Unless you keep your horse on full or part livery, it is so important to know a good groom. Whether it’s for holiday cover or last minute emergencies. It’s great to have someone you know and trust to be able to come and look after your horse for you.
What about friend favours?
Lots of smaller yards work by everyone doing each other favours. If you are on one of these yards, then that is fantastic! But everyone needs different levels of help and favours. People may not always be around to do you a favour. So it’s important that you have someone else you can call on.
On my yard we tend to buddy up in pairs. We then help each other with bringing in, turning out etc. But not everyone has time to help with mucking out, expecially during the week with work. So when we are on holiday, we typically get our fantastic local groom to come and muck out for us. Then our buddies help with the turning in and out.
How to find a freeland groom?
First things first, if you don’t have your horses at home or on a sole use yard, you should check with the yard owner/manager what the protcol is. Even in DIY yards, they might offer these services and you might not be allowed to get someone else in. Or they might already know a freelance groom they want you to use, to limit the number of people having access to the yard. In my experience, if the yard owner/manager doesn’t offer services themselves, they are usually happy for you to choose who else you bring in.
Ask friends for recommendations
The horse world is small! Ask others on your yard or other horsey friends in the local area if they know of anyone who freelances as a groom. Ask for recommendations on them from people you trust. If you are struggling to find anyone through your friends, asking on local horsey Facebook groups can be another way to get recommendations. This is a good time to ask about things such as their experience handling difficult or sensitive horses. Or how reliable they are.
Reaching out to a freelance groom
Once you have found a freelance groom you like the sound of, it is time to reach out to them. But first, think about what you need them for. Are you just looking for some occasional holiday cover? Or are you looking for more regular help, such as full care the 2 days a week you are in the office? This will most likely be one of their first questions to you, so make sure you know what you want!
When you reach out to them, whether it’s a message or over the phone, let them know where you heard about them. Some grooms are very busy and can be picky about who they take on as clients. They might reach out to your friend for some feedback on you and your horse. Ask them if they are looking for new clients and mention the type of cover you are looking for.
If they are able to do the type of cover you are looking for, now is the time to ask for their prices. They might need more information, such as your yard location for this. You should also use this time to check that they are insured. If an accident happened while they were looking after your horse, you could be liable or your horse might not be covered if they do not have their own professional insurance.
If you are both happy with everything, then the next step is to arrange a time for them to meet you at the yard.
First yard visit
The first time you meet at the yard, it is all about showing them where everything is and introducing them to your horse. If your horse is particularly senstive, you might ask to see them lead your horse or pick out their feet for example. But if your horse is straightforward and you have heard good things from friends, I am usually satisfied with seeing them say hello to the horse over the stable door.
Make sure you show them all the important things they need to know. What field and stable is theirs. Where their hay, feed, rugs and first aid kit is etc. Basically make sure they know where all the tools and equipement they might need is.
This is also a good time to let them know your horses normal routine. Depending on your yard, you might also need to explain the yards routine. For example, on our yard, we need to negotiate bring in and turn out times with other owners to make sure that no horse is out by itself. You don’t need to go into full details yet of all their supplements, vet details etc, just a brief overview before you both decide on a start date. We have a great download to help you organise everything your groom needs to know while you are away.
I have a fantastic freelance groom I use for Scottie. She is local and is usually at the yard once a week helping us with one of our horses. She is very flexible and is often available at short notice. It works really well for us.
Last Updated on 28/07/2023