In this Grooming Spotlight we spoke to Stephanie Searle who is a groom for champion trainer Willie Mullins from Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow in Ireland. Stephanie gives us a great insight into the day to day work of a groom, the tips and tricks she uses to help the day run as smoothly as possible and how keeping the horses happy is her number one priority.
1. How did you get involved in being a groom?
I would have grown up around horses and attended point to points from a very young age and that would have sparked my initial interest in horses. I then went on to study at the British Racing School in Newmarket to help further my career in the horse racing industry.
2. What is your favourite part of being a groom?
Going racing is defiantly a highlight and getting to see your horses running on the day gives you a real sense of pride in your work. You also become really close to the horses you’re working with everyday and I’m like a proud mom when they do well.
3. What does a normal day at work look like for you?
A typical day would start around 8am and I would ride out 4 or 5 sets. Once the horses are exercised its time for feeding, mucking out and general yard duties. Then its one final check over the horses at the end of the day to ensure everything looks good.
4. How many horses do you look after in a week?
It depends how many are in training at any given time but usually there would be two of us looking after a barn of ten that we would split into five each but I would oversee all ten to make sure they are all receiving everything they need.
5. What products are always in your grooming kit?
Tiger sponges are brilliant especially for horses who are head shy. I would then always have something to add shine to the horses coat and a hoof oil to shine them up before they head down to the parade ring.
6. Do you have a favourite CDM product?
Yes, I have used Concrescence Hoof Ointment on my own horse and it worked wonders for his feet.
7. Do you have a top tip for when you are getting horses ready on race day?
I wash the horses the day before to save time on the morning of race day. If we have a really early start I’ll plait their mane the day before too and put a hood on to prevent them become undone but most of the time I’ll add in plaits the morning of racing so they are fresh and tight.
8. What’s the best part of race day for a groom?
100% it’s watching your horses out on the track racing and seeing them perform to their very best gives me motivation to keep doing what I do.
9. What is your post-race grooming routine?
After the horses finish their race we take them back to the stables and let them walk around and cool off and take out their mane plaits. I will then give them a full check for any injury’s or cuts and make sure the horse is happy and content after their run. If I notice any changes in the horse I’ll report back to the owner and trainer. Then its time to give the horses a well deserved drink of water, a quick wash down, scrap off excess water and throw on a rug to get ready to be loaded up for the trip home.
10. Any advice for someone interested in becoming a racehorse groom?
Get your foot in the door by trying to get some time in a yard starting at the bottom helping around with the horses to get an idea of what the job involves and if you would like to have a career as a groom.
We are excited to be attending Connollys RED MILLS Race Day in Gowran Park on Saturday the 19th of February 2022 where we will be highlighting the great work that goes on behind the scenes by stable staff and the work that goes into getting horses ready for race day.