When we're as busy as we are at the moment, we inevitably get asked why we don't have multiple grooms, and how we manage without them. We love that people care, and the truth is that there are multiple reasons.
One of those reasons is pictured.
Horses for us are non profit. We don't take a wage and we deliberately make sure that our prices are as low as possible for people to afford our help when they need it.
Grooms are often paid less than they could make working in a supermarket, for one of the most physically and mentally draining jobs out there. We decided that if we were ever going to have a groom, we would be paying them a lot more, and we wouldn't take someone on until we knew that we could do that. As said previously, we don't take a wage so we knew that we would be paying a groom more than we earn, but it wasn't a point that we were willing to change our minds on.
What people expect from their grooms is always amazing to us too. It's not just the riding that makes horse training specialised work. We hope to help 'problem horses' and backers with groundwork, to set them up for a solid education. We have had horses in who are difficult to lead or catch, or who bite and kick. It's not only our job to over come these issues, we also can't be endangering anyone else. You can't be expecting a groom to take on a job that you've signed up for. So we are the only people who ride the client horses, and there are some that we wouldn't even let other people handle. That's because we're the ones who are paid on a daily basis to ride and train the client horses, so in a lot of ways, we don't have enough work for a groom, because it's unfair on said groom and our clients to be asking them to do our job.
It's a hard job, and you see these posts expecting grooms to do more and more for less and less pay, acting like they should be grateful for the chance to work with horses, but honestly, where is their incentive? Where is the incentive to work every hour under the sun and be treated like just a small cog in a big machine? When they are finished at your yard, are they going to be a nobody while you are a yard owner with a great reputation based on their work just as much as your own? Or will they be valued team members who have earned experience but haven't had to live of beans and toast while they do? As yard owners, it's our duty to give fair pay. If we can't do that, we shouldn't be taking the extra help!
So around two years ago, we were thinking of offering up a couple of hours of mucking out in the morning and evening, because it was all the work we really had to give at the amount that we wanted to be sure that we could pay.
Dan pipes up and said he'd do it as well as his job, before and after school. Dan's been more involved than most husbands from the beginning, but he got more and more of an affinity with them when he helped us at shows and on the weekends. He got used to mucking out around them, ducking the odd hoof when haying the herd up in the field, and he just loved them. He would chat to them while he was hanging haynets, and spend extra time cuddling as he changed rugs. It seemed pretty ideal.
Ideal was an understatement. He has pride in this place because it's his home too. He knows that our reputation is important to us, so he would never do a shoddy job. He loves his babies, so he makes sure they have big fluffy and beds, but at the same time doesn't want to be costing us more in bedding, so he takes the time and care to muck out well enough not to waste clean bedding. He Always has treats in his pockets, Always. He cares as much about what we do as we do, and he clocks far more hours than we pay him for.
We're a family run business, so it's not just that we run it from our home, it's that these guys who you see when you pick up or drop off your horses, or who you can see in the background of our videos, they run it too. They are the people responsible for building our stables, planting trees, driving the lorry, hanging gates, painting and repairing fences... Well it's a long list.
We'll be over here raising a glass to the team behind the name and you can do the same! Thank everyone who has helped you get to where you are, because no one can really say that they've done everything on their own anyway, but more importantly - who wants to? Nothing that we have ever achieved has been more important than the people we've achieved it with!
Thank your grooms, thank your mum, dad, chiropractor and friends, thank your photographer, thank your supporters, thank the people who show up for you and never give up on you!
Thank everyone who has got you where you are, because you didn't do it alone and because more people will want to be a part of that journey if you show that you share it with people!