Groom vs Riding/Training - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 08-30-2013, 04:53 AM Thread Starter
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Groom vs Riding/Training

On the hunt for a new job and I've noticed a trend that wasn't there two years ago when I lasted went a-hunting.

Jobs listed as groom or stable hand or what have you, most of them groundwork only, but then a heap of them are wanting a groom who will do all the groundwork AND ride, exercise or even TRAIN their horses. For exactly the same or LESS pay. One even required grooms to have a full set of PC certs. Not saying everyone is like this, but most PC kids I've met were real snobs with a big fat sense of entitlement and no work ethic.

I'm not a perfect rider, and I've mostly never had a real lesson, picked up most of my ground skills off a TB breaker I did work experience with. I have started horses for friends and family before, but a lot of the work I did was on the ground, and at best they would have been trekking quality when they left me. Even some of the groundwork only jobs have been asking how well I ride, and it's getting frustrating.

I have great work ethic, a bunch of good references from old bosses, my most recent grazing owner and my current vet. Also have a clean HT license (can drive horse trucks up to a certain size, the really big ones I need the next class which I can get it in about 2 seconds if required but trucks that size aren't common so never bothered with it). And yet all these people want to know is if I can school their horses for them!? I probably could DO the riding jobs, but I'm VERY jump shy due to some bad falls and I just don't like my riding to be under constant pressure or scrutiny. It's why I don't compete, and quite frankly the equal pay (which is basically minimum legal wage here because of the hours) for ground only vs ground + riding is an insult. It's happening in a lot of other areas too, people doing more work for the exact same pay as someone doing a lot less work (because schooling a horse or even just exercising a horse daily is a LOT of extra work).

Just feeling a little left out and down right now, so let's hear it for the poo pickers!

Also, what do you guys think? Do you consider a "Groom" to be a rider or a humble poo picker and holder-of-horses?
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post #2 of 10 Old 08-30-2013, 05:36 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: North Dakota, USA
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I don't know where you're at but around here, stable hands just do stuff around the stable, such as muck stalls, clean barn areas, feed and water horses, and turn them out and bring them in. They may hold a horse for a boarder or help the boarder with getting the horse. I don't know of any that groom or work the horses. Usually they do get paid minimum amounts but then they don't need much experience.

I wouldn't train or work with a horse for minimum wage. Having spent time learning and having experience should count for something more than just minimum. The only way I would do it if I was desperate for a job.
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post #3 of 10 Old 08-30-2013, 06:56 AM
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Location: Ontario
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Groom is a fancy word for barn slave. Because the pay is often poor the demand is high. Gradually more and more is asked of the slave until it works out to less than min. wage.

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post #4 of 10 Old 08-30-2013, 07:03 AM
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Central Western NSW, Australia
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Sometimes, riding is tossed under the groom title. I was once offered a live-in polo groom position, but declined because of how far I would have to move and the horrible pay, but the job would have involved exercising 5 horses every morning (riding one, leading the others).

But the whole minimum wage thing sucks and is sadly very common. If I recall correctly, my sister was earning around $400 a week, often working more than 8 hours a day, 6 days a week at a pony stud, just mucking out and feeding basically.

As for why riding would earn even less, many people think of riding as an added privilege. It's similar to how you earn a lot less if it's a live in position, or if you can bring your own horse and get free agistment.
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post #5 of 10 Old 08-30-2013, 07:04 AM Thread Starter
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Haha, yeah, I learned that a while back but I enjoy the work and have no social life so I guess I don't mind. Just have issues with a major increase in workload for same pay and there being no place for someone who can't ride outside of racing.
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post #6 of 10 Old 08-30-2013, 07:18 AM
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I can only speak from my point of view as a polo groom, though I started as a teen with STBs and TBs. I, and the ones I know, do it all. Muck, drive the trailers, clean the tack, exercise, and school. A few polo grooms, admittedly very few, are even rated players.

Pay seems to vary based on where you are located/home based and for whom you work. I groom part-time and only during our local season and am happy with what I make from it. One of my daughters grooms full-time, travels when needed, and is making a nice wage and saving for college.

Grooms I know love their work and the majority own a house near their home base city or town.

Hope you find something suitable.
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post #7 of 10 Old 08-30-2013, 07:23 AM Thread Starter
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Tracer - minimum wage here for a live-in job (roughly, since the min. wage is only calculated hourly + a rent allowance/removal that's half urban market rent in some places) works out around $500 /wk (vs unemployment benefit @ $200-ish /wk). Some of them are downright **** pay, but I've never really had trouble finding horsey work at a decent wage. Even now I've got some interviews lined up, I was just a little shocked at how much the riding groom positions have exploded.

I have worked in polo before though and they were paying me **** well to basically feed out, cover and gallop 9 horses (ride & lead 2) as they were all grass kept; and then a game every second weekend in summer. Of all my horsey jobs, that was probably my favourite. Guess it all depends on where you are and who you work for though. Maybe you should move to NZ. :P

I don't really mind minimum wage though, even with the rural gas bill + a few hire purchase & credit cards to pay off, I was never short of cash. Add in urban market rent though, and I'd be living off noodles like a student. XD It's always the same argument though - minimum wage workers (the ones who actually do nothing like lazy **** checkout kids) want it put up, so employees start combining jobs to get twice the work for the same amount.
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post #8 of 10 Old 08-30-2013, 10:05 AM
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: MN, USA
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I haven't seen groom positions offered that include riding before, no. I understand, though...why not get an educated horse person who may be more attentive to changes in the horses and able to do more than someone who isn't in the equine world, but pay the same. Not saying it's fair, just that I understand.

I have worked in positions that meant both "groom" duties and training duties, but I wasn't hired as just a groom. Though I was paid diddly squat regardless. ;)
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post #9 of 10 Old 08-30-2013, 10:48 AM Thread Starter
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So, just because I don't want to ride I'm uneducated? That I don't care about the horses I work with enough to notice if they're injured or off their feed?
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post #10 of 10 Old 08-30-2013, 04:01 PM
Join Date: Aug 2013
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Originally Posted by noddy View Post
So, just because I don't want to ride I'm uneducated? That I don't care about the horses I work with enough to notice if they're injured or off their feed?
No, that's not what I was trying to say. I apologize for coming off that way, I didn't proofread this morning! I was trying to compare someone that knows horses, potentially how to ride, as I was thinking of a barn of riding horses specifically, vs a physically capable person who wasn't involved with horses prior. I know that train of thought didn't cover all options - I can't multitask well.

I have nothing but respect for quality grooms. I have had a lot of fun doing it myself and gotten to work with some wonderful people. By no means do I think someone not wanting to ride for their groom job equals uneducated, inattentive, or careless, either. Sorry again!
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