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What is a groom?

Grooms are an integral part of the equestrian industry, with their primary responsibility being to care for the horses. The role is varied and there are many opportunities in a wide variety of different industry sectors, from riding schools to international competition yards. Your equine career with horses might see you start in one area and then move into another, depending on where your own interests lie.

While many grooms choose to develop their careers predominantly based on the yard, others may have the desire to travel to shows and become competition grooms.

The role of a competition groom includes everything from the day-to-day care of the horse, to the travelling to competitions and preparing the horses for the event. As an integral part of a rider's support team, grooms are often the primary source of care, working closely with their rider to ensure that the horses are performing at their best.

At elite level, competition grooms get the opportunity to travel the world, work with top-level competition horses and proudly represent their country.

Whatever sector and level you're working at, being a groom offers an exciting and varied career with lots of long-term opportunities. It can be a physically demanding job, but also an exceptionally rewarding one, giving you the opportunity to work with some amazing horses and people, and make life-long friends.

The British Grooms Association (BGA), one of the Member Bodies of British Equestrian, is the professional body for people who work with horses. As a member, you’ll receive dedicated support, career advice and a range of membership benefits. 

How to become a groom

There are many ways to become a groom through training, or study. Some pathways to consider are...

Learning on the job

Many yards and riders don’t require grooms to have any qualifications, instead valuing experience and horsemanship. This can be an ideal pathway for someone who already has a basic set of equine skills to develop and is looking for a role on a busy competition yard. 

Equine apprenticeships

An apprenticeship is a job with an accompanying skills development programme under an Apprenticeship Agreement. It allows the apprentice to gain the technical knowledge and real practical experience, along with functional and personal skills, required for their immediate job and future career. There are plenty of opportunities for apprenticeships on competition yards if you're interested in working your way up to become a top-level competition groom. 

British Horse Society / Association of British Riding Schools

The British Horse Society (BHS) has a wide range of nationally recognised qualifications, including the BHS Groom Pathway for those wishing to pursue a career, from a foundation groom through to a stable manager. The pathway can be taken through BHS-approved centres. Likewise, the Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS) also offers training and qualifications.

College / University

More formal training can be accessed through one of the many land-based specialist further or higher education colleges. Training in colleges takes place predominantly in the classroom and on the college yard, plus some visits to yards or expert guest lectures. Qualifications vary in their content of practical, hands-on, content and theory, and you'll need to seek advice from the college on which type of qualification will suit your needs and what type of employment you'll be looking for once you've graduated. 

Distance Learning

Distance learning is based on independent study rather than attending a classroom. You'll have the opportunity to study at home at times that suit you in order to gain the theory knowledge for professional work. However, there is absolutely no alternative but to gain practical skills as well if you aim to work with horses in a professional capacity. It's vital to get some kind of training for the practical skills from a professional. If you need more practical experience, then why not consider volunteering at a local riding school or centre to develop your equine skills.