I’ve had a few people ask me what an average day for me is like (Mom), and request that I write about it on here (Mom). So here it goes, the average day of a groom at LC Horse Farms for your reading pleasure.
6:30 am- wake up and get dressed as quickly as you can to avoid the morning chill. Eat something, and by…
7am- be walking to the barn (a grand total of 25 ft away). Our first tasks in the morning are to feed (but usually this has been done by the head groom earlier); one person goes out to the ‘yards’ where there is another 10 horses to feed them, then we look at the turn out list and begin moving horses into the paddocks. To do this, we grab a halter and a lead rope from the tack room, go to whichever horse we’re turning out at the moment, take off their heavy overnight coat and the fleece underneath that and replace it with a outdoor blanket. Then their feet are picked and the halter is put on. This process is repeated until all the horses (9) are put outside to their allotted paddocks for the day. After doing this task, we move onto putting some of the remaining horses on the walker. 4 horses go on at a time- mares with mares, geldings with geldings, and studs by themselves. There are usually 8-10 horses that go on the walker each day for 20-40 minutes depending on if their being ridden or not. After the majority of the horses in the barn have been moved somewhere, the mucking out begins. There is approximately 20 stalls to be cleaned out. They all get one wheel barrel of fresh shavings put in after being cleaned- at least. Once the stalls are mucked, the barn is blown out with the leaf blower, then swept. The yards surrounding the stables are raked free of any excess hay or shavings and whatnot, and all the horses that are inside get a slice of hay. While all this is going on, Kyle and Megan are tacking up and grooming their own horses to ride. This brings us to..
9:30am (approximately)- The grooms take a coffee break. Yay more food!
9:50am (approx.)- Back to work. Usually by now the head groom has written up what she would like each of us to accomplish in the day. All the waterers in the barn need to be cleaned out, horses hand walked, horses tacked up for Kyle/Megan, different rooms cleaned, various horses bathed/brushed/brought in/etc. Each of us is assigned different things to get done before or after lunch. After each horse is ridden, they need to be hand sponged to remove any sweat marks and then left to dry before you can groom them and put them back into their stall. Their feet are picked when they leave the stall, when they come back from a ride, and when they come in from the paddock. There are to be no sweat marks from the bridle left over on their head, or girth area. If the horse is sweaty after being ridden, it’s bathed. Each groom usually gets assigned 1-2 horses per day to ride or lunge or both. This fits into our assigned tasks.
By 12:30 (usually ends up being at least 1pm)- all horses (including the outdoor ones) should have been fed their lunch (once slice of hay and grain), the feedroom and tack room swept along with the cross ties and wash stalls. Once the barn is organized and clean, we go for lunch (sometimes to the beach) until..
2pm- This is a continuation of the morning tasks. Riding, grooming, cleaning, organizing, grooming, bringing in horses, cleaning horses, taking off blankets, putting on different blankets, etc etc. Myself and another groom have recently been given the job of horse ‘physios’. Between the hours of 2pm and 4pm we each have 7-10 horses to massage and stretch (about 15-20 minutes is spent on each horse). These are the things we focus on in that time:
- Mouth exercise- Use on of three points- top gums, tongue or lower gums. They should be fighting and moving their mouths in a variety of directions, follow the movement with your body, do not block if they want to turn one way or another. Alternate the side of the horse you stand on every other day. Grinding teeth is very good! 45 seconds. This helps the horse to stretch out the muscles at the top of their head, neck and in their jaw.
- Massage TMJ joint (along the jaw bone and down the cheek starting under ears) 30 secs each side.
- Head on shoulder- Place lower jaw of horse on your shoulder and let them drop their weight on to you. Do not pull their head down. Alternate sides every other day. 30 seconds. This stretches out the muscles up their jaw and down their neck.
- Cat Claw down neck muscles (1 min each side), and down shoulder muscles (1 min each side). The horse usually tells you how hard to press based on their reaction. Grinding teeth and moving head lower to the ground in a relaxed manner= good. Pinning ears, tensing, and eyeing you up = bad. Each horse has a different preference. This brings circulation to the muscles and removes any toxin build up.
- Fetlock stretch- hold foot up like picking out hoof, holding just the toe. Fell where the horse wants to put this and t hen hold 45sec each side allowing gravity to stretch the muscles gently down. Will work first in lower leg, then upper leg, then shoulder, wither, and into back.
- Shoulder stretch- gently pull horses leg forward until extended straight, hold the toe of the hoof just off the ground (5-10cm) and let gravity pull the weight down and stretch itself (45sec each side).
- Upper Shoulder/Neck Stretch- Gently pull leg back until hoof vertical, then keep hoof 5cm off ground and let gravity stretch travel through the forearm into lower neck.
- Wither Stretch- Gently put finger nail into girth area under stomach pushing up until horse raises it’s back through it’s withers, hold 2sec then release. Then go to wither and run fingernails down spine to push muscles back down. Repeat 5x. With this and the next stretch, be aware the horse will think your finger nail on it’s underbelly is a large bug and will try and kick you off. If possible, keep the pressure on until they put all 4 feet on the ground and then release so they learn that kicking doesn’t equal you buggering off.
- Back Stretch- Gently push fingernails into middle of bottom of stomach until back noticeably raises. Then move to top of back and run fingernails alongside the spine to push back down gently again. Repeat 5x.
- Croup Massage- Cat claw through croup muscles (top of butt). This is a very sensitive muscle on a lot of horses, so adjust pressure accordingly. 1 min each side.
- Croup Stretch- Run fingernail down side of croup gently (you’ll know the trigger point when you find it) getting horse to raise it’s pelvis. 5x each side.
- Hip Massage- Toughly run fingers in 30cm circle around hip joint. Direction very important, the top of circle should always go towards the tail (with the hair). At the top of the circle, the horse should drop down through hip, at bottom should be lifting hip. Repeat 5x each side.
- Hind leg forward stretch- same as front shoulder stretch except using back leg.
- Hind leg reverse stretch- Same as upper shoulder/neck stretch for front legs.
- Tail Stretch- Pull tail gently straight back from horse for 5 sec, then release quickly and watch ‘shockwave’ travel up horse’s body- note where it stops as that is where there is still a muscle block. Repeat 3x. This is a big evaluation for where problems lie for future sessions.
- *For mares only* Ovary Pain Release- ‘punch’ horse from shoulder to hind quarters everywhere to reduce sensitivity, then pat (watch for grinding teeth or a deep breath to show release of tension (actually works- who knew)). Repeat 3x each side. Find the last rib, massage with gentle cat claws down the rib to stifle area. 20sec or until no discomfort. The connection between the last rib and the hip is what causes pain and inflammation. Notice the inflamed band across the upper stifle in horses that are very sensitive- this is often mistaken for a muscle. Often one side will be bigger then the other.