surprise, but feels very weird. I guess I would say about half the boarding/training clients take advantage of this service and half do it themselves. In my barn's case, it is definitely the more dedicated half that does their own grooming - the people who are out 3+ times a week riding multiple horses and spending hours upon hours at the barn. 99% of our lesson kids do not tack up on their own, either.

                  When I first went away to an equine-based university, I was trailed by a teaching assistant who asked if I knew how to tack up. When I very startledly said "of course I do!" she goes "well... we get a lot of kids in from full training situations that have no idea how to put on a saddle" and then proceeded to watch me groom and tack up (which I took no issue with, she didn't know me from Adam). I just thought it was very interesting and it truly never even crossed my mind that someone wouldn't know how to tack up and groom a horse.

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                  • #10
                    I am a working mom who runs a company, and rides 2-3 horses every morning after I go to the gym for an hour, take my son to school and before I go to work. I simply could not get it done every day during the work week w/o our amazing grooms. I love to spend quality time with the horses on the weekends - but I have to "hit and quit it" on the weekdays. I am lucky that I live only a few miles from our barn and can commute easily. Those of you who assume that people with grooms are "ignorant" are often wrong. I can do everything related to grooming my horses short of IV shots. I can poultice, wrap, sweat, ice, .....you name it. And have. I know my horses inside and out and I go over each one before I get on and after. Our grooms are amazing. They take incredible pride in the health, happiness and turn out of our horses. I feel like I have a partnership with them - and particularly with our head horse show groom who has been with our barn for over 10 years. He can't stand it when we touch our horses at the shows. He has an enormous amount of justifiable pride in his turn out of our horses. Yes, I take my horses out and graze them, walk them and hang with them daily at the shows....but he turns them out for my classes and I look like a million bucks. Frankly - I've done it both ways. If you have the ability to have a first class groom - you cannot beat it.
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                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by MissIndependence View Post
                      He can't stand it when we touch our horses at the shows.
                      That would drive me SO nuts. He's my horse.
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                      • #12
                        If I had the $$ I would have a groom at horse shows. I have a hard enough time keeping myself on a even keel. Having an extra set of hands would be awesome.
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                        • #13
                          Ive done both as well. There was no way I could get from school to the barn, groom the horse(s)/pony(ies) to what I consider an acceptable standard, warm up and be ready for a lesson, cool out, put away, and get the next ready to school/hack or whatever AND get my homework done and a decent amount of sleep. I've always trusted my trainer's staff to care for my horses. Horse and equipment were always spotless. Everyone was happy. I didn't have to stress about how to get 3 horses to 3 different rings at one time. Of course I still groomed, bathed and grazed whenever I could and there were a couple of years that I "slummed it" (parents' divorce) and did all the hard work myself. I was only able to ride my pony on weekends at the time though, so it wasn't a big deal to spend all day at the barn. Mom was the designated pony holder at shows.

                          Now that I'm in the trainer's shoes I have no choice. Too much to do in a day to do it all myself so I have two guys that I would trust with my own child (if I had one haha). They take excellent care of my clients' horses and I get updates from them on whatever issues come up, in addition to my daily check-over on each horse/pony. For my clients that board elsewhere I give them two options: present yourself at shows in the same condition that my full service horses are, or use my grooms.

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                          • #14
                            I've never been at a barn that had grooms... working students for the trainer but not for me.

                            The first time I went to the track it was so weird to have someone do all the work for me. However I was the dumb one that didn't realize that I was supposed to tighten my girth before I got on.. I assumed they had done it. oops!

                            I wouldn't mind having someone clean my horses everyday. I don't really care that much about grooming, I do it so they aren't filthy and so I can check them for injuries but I'm not the type to brush their tail 100 strokes a night or spit shine their hooves for every ride! I wouldn't mind if someone else kept my horses spotless cause I do like shiny horses, I just don't care enough to do it on my own time
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                            • #15
                              I'm not in college, but this is why I might choose full care.

                              At the moment I am horseless and taking lessons, but I have ridden at lesson barns that used the two different methods.

                              I'm a competent adult and can handle catching, grooming etc. It saves the barn the time instead of having a paid employee do the work. I provided my own tack, which saved the barn the investment in tack. The barn lost control over some of the care of the horses however. If I failed to identify a problem I could easily have inadvertently injured their horse, or had a system failure informing them of a problem. (say the pen was gone from the white board and I had to tell somebody other than the trainer/BM/BO, message never relayed, like that). It took a fair amount of my time as well, up to three hours for a one hour lesson.

                              Right now I ride in a step on program. I arrive and the horse is caught and most always ready to ride. My lesson starts on time and I am able to leave as soon as the lesson is over. Generally I don't, I feed peppermints and help out a little. There are days when I get there early and help groom and tack up. The lesson is half an hour, I am generally at the barn an hour to an hour and a half.

                              In this case the barn has complete control over the care and management of the horse. Even if I arrive early and help they know exactly what I am doing. There are no surprises on either part.

                              I have a fairly stressful and busy life. I find that the support I have by riding at a full care barn definitely makes a difference. In this case these are not my horses and I actually need a little distance from their everyday care so as not to become "territorial". I had a little of that problem when I was in the other program. Just my desire for a horse of my own making me blind I guess.
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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Meredith Clark View Post
                                I wouldn't mind having someone clean my horses everyday. I don't really care that much about grooming, I do it so they aren't filthy and so I can check them for injuries but I'm not the type to brush their tail 100 strokes a night or spit shine their hooves for every ride! I wouldn't mind if someone else kept my horses spotless cause I do like shiny horses, I just don't care enough to do it on my own time
                                When my horse was on full training for two months, part of that included daily grooming. She sure was shiny! She was never ready and tacked for me, but just having a reasonably clean horse when I got to the barn did make getting ready a lot faster. And they did notice the little dings and scratches and NQRness--I'd come in to find ointment on little scrapes that I wouldn't have bothered with, or a mention that she seemed sore somewhere that the masseuse might want to work on. I can see how grooming would make sense to someone on a tight schedule, with a lot of work, multiple horses, and other commitments.

                                But I do like seeing all the little dings and bumps and noticing for myself that hey, I might want to pull that mane. And when she does have something wrong, its nice being able to know what "normal" is for her.
                                A Year In the Saddle

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                                • #17
                                  I've never had a groom, although if this service was available where I boarded I would use it on occassion. Mostly on those hot day that by the time you ever pick out the feet your sweaty and you haven't even ridden yet.

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                                  • #18
                                    I'm in ReSomething's situation. Taking lessons on horses not my own.

                                    The horses are very well cared for and the staff does the grooming and tacking/untacking both to make the lessons start on time and to ensure a consistent quality of care.

                                    But qualified students get to the barn early and help with grooming and tacking and can take care of the horse once we leave the ring as long as the horse isn't used for another lesson right away.

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                                    • #19
                                      If I could afford full service for my DD's horse and ponies I would do it but we keep ours at home and I don't have the $$ or enough work to employ someone full time - so much of the time DD does it on her own. I will say during the week - unless it is raining they aren't particularly clean as she has three to ride after school, before dark and before her homework, but we do try to give them all a good grooming at the weekend. When we are showing - I will pay for our trainer's groom to help us - though more often than not, I am the one doing ringside as the barn generally takes only one groom and the other girls are not as self sufficient as we are.

                                      I do have help mucking our barn since that would be a little more work than my DD can currently manage with her riding/school work schedule and my work schedule.

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                                      • #20
                                        The barn where DD rides does have grooming, but this is an extra cost that I do not pay for. If DD is riding multiple horses for the trainer on a school day then the grooms will help get another horse ready for her. I will sometimes let DD have the grooms do her horse after she rides if she has to get home to study for a test. Most of the time she does all grooming herself. When DD works at the barn on Saturdays one of her jobs is to groom for others that pay for full care.

                                        At horseshows we do use a groom and pay the extra for that.

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