Monday, June 23, 2014

The Ground Crew

I haven't spent much time recently extolling the virtues of having really (really, really) good grooms.  Last year (at the same show) was my first experience with "full grooming." and since then I've opted to have full grooming at about half the shows depending on how crazy of a schedule it is and/or if there is lots of fun stuff to be doing (ie: Thermal and watching the big horses jump the big things)...

All said and done, full grooming is pretty effing spectacular... if you've got great grooms.  My current theory is if you've got people you trust, who do things correctly, how you want them, and have good horsey observation skills - it is money exceedingly well spent.

However, if you end up repositioning your saddle, switching bits, or re-wrapping your horse... then it probably isn't.  Fortunately for us, we've got an insanely talented head groom who works at the farm and oversees all the show grooming which keeps things running smoothly when we're on the road.  On top of that, the barn consistently hires the same 2-3 extra guys at shows so we know who we're getting and the guys know the horses too.

For me, there have been only two drawbacks to full grooming - the first is that every once in a while tack gets misplaced or swapped - but I've learned how to mitigate that by doing a thorough inventory check in my trunk and just hopping on any missing items as soon as possible.  Also, I've tagged the shit out of everything. girths, boots, pads... EVERYTHING.  I can't imagine trying to keep 14 set of nearly identical t-boots straight.. so I try to not be super OCD, but it's hard for me...

The second drawback, which I don't really have a solution for - is that I miss some of the "process" of getting myself ready, sensing what kind of day the mare is having, etc.  I really enjoy grooming and the early morning prep along with afternoon baths is just part of what "showing" means to me.

Of course this drawback comes with inherent benefits like... not scrambling to get ready, not forgetting things (like gloves, or martingales..), and not transferring my nerves to the mare... etc. etc.

So far this is one of those absurd 1% problems that I sorta ignore and just make an effort to connect with the mare a bit before classes some other way.  (The Boy has informed me that it's not charming to whine that you don't get enough pony play time when you have really excellent grooms helping you out... he is probably right).

But really, what I wanted to write about is how awesome our guys are, and how much confidence I have in their abilities.  Not only does Prair end up turned out like a champion, but I get great regular feedback from them letting me know if she's drinking less water... seemed extra sleepy (or spooky) or whatever.  Things I would notice about my own horse, and really appreciate hearing that someone else is paying attention too.

Also, it's cool to see Prair establish a relationship with the guys.  Sure sometimes they are making her work hard in the Equicore on a lunge line... but most of the time they are simply doting on her, dispensing cookies and helping the mare stay calm and comfortable whether it's ringside or in her stall.

In fact, she must love the guys, because she lets them do all sorts of things to her that I would get a stinky mare eye for (like washing her face, trimming her ears... etc.).  I figure she doesn't let just anyone soap her up like this:

there is ZERO chance I would get away with this move...
Also, I appreciate that my Trainer maintains a great relationship with all the Grooms.  She treats them respectfully, always thanks them for their work and makes sure they get plenty of recognition when we have big wins.  Since the trails were so fabulous at this last facility, she even had them taking all the horses out to keep them loose and stretched out.  I can't think of another barn where I've seen the trainers trust their guys (or the horses, lol) enough to encourage such things.

Prair out on the trail with one of her guys.
All in all, two (or three!) weeks of showing is a much more relaxed, enjoyable process with the right team in place.

And I love knowing that I have a great team of pros when we want them, and a great husband to help bathe and hold bags/treats/horses when we don't.  :)


  1. I've only had a groom once or twice in my life and it was nice.. but I also felt so useless!! haha

    I bet that it is a life saver at the multi days and big shows :)

  2. Sounds a lot like having a great crew in endurance. You can manage just fine without, but man is it better with them! You sound like you are enjoying the experience even with being sidelined for now.

  3. What a fab team to be able to work with

  4. Wow I'm shocked she let them soap her face up like that!! Is that some kind of tearless shampoo like they use for babies? I hate getting shampoo in my eyes.. it's awful!! I actually just don't wash my horse's face...... that's probably bad lol.

    Your team sounds amazing! I love the picture of her groom riding her out on the trail. So fun!


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