Monday, June 11, 2007

How to piss off your trainer: Part 1 of The Critic

Here is the second in a series of stories outlining some of the times that I've pissed off my horse trainer (unintentionally, of course).

This particular story takes place about twenty years ago when I was working for an arabian horse trainer named Blair. I was around nineteen years old, and had known Blair for about six years. Blair had taught me volumes about horses, riding, and training, and in return I worked for her as a groom.

My duties not only encompassed grooming, cleaning, and lunging horses at the barn, but I also went to shows and performed the same duties. Before the show there was bathing, clipping, and packing to do. And that was just the start of it. Grooming for an arabian show took a lot of equipment, because the owners of the horses who went to the show didn't usually provide anything except the horse and the tack. So there was a lot to pack, unpack, and keep organized at the show. There were usually numerous tack trunks which had to be kept stocked with everything we might need at the show. There was a grooming trunk with things like brushes, clippers, oil, shampoo, sponges, VO5, hair gel, Show Sheen, and other products to make the horses glow in the ring. There was a trunk for the show drapes, and another one for lights, grooming stall mats, extension cords, and shelves. Of course there was a tool trunk with hammers, nails, screw eyes, double ended snaps, pliers, extra bailing wire, and even a circular saw. We even had a trunk just for towels.

In addition to grooming the horses, we were responsible for feeding, stall cleaning, exercising, and tack cleaning at the show. Naturally that meant more equipment - wheelbarrows, shovels, stall picks, lunge lines, bridles, saddles, saddle pads, whips, lead ropes, rakes, get the idea. Lots of stuff. Lots of work.

Sometimes I was the only groom if we went to a one day show, but there was usually at least one other groom at shows that were a weekend or longer. This story is about a long show called the Grand National Rodeo Horse and Stock Show, and it took place at the Cow Palace in California (gotta love it - it's really called the Cow Palace!). In addition to having a full blown rodeo, the show also offered arabian breed classes (from the looks of the website it doesn't look like they have arabian classes anymore - such a pity). I seem to remember that the schedule was weird in that you'd have a chunk of the afternoon for arabian classes, then they'd have some bull riding, and then set the ring up for jumping. It's not like there was three full days in a row of arabian classes, which made it great for everyone. It was a blast and I loved grooming at that show.

Blair always told this story about how when she was grooming for her trainer years earlier that she had won the "Grooms Award" at the Grand National. I'm not sure who gave the award out, or even who judged for it, but it was an award for keeping your stalling area nicely decorated, horse stalls clean, aisles raked, and everything spotless. This one year Liz and I decided that we'd try really really hard to win that award to prove to Blair and ourselves that we were as good at being grooms as she was.

To be continued...

Part 2

1 comment:

Rising Rainbow said...

Ya, grooming, otherwise known as slave labor! LOL Can't say I miss those days, although I learned a ton. Going to the shows now is just the same but it's different doing it for myself. I can take short cuts if I please (I usually think about it but opt not to) and if I screw it up, I don't have to worry about messing anyone up but me. I think I always miss it more when I'm not showing and when I am showing, I wonder why I put myself through it. LOL

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