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Jenny Hooch

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A GROOMS LIFE BLOG

Finding the Balance

Whilst some people may associate being a groom as a younger person’s choice of jobs, many of our members have made working with horses a career and have found a way to balance work and family life.

We spoke to BGA member and Mum of two, Katie Gentry, on how she juggles family life with being a groom.

Katie Gentry shares her experiences with us;

"When I was at college and university I was a freelance groom. It worked so well being able to fit in yards and my own horse around my studies. With a solid routine I found two wonderful ladies who both worked away during the week, so I would turnout, muck out and ride their horses for them without tight time restrictions.

  Then in 2013 things all changed. I went on maternity leave and was heartbroken after being told by doctors I should avoid such physical work.


After having my son I soon needed my horsey fix, although it was on reduced hours. I went freelance again working on one yard every evening just with one horse.

Again it worked and fitted round my son as my mum or partner would watch or walk him in the buggy while I rode. I loved the feeling of being back and feeling that bond and trust the horses gave me again. 

This was perfect, until we moved over 50 miles away from where I grew up, then being a freelance just didn’t work for me. I was new to the area; no one knew me or the yards I had worked on so I found myself starting from scratch again and frustrated with work.

 

I found work in a riding school when my son started nursery but it wasn't always easy because I was still building fitness and didn’t always agree with my boss on certain policies.

While debating leaving I discovered I was pregnant again, but this time I was determined I would not lose my fitness with this baby. I thrived working with the children on pony days again and being back in the school, respected and teaching which I hadn’t been able to for a while. Sadly this was short lived.


Working on a yard with a high turnover of staff became a struggle; I found myself finishing two hours later than I was being paid for because I couldn’t bear to leave horses in dirty stables, or missing turnout etc because the new yard staff didn’t know where the horses were going or what they had in their feeds.

This is what broke me; I couldn’t be a mum and a good groom in that situation.

Getting home late most nights or being late to pick up from school was not sustainable, yet there was rarely a thank you nor payment for the extra hours from the yard. I loved the horses and my clients but I couldn’t improve the situation on the yard. This began to affect my family as I was shattered and stressed by it.

 

An advert popped up for holiday cover at a local dressage stud, something that was more my passion. I warmed to the owners instantly and have been there ever since.

I am employed and loving the work as I did back in the early days. My love and enthusiasm is back on the horses themselves. Being employed gives me stability to organise my time, finances and long term future more adequately between being groom and mum.

The boys go to school; I enjoy horsey time and then go back to being mum. When we are away with the horses I send them pictures and videos of what the horses are up to which they love. My eldest loves waiting for me to come home after a foal is born to see those first pictures.


I think I’ve probably cried more with the mares foaling than I did giving birth to my two boys. Grooming isn’t a job for me it’s a lifestyle and I love every minute!”

Finding the right job for you is so important in all situations – especially when juggling life and work.

If, like Katie, you would like to join the BGA have a look at how we can support you.

BGA MEMBERSHIP OPTIONS

 



BLOG ARCHIVE

 
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What the personal accident policy covers you for:

  • Whilst at work
  • All stable duties – mucking out, grooming, washing off, turning out
  • Clipping
  • Riding – including hacking and jumping
  • Hunting
  • Lunging
  • Breaking in
  • Holding horse for a vet and other procedures
  • Travelling horses both in the UK and abroad
  • Competing in line with your job including: jumping, dressage, eventing
  • Injuries that may happen to you whilst you are teaching - but you must also be grooming as part of your duties and not be a sole instructor

What the personal accident policy doesn’t cover you for:

  • Riding in a race, point to point or team chase
  • Stunt Riding
  • Accidents occurring whilst travelling to and from work
  • Riding and competing your own horse (but you can upgrade when applying for membership to include this)
  • Public Liability – this is a separate insurance policy - the Freelance Groom Liability Insurance
  • Care Custody and Control – this is a separate policy - the Freelance Groom Liability Insurance

If you require additional cover then please contact KBIS directly.

   GROOM  RIDER  EMPLOYER

When you are working for other people you do most of the following; muck out, turn out/catch in, tack up, groom horses, exercise Horses (including hacking, jumping and schooling), in the care of your employer/client.

 
YES

 
NO

 
NO

Predominantly ride horses for other people including schooling, exercising and competing.   
NO
 
YES

YES
 Provide grooming services for someone else either full time or on a freelance basis i.e. an employer or a client.   
YES

NO

NO
Employ staff – have an employers liability policy in your name NO NO YES
Buy and sell horses NO YES YES
 
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