Grooming Spotlight – Heather Heffernan
1. How did I get involved in being a groom?
I have had horses all my life, doing pony club, mounted games eventing etc. I started riding out with Liam Cussack at weekends and I suppose i got the bug from there for racing. Myself and James have our own yard at home Springfield Stables comprising mostly of national hunt horses.
2. What is your favourite part of being a groom?
I love spending time with the horses and getting to know them on a individual level, it’s gas actually how totally different they all are. Being able to do this though is the joys of been in a small yard. Also the joy of having the horses looking well walking around the parade and the gratification of people complimenting how well the horses look is a massive reflection on the yard at home.
3. What does a normal day at work look like for you?
Were down the yard at 6.30 to feed. Start riding out at 8am We exercise each lot then head to the river (we’re very lucky to have a natural river that is up over the horses shoulders that they walk in to cool down after riding out) all horses are put out into paddocks as soon as they ride out.
Evening then I brush over the horses and whatever other extra attention they need let it be magnet rugs/booths, nebulise, medical treatment etc.
We fed up at 5.30 and night check at 9/9.30 where all horses get their treats ?
4. How many horses do you look after in a week?
We have 18/20 horses in the yard so I look after them on a daily basis.
5. What products are always in your grooming kit?
I don’t use as much products as I do certain brushes. I use the rubber comb, tiger tongue, body brush and then a microfibre dust cloth. Products then I use is mane and tail, and hoof oil.
6. Do you have a favourite CDM product?
My favourite product if I had to pick one each:
For the yard Cornucrescine Daily Hoof Dressing – having horses galloping on sand, wood chip and even grass it dries out their feet using the hoof dressing every day keeps their feet nourished.
For racing the Dreamcoat I use it on their hindquarters when your use the quarter marking on the horses after a few sprays of it the marking just stand out and look fabulous. It’s also super as it’s non-slip formula which allows people to use it under tack if they want to.
7. Do you have a top tip for when you are getting horses ready on race day?
All our horses are washed the day before racing after riding out. Then the morning of they are all given a hot oil rub which I used abs oils in hot water and rub them over with a microfibre cloth which gets rid of excess dirt and the horses love it.
8. What’s the best part of race day for a groom?
I love getting the horses ready and having the owners all excited to see their horses run, and of course when the horses run well. For all the work, long hours it’s really rewarding to see them run well and know that your doing right by the horse.
9. What is your post-race grooming routine?
All horses are washed down at the races with the hose. Then their faces washed with a sponge and a well deserved drink of water. After they dry I use the tiger tongue to give them a quick flick checking for cuts lumps & bumps. Anything out of the ordinary I make sure to get the horse checked by a vet or take extra time to make sure all is ok before loading up and going home.
10. Any advice for someone interested in becoming a racehorse groom?
It’s a tough game with long hours and hard work and you really have to love the game but if you like it it’s one of the best jobs you’ll ever work at.