In Summary - Stablehand / Groom
The Work - Stablehand / Groom
Grooms care for horses, keeping them in good health and condition. Daily care of horses involves mucking out the stables, replacing bedding, providing fresh water, preparing feed and hay and giving it to the animals.
Grooms may also be responsible for the daily exercising of horses. After exercise, they usually groom the horses. While grooming, it is important to check for any changes in the horses' condition. Any animal that is unhealthy should be reported and will require special attention.
Grooms clean tack/harnesses and check equipment for repair. Sometimes they are also required to maintain the yard itself.
The work varies in different settings. For example, grooms employed by competition yards look after racehorses, show jumpers, eventers or dressage horses, preparing the horses for events and competitions and often accompanying them. In stud and breeding yards, grooms work with stallions or mares and foals.
Many grooms wish to become jockeys so this is a very good starting point. A small number of grooms employed by racing yards are selected for training as jockeys, if their riding is of a high enough standard.
There is a risk of injury therefore protective clothing and hard hats should be worn.
Most commonly reported Work Tasks
- Feed and water animals according to schedules and feeding instructions.
- Mix food, liquid formulas, medications, or food supplements according to instructions, prescriptions, and knowledge of animal species.
- Examine and observe animals to detect signs of illness, disease, or injury.
- Provide treatment to sick or injured animals, or contact veterinarians to secure treatment.
- Do facility laundry and clean, organize, maintain, and disinfect animal quarters, such as pens and stables, and equipment, such as saddles and bridles.
- Perform animal grooming duties such as washing, brushing, clipping, and trimming coats, cutting nails, and cleaning ears.
- Answer telephones and schedule appointments.
- Respond to questions from patrons, and provide information about animals, such as behavior, habitat, breeding habits, or facility activities.
- Order, unload, and store feed and supplies.
- Collect and record animal information such as weight, size, physical condition, treatments received, medications given, and food intake.
Most commonly reported Work Activities
- Handling and Moving Objects Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
- Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Performing General Physical Activities Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Assisting and Caring for Others Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Training and Teaching Others Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
Interests - Stablehand / Groom
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
Not surprisingly, some aspect of the natural sciences will run through the Naturalist's interests - from ecological awareness to nutrition and health. People with an interest in horticulture, land usage and farming (including fish) are Naturalists.
Some Naturalists focus on animals rather than plants, and may enjoy working with, training, caring for, or simply herding them. Other Naturalists will prefer working with the end result of nature's produce - the food produced from plants and animals. Naturalists like solving problems with solutions that show some sensitivity to the environmental impact of what they do. They like to see practical results and prefer action to talking and discussing.
Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.
Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
Looking after horses is hard physical work, demanding good health, stamina and fitness. It is not necessary to be an extremely competent rider, although a basic standard is often required.
Grooms need a love of horses and an aptitude for handling them. Good observational skills are needed to notice changes in the horse's condition. Practical hand skills, with attention to detail, are required.
Patience, willingness to work long hours, including early mornings, weekends and public holidays, while. You need to be comfortable with carrying out routine and repetitive tasks. Mucking out is dirty, smelly work. It is important to be prepared to work outdoors in all weather conditions.
You will need good spoken communication skills for talking to customers and vets and so on. Clear handwriting is required for tasks such as record-keeping. Basic arithmetic is also necessary for measuring feed and so on. A driving licence may be useful.
Entry Requirements - Stablehand / Groom
To become a racing groom candidates generally apply to be taken on as a trainee stablehand at a Stud farm where they learn the ropes from senior members of staff. No set qualifications are needed to begin work as a racing groom. You must be fit, as the work is very active, and includes carrying bales of hay.
The British Horse Society (BHS) provide a number of courses, some of which are run in Ireland that will provide internationally recognised qualifications in the equine industry. Personal applications can be made to any establishment that keeps horses. Advertisements seeking Grooms sometimes appear in the press, particularly farming publications.
SOLAS provide a traineeship programme to gain entry into this occupation. The Racing Groom Traineeship is a 30 week programme. The Traineeship consists of 20 weeks directed training with SOLAS and 10 weeks on-the-job training under the supervision of local racehorse trainers. This Traineeship is run in partnership with RACE (Racing Academy and Centre of Education) at the Curragh, Co. Kildare.
There are also QQI level 5 and level 6 PLC courses in Horsemanship offered nationwide equipping the learner with the knowledge, skill and competence to care for and maintain horses, providing a relevant foundation for this occupation.
Last Updated: March, 2015
Pay & Salary - Stablehand / Groom
Salary Range (thousands per year)* 18k - 24k
Last Updated: March, 2017
* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.
Labour Market Updates - Stablehand / Groom
Useful Contacts - Stablehand / Groom
Association of Irish Riding Establishments (AIRE)
British Horse Society (BHS)
Racing Academy & Centre of Education (RACE)