Horse Groom

The Job and What's Involved

racehorse groomingHorse grooms care for and look after horses on a daily basis to ensure that they remain healthy, happy and in good condition.
Jobs vary but the main tasks are usually:

  • Keeping the horses clean and well fed, filling hay nets and water buckets, measuring feed and any supplements required.
  • Replacing bedding.
  • Leading horses from their stables to the fields and back.
  • Preparing them for riding, competitions and shows.
  • Cleaning and brushing the horses' coats.
  • Tacking up the horses (putting on saddles and bridles) and untacking them after riding.
  • Cleaning the tack.
  • Checking for signs that an animal is unwell, reporting any problems and treating minor ailments and injuries.
  • Mucking out stables, sweeping the yard and stacking feed and bedding.
  • Keeping records of vaccinations, worming and shoeing.
  • Removing droppings, weeds and litter from fields.

Some grooms also exercise the horses or school them over obstacles.

Horse grooms work closely with stable or yard managers. A horse groom who works with racehorses or competition yards may prepare the horse for the event and also attend the event.

Horse grooms working in riding schools may welcome visitors and lead riders out on foot or horseback.

Horse grooms work around 40 hours a week, but may work longer on occasions. There may be early mornings, late nights and weekend working. Part-time, seasonal and casual work is often available. Most of the work is outdoors in all weather conditions. Work can involve lifting, carrying, bending, climbing and standing for long periods. Stables can be dusty.

There is a risk of injury from horse bites, kicks or falling off a horse. Stables can be a long way from towns, sometimes in quite remote areas, so a driving licence may be useful.

Some jobs involve traveling and staying away from home, for example, during competitions.

Grooms usually wear a hard hat, riding boots and body protector while they are on horseback.

Starting salaries are usually in line with the national minimum wage. Experienced grooms may earn around £12,000 to £14,000 a year. Salaries for head grooms may be around £14,000 to £20,000 a year.

Some employers provide accommodation, food, free stabling for their employees' horses and riding instruction.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Grooms work throughout the UK. Employers include riding schools, private stables, competition yards, colleges offering equine courses, polo yards, livery stables, stud yards, hunting yards, trekking centres, horse rehabilitation centres and the armed forces.

Vacancies are advertised in publications such as Horse and Hound and Horse and Rider. They are also advertised on the internet, including on the websites of The British Horse Society (BHS) and specialist employment agencies.

Education and Training

No academic qualifications are needed to become a horse groom, but a real interest in and enthusiasm for working with horses is very important. Any experience of working with horses, as a volunteer or from work experience, is useful.

Qualifications can be helpful, though, and they include:

  • BTEC First Certificate and Diploma in horse care.
  • City& Guilds/NPTC Level 1 Certificate in equine skills and Level 2 National Certificate in horse care.
  • BHS Stage 1 and 2 in Horse Knowledge and Care.
  • Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS) Preliminary Horse Care and Riding Certificate or Groom's Certificate.
  • British Horseracing Education and Standards Trust (BHEST) Certificates in horse care.

The Diploma in environmental and land-based studies may be relevant for this area of work.

It may be possible to train through an Apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Most of the training is on the job, working with a more experienced groom. Some employers may encourage grooms to attend college or a training centre to learn additional skills and theory.

They may work towards:

  • BHS qualifications, which include Stages 2, 3 and 4 Horse Knowledge and Care as well as teaching qualifications.
  • The ABRS Groom's Certificate and Groom's Diploma.
  • NVQ's in horse care at Levels 1 and 2 and horse care and management at Level 3.
  • City & Guilds/NPTC Level 3 Advanced National Certificate and Diploma in horse management.
  • BHEST Intermediate or Advanced Certificate in horse care.

Apprentice grooms work towards an NVQ in horse care at Level 2. Advanced Apprentices work towards an NVQ at Level 3.

Grooms may also become members of the British Grooms Association and, through this, complete an Equine Skills CV as a record of achievement.

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You may use life saving skills as part of your day-to-day work.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Horse grooms should:

  • Be knowledgeable about the care of horses.
  • Be able to ride to a reasonably high standard.
  • Be aware of health and safety issues.
  • Have stamina and fitness.
  • Have the ability to work alone and also as part of a team.
  • Be willing to undertake routine, practical tasks.

Your Long Term Prospects

Experienced grooms may become head grooms. Grooms wanting to become riding instructors can take BHS or ABRS teaching qualifications.

There are also opportunities to work and train abroad.

Get Further Information

Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS),
Queen's Chambers, 38-40 Queen Street,
Penzance TR18 4BH
Tel: 01736 369440
Website: www.abrs-info.org

British Dressage,
Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth CV8 2RJ
Tel: 02476 698830
Website: www.britishdressage.co.uk

British Equestrian Federation,
Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth CV8 2RH
Tel: 02476 698871
Website: www.bef.co.uk

British Grooms Association (BGA),
PO Box 592, London KT12 9ER
Tel: 0845 331 6039
Website: www.britishgrooms.org.uk

The British Horse Society (BHS),
Stoneleigh Deer Park, Kenilworth CV8 2XZ
Tel: 0844 848 1666
Website: www.bhs.org.uk

British Horseracing Education and Standards Trust (BHEST),
Suite 16, Unit 8, Kings Court,
Willie Snaith Road, Newmarket CB8 7SG
Tel: 01638 560743
Websites: www.bhest.co.uk and www.racingtoschool.co.uk

Horsehero, PO Box 72, GL8 8GQ
Website: www.horsehero.com

Lantra, Lantra House, Stoneleigh Park,
Coventry, Warwickshire CV8 2LG
Tel: 0845 707 8007
Websites: www.lantra.co.uk and www.afuturein.com

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