I’m currently working as a groom at an A-rated hunter-jumper show in southern Michigan. The days are long, the weather is rainy, the horses are naughty from a long winter inside, and I’m actually a dressage rider, so I use all my extra brain power trying to figure out how the heck a hunter/jumper show runs.

I just graduated college, so I had a relatively open schedule for the summer. When I told my mum the dates I wanted to work, she said, “Emilie, you don’t have to work if you don’t want to.” How do you convince someone that you want to wake up at insane hours, work in nasty weather conditions, and stay for unpredictable hours?

I started working A-rated hunter/jumper shows in the summer of 2014, where I worked shows in Michigan, Kentucky, and Indiana for two different trainers. I was invited to work for both of them again, so I guess I did a satisfactory job, even though I was honestly guessing what to do the entire time. I remember several situations where I forgot the horse’s number, left a martingale on before a flat class, or set a jump entirely crooked – but I managed to stay in my bosses’ good favor. However, I returned last summer and I was invited back for a third summer of groom work this summer.

I’m independent. I do what I want and I’m developing a certain feel for my equestrian skills and techniques. Why am I working under someone else’s rules? Truthfully, I love seeing the way that most A-rated barns care for their horses.

The farm I currently work for, Top Call Farm, truly pampers their horses. Horses are grazed daily, stalls cleaned at least twice a day, and horses ware who worked enjoy magnet treatment, special ice boot machine treatment, and are wrapped with Back on Track wraps. The horses are truly treated like the athletes they are, and it makes me feel as if the time I put into my work is truly ‘worth it.’

I love that the horses I wrap on a nightly basis are also rubbed down with some sort of cooling liniment on the daily. I think it’s really easy to forget just how athletic our horses are. Not only do they do their own impressive things as horses, they carry us along as they do it. Does anyone else think that’s insanely cool? Does anyone else realize just how undeserving we are of the athleticism of our equine friends? Does anyone else see how much we should pamper the equine athletes in our lives?

I don’t groom for the money, because I could make more at a 9-5 job. I don’t groom for time in the saddle, because I don’t ever ride. I don’t groom for resume experience, because I have no idea what I’m pursuing later in life.

I groom because these are the nicest horses I have ever touched. I groom because these horses are hard workers and I think they deserve great treatment. I groom because I love that these horses are treated like the true athletes that they are, and I completely respect their unknown dedication to the sport they were signed up for. I groom because I love being an equestrian.