How to become a Horse Groom. Read through our comprehensive job guide to learn more about this career.
What does a Horse Groom do?
Horse grooms, sometimes known as stable lads/girls or stable hands, look after horses, making sure they are healthy and in good condition.
As a groom, you would:
- provide food and water for horses
- replace bedding
- clean equipment such as saddles and bridles (‘tack’)
- clean, brush and sometimes clip, horses’ coats
- muck out stables
- check for changes in the horses’ condition and report problems
- treat minor wounds, change dressings and give medication
- follow instructions from vets when treatment is needed.
You may also be responsible for exercising the horses each day.
If you work with show jumpers or race horses, you will prepare them for events, and may accompany them. In studs and breeding yards you will work with stallions, mares and foals, and may help vets to deliver foals. In riding schools you may greet clients, lead riders out on foot, and accompany them on horseback.
You would usually work 40 hours a week, including early mornings, late nights and weekends. Overtime is often available, and you may be able to do part-time or casual work.
You would need to be prepared to work in cold, wet and muddy conditions, and would wear protective clothing and footwear.
You may be provided with accommodation, which may be quite basic.
How much does a Horse Groom earn?
Salary and pay information:
- Grooms can start at around £15,500 a year.
- Experienced grooms can earn around £19,000.
- Head lads/girls in a racing yard can earn £24,000 or more.
Some employers provide accommodation, food, free stabling for your own horse and riding lessons.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
You must be at least 16, and there may be weight restrictions for some jobs. Although you may not need qualifications, employers may prefer you to have experience, and some may ask for a nationally-recognised qualification such as:
- BTEC Level 2 Certificate and Diploma in Horse Care
- BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Horse Management
- British Horse Society (BHS) Stage 1 in Horse Knowledge and Care
- Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS) Preliminary Horse Care and Riding Certificate.
For BHS or ABRS qualifications you must be at least 16, and would usually need experience of handling and riding horses. Visit the BHS and ABRS websites for details.
You could get practical experience as a volunteer, for example helping out at a local stable. This could give you an advantage when looking for paid work.
You can train in race-horse care at the British Racing School in Newmarket and the Northern Racing College in Doncaster. You will not need riding experience to start, as there is a non-rider option up to NVQ level 2. However, most trainees do ride.
If you are interested in the horse breeding industry, you can train at the National Stud in Newmarket or at other training centres. See the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association website for details.
You may be able to get into this job through an Apprenticeship scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. To find out more about Apprenticeships, visit the Apprenticeships website.
Visit the British Horse Racing Board careers website for full details of careers in horse-racing and breeding.
Training and Development
You will usually receive on-the-job training when you start work as a horse groom. You can also work towards NVQ levels 1 and 2 in Horse Care and Level 3 in Horse Care and Management. From September 2010 the NVQs will be replaced by
- Level 2 Certificate and Diploma in Horse Care
- Level 3 Diploma in Horse ManagementYou can develop your skills by taking British Horse Society (BHS) and Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS) qualifications.
BHS qualifications include:
- BHS Horse Knowledge and Care and Riding Stages 2, 3 and 4
- BHS teaching and instructor qualifications.
Visit the BHS website for details of these qualifications.
- British Horse Society
ABRS qualifications include:
- ABRS Groom’s Certificate
- ABRS Groom’s Diploma.
Visit the ABRS website for details.
- Association of British Riding Schools
Skills and Knowledge
- good observational skills
- patience and willingness to do routine tasks
- awareness of health and safety issues
- the ability to work alone and as part of a team
- good communication skills
- competence in riding
- experience of looking after horses (you may not need this for some jobs).
You could be employed at a stud farm, riding and trekking centre, livery yard, racing yard, competition yard or in a more specialised business such as a horse rehabilitation centre. You may also be able to find work with a private owner.
With experience and further training, you could take charge of a yard or become head groom. In a racing yard, you could progress to head lad/girl, travelling head lad/girl and perhaps to assistant trainer or trainer.
On a stud farm, you could become a stud groom, stallion handler or stud manager. If you work in a riding stable you could complete BHS or ABRS teaching qualifications to become a riding instructor.