Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024

Blogger Lauren Donahoo

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It is with a heavy heart that I will not be in attendance at “my boy’s” tribute ceremony this evening at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Florida. As always in the horse industry, our priorities fall to horse management and responsibilities over our social calendars with predictable and sad frequency.

Calecto V is truly a horse who will forever stay with me, and taught me so much while I was lucky enough to be employed by him. Tina was involved in there somewhere, too…

They are our mascot, our loyal follower, the life of the party, the team’s cheerleader and companion. You’ll find them asleep in the tack room, under the truck (despite your repeated encouragement otherwise), or ringside in the shade…or anywhere you are, if we’re honest. They are the kings and queens of the rig, have their own personal seats and pillows, travel hours and miles beyond your average couch-bound canine.

This is my tribute to one of the universal favorites; the barn dog.

Wearing many hats is the short summary of a groom’s job description. We are caretakers, personal assistants, technicians, chauffeurs, and babysitters—just to name a few. Being a multi-tasker is an appreciated skill in most every job field across the world.

It’s never a surprise that in the middle of any big challenge, at some point you ask, “Why am I doing this again?” or the not-so-casual, completely-exasperated, end-of-your-wits exclamation: “People do this for fun?!”

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For some time a favorite motto of mine, recited by me and at me by supportive friends and family, is “make it happen”. It started years ago when dreaming with a friend became a framework for an outlandish goal. Though the goal has since changed, the slogan immediately adopted into “go make it happen” to motivate me.

Tis the season for being thankful, so here goes! A rundown of the things that make a groom (or any horse owner!) very happy indeed...

White horses that bypass rolling for grazing

Coffee

Detangled tails

Hind leg straps with working parts

Caffeine

Wool coolers

Velcro that cooperates

Braids that stay in

Homemade cookies

 

One of my favorite old adages that I try to employ every day is “to treat others how you’d like to be treated.” I particularly embrace this mentality when gift shopping, and I had particular success when my groom became a groom.

Ever since attending the USDF/USEF Young Rider Graduate Program, I have been intrigued by the advice given to be prepared to “give back." We've been told that your sponsors will want to know, your supporters will want to know, your fans will want to know—how do you “Give Back?” What does that even mean?

What I was encouraged to figure out was that if you expect others to support you in your “paying dues,” how will you support the industry and “pay it forward?” If someone else is handing you the ticket you need, who is receiving their necessary ticket from you?

Even as a wee tot, I prepared to become a professional groom. I shined and combed my Breyer collection and herd of stick horses (not kidding) to perfection. I was totally ready to be a Professional Pony Brusher. Since I was 7, my Christmas list may not have changed (No. 1 item... Real Horse), but my knowledge of horses and the professionals that surround them has immensely.

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