In her latest blog, successful Show Groom Tabby Oliver (pictured above working in at RIHS) shares her insight into entering the industry…

Recently I have been asked by a few people how they can get in to show grooming and I thought it would make a good blog post.

My first tip would be to evaluate your skills, expertise and experience. Are you completely new to showing or do you already have experience in the showing world already? Can you turn a pony out for the ring? Can you plait? Are you confident and competent lunging and riding fit, sometimes sharp competition animals?

It’s so important to be completely honest with yourself and any prospective employers about your skills and experience. No one will mind if you are new to the game and need to learn how to do certain things as long as you are honest about it. We all have to start somewhere and most producers will be happy to teach you especially as they all have their own way of doing things. The worst thing you can do is over exaggerate your abilities and then not live up to the expectations.

Secondly would you prefer to be full time or freelance? Full time involves being on the yard every day and prepping for shows as well as working at shows, a lot of producers will have at least one full time member of staff that works at home and at shows. The full time role is generally a better option if you aren’t very experienced as a show groom or have much experience turning horses out for the ring, as you will usually have another experienced groom to work under and the producer will be able to teach you how to do things at home first to allow you to practice and get to grips with how they like things done. To get a position like this it is best to use websites such as Yard and Groom or check producers Facebook pages as they will often post available positions on one or the other.

If you already have experience of working with show animals, be that doing your own ponies for the show ring, work experience or prior employment and you don’t wish to be tied to one particular team or don’t want to be full time then freelance would probably be the better option for you.

To find a freelance show grooming role I would suggest doing some research to find if you have any producers local to you, if you do have someone local to you that you would like to work for I would recommend contacting them either via Facebook or if they have contact details posted on a website or Facebook page then you can call or text. I would also recommend checking Facebook pages for posts looking for show grooms. Another good way of finding freelance work is posting an advert on your Facebook (and/or Instagram) that you are available for freelance show work, state your experience, skills, whether you are able/want to ride, whereabouts you are based and if you are happy to travel (unfortunately long drives are part and parcel of the job if you aren’t based near the producer you work for).

The majority of my work as a freelance groom has come from either posting on my own Facebook page or from replying to posts from producers looking for show grooms.

A few essentials I would recommend before you start your show grooming journey is making sure you have appropriate insurance, I have personal injury and public liability insurance through the British Grooms Association and KBIS.

Get yourself good quality, comfortable footwear, you will be on your feet all day and the last thing you want are sore feet and blisters.

Don’t be afraid to ask people if they need a show groom, the worst they can say is no and more often than not producers will be grateful for an extra pair of hands on busy days.

As long as you get stuck in, work hard, are friendly and cheerful, don’t complain about the long hours and have a sense of humour, you won’t be short of work and are sure to find yourself a spot in a team that is the right fit for

More Diary of a Show Groom blogs coming very soon now we are nearly through June and over the first ‘mental week’.

Tabby is one of 20/20 Equine’s paired riders. “I discovered 2020 Equine in late 2020 thanks to a friend who was working for Jayne Ross at the time,” she explained. “I was in need of some new plaiting thread so I put an order in and swiftly found a new favourite!” Since then the company has provided products for Tabby’s plaiting and turn out demos, and they have been working together ever since. Take a look at our review of the 20/20 Equine Equine Leather Magic, with a discount for Your Horse readers.

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