It’s fantastic that you want to be a racing groom. We are certain that you will love your job – nothing beats working with racehorses.
To get you started, we’d encourage you to read this website. You will find lots of information on what the job is like and how racing grooms are supported. You can also create an account on our Hub where you can find industry news, get notifications on training courses, access special discounts for grooms and students, and create and save a CV to send to racehorse trainers if you are looking for work experience.
Arranging work experience is a good idea as, amongst many reasons, it helps you check that being a racing groom is the right job for you – and if it is, then your next step should be to contact the training providers and they can help you on your way.
As a new or existing racing groom, you can take advantage of a wide range of training courses to develop your skills and expertise in the racing industry. Additional qualifications will not only help you do your job better, but they will also help you to get paid more. As well as training for the Level 1, 2 and 3 Diplomas in Racehorse Care, the racing schools offer courses to help you become a yard manager, travelling groom or racing secretary and even a jockey or racehorse trainer. You will also have access to Racing2Learn, an online learning platform designed to offer extensive development opportunities to those wishing to further their skill set and learning. The Regional Staff Development Programme is another great facility provided to staff with a host of personal development opportunities, and often delivered at your place of work.
Racing grooms are lucky to have their minimum rates of pay set in an agreement between the National Trainers Federation and the National Association of Racing Staff. Racing is the only equestrian discipline where there is a minimum rate of pay agreement for grooms.
The minimum rates of pay are scaled by age and experience. They are only minimums, so you may find that employer will pay you more. Please see our section on pay for more information
Some racehorse trainers will have accommodation for their staff. This might either be in a hostel or in a shared house. Alternatively, you may have to find local housing yourself. If this is the case, speak to your employer first as they may be able to put you in touch with other staff so you can arrange a house share or local room rental. In the racing centres, Racing Welfare manage hostels for young staff and they may be able to advise staff on housing in other areas.
If you have an accident at work, on your way to work or if you are unable to return to work because of your injuries, racing grooms can get financial support from the Racing Industry Accident and Benefits Scheme (RIABS).
You can find full details of the scheme via the National Trainers Federation website. You must make a claim within three months of having your accident.
No! Working with horses on the ground is a vital part of their education as a racehorse and contributes a huge amount to their overall well-being. There is something very special about the bond between horse and groom and this relationship doesn’t have to be developed whilst riding.
There are plenty of great jobs as a racing groom where you don’t have to ride such as yard work, swimming horses, travelling roles, box driving and breaking and handling yearlings.
But if you wish to learn to ride, it would be a huge benefit if you could have some riding lessons. The industry courses at the British Racing School and National Horseracing College take students with no experience. If you are over the age of 19 and not eligible for training funding, you can apply for Employer-Led Training with a racehorse trainer. They may have facilities to teach you on a suitable horse in the yard.
Trainers who train horses to run on the flat will generally require their riding staff to be under 66 kilogrammes (10 stone) as they have to ride younger horses. But, this is not always the case. Some trainers have no realistic restrictions. Be honest about your weight and fitness in your CV or covering letter. Employers appreciate that you may not currently be working. You will get fit once you start work, its one of the benefits!
Trainers who train National Hunt (jump) horses are less likely to have any weight requirements. Your height does not matter. There are plenty of valuable non-riding roles in racing where there are no restrictions.
This will depend upon your experience but in the first few weeks be prepared to be doing basic or routine tasks whilst your employer assesses your abilities and helps you settle in.
You might be mucking out, grooming or taking horses for a pick of grass. You might be riding out too – but remember, even if you have riding experience and have been to the British Racing School or National Horseracing College, you may find that your employer restricts you to walk and trot work at first while they get to know how well you ride.
You can also see our ‘What does a Racing Groom do?’ section for the tasks you might be given in your role depending on your experience. One of our Ambassadors, Laura Winstanley, has also written a great blog on a day in her life as a racing groom.
The British Racing School and National Horseracing College have their own uniforms to prepare racing grooms to take a pride in their appearance and look professional in the work place.
If you are working in a yard, the focus for a racing groom should be to be practical and professional. Some yards might provide a uniform such as hat silks, jackets and polo shirts. Otherwise yards will allow workers to wear what they feel comfortable in.
If you are in a riding role you must wear a skull cap and a Level 3 body protector while mounted on a horse. If you are employed, your employer must provide you with these. Breeches or jodhpurs are advisable for comfort, and short or long riding boots are also required. Thermals, gloves and a good quality waterproof jacket and trousers are a must in cold or wet weather!
We’ve given you more information about what else to wear in our ‘What does a Racing Groom wear?’ section.
Laura Winstanley, our Racing Groom Ambassador, describes thoroughbred racehorses as the Formula One cars of the horse world. They are bred to do a job and to do that job at speed.
Thoroughbreds in training tend to be sharper, more sensitive and quicker to respond than the horses you may be used to. They may be younger than the horses you have worked with before and more easily spooked too.
Thoroughbreds can be challenging at times but that is what makes working with them so rewarding. Thoroughbreds teach you to be patient, intuitive and dedicated. Just like people, Thoroughbreds have such different characters and personalities that each groom can find a horse they get on with best.
This will depend upon who you work for but it is likely that on your trip to the races you will go with an experienced member of staff who will show you what to do. Your employer will give you an identity card. This is your pass for getting into the racecourse stables, which is a secure area which the public cannot access. It is important you look after this card and do not lose it.
You will prepare your horse for travel and then travel to the races in the lorry – this may be your employer’s own or one belonging to a transporter. You will be responsible for your horse until they run. When you arrive, you will take the horse to the stabling area. There are strict rules on what you can take into the stabling area with the horse and your employer will tell you about these.
Horses must get to the racecourse at least 45 minutes before they are due to run and must have a stable – other than at Newmarket or Epsom where local arrangements may apply.
You will have to get your horse ready such as plaiting up and oiling feet. If you make them look their best you could win a Best Turned Out prize. You then take your horse to the preparade ring. This is where you will lead the horse around to loosen up his muscles and get him to settle with the sights and sounds of the racecourse.
Your trainer or their representative will then saddle the horse up. Once saddled, you will take your horse to the parade ring and lead them around before the jockey is legged-up (gets on). At most races, you will lead the horse and jockey around and then take them out onto the track to let them go. Sometimes there is a parade of runners and you may get to lead the horse in front of the stands.
You can watch the race and meet your horse when he comes back from the track. If your horse has won or been placed you will lead him to the Winners Enclosure. If they haven’t been placed you will take them from the jockey. The jockey will take the saddle and any pads and must weigh in.
However well your horse has run, you will have to cool the horse down, give them a drink and walk them around while their muscles cool down. The racecourse announcer will give the signal of “horses away” and all the horses will be led back to the stabling area to be washed down and given a further drink. An hour after the race you can take your horse home, hopefully with a winner!
Racecourses generally have good staff facilities. There will be a canteen where you can get something to eat and drink – tea, coffee and water usually free. Some racecourses provide meal tokens. As part of your wages, you will receive an allowance towards expenses. If you are staying away, racecourses provide accommodation for travelling staff which includes bedrooms, showers and a common room with a television.
We have provided more information on what each of the racecourses provide in our Racecourse Locator.
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