This is the story of a Groom. And a Mom.  As told by our friend, Marcia Cooper.


Well, what I thought was a good idea/suggestion for Liv’s site, has resulted in being asked to write a guest blog for Professional Equine Grooms.  

Pam Medlin is presently in Florida for 6 weeks with her daughter Kaylin and another child she is responsible for Katellyn Padgett (both are guest bloggers on EN), as they train/work/compete with Rebecca Howard(short listed for the Canadian Eventing Team).  Pam keeps me posted on many of the goings on in North Carolina and Florida because my daughter Dana Cooke (guest blogger from the Pan Am Games) is part of The Forks team as the assistant equestrian director/rider/trainer/farrier/groom – to name a few of her jobs. 


This photo is close to 20 years ago – doing my most favourite thing – braiding! Does anyone notice the tube of “dippity-do” on the fence – worked wonders for that Appy’s mane!!  At least I had a descent outfit on for this early morning shot! 


Before Dana started competing, I also groomed for her brother, Jonathan, as well as myself (yes I rode for a short time, not very well mind you, but I can say I did it) The reason I started eventing was so I could understand why my children were having so much fun and what the “thrill” was all about.  It didn’t take me long to realize what drove people to event and was somewhat sorry when I had to give it up, when you have 4 people in your family riding, something has to give and it was my competing that I decided to put away.  Absolutely there are no regrets, as I’ve enjoyed every moment of watching/helping both my kids enjoy this sport and now with my youngest, Haley, competing in high school rodeo.


Anyways back to the reason I’m writing this blog … what was my great idea that got me into this blogging thing??? … “Heh Liv – check out Pam’s site – you know moms are most often a rider’s first groom and maybe this might be of interest to all those moms out there.”  Liv’s response went something like this …“Great idea Marcia.  You know I don’t have the experience as a mom, would you be interested in writing a guest blog about this.  Send me some pictures, some words and you’re in.  Thanks for supporting me …”   (And before anyone gives me a hard time – there are many, many, many grooms who are dads as well – I guess I should have said parents, too!!  So forgive me now for my faux pas.) Ummmm, okay – I was really just secretly jealous of Pam and I was yearning to be there, doing all those “eventing grooming mom things that I use to do”.  Reminds me of the lyrics from a song by Trace Adkins “…you’re gonna to miss this, you’re gonna want this back, you’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast; these are some good times, so take a good look around, you may not know it now, but you’re gonna miss this …”   


I haven’t groomed for Dana in a very long time, even before she moved to North Carolina – she was very efficient and looked after herself (I credit that to her work ethic, love of the sport and love of her equine partners; the knowledge gained from Canadian Pony Club her fabulous instructors and me, of course, trying to make her more independent) – but both of us knew that I was available at a moment to help out whenever needed – walking or cooling her horse down, carrying water buckets, feeding, running to get some piece of tack that was forgotten, and the list goes on.  Of course, I was always there to make sure she was well fed, along with some of her fellow riders.  I became well known, by some, for my breakfast sandwiches on the Horse Trials BCcircuit – feeding many people who stopped by at the right time.  But in all honesty, it was my friend Trish Bosch (Stephanie Bosch's mom) who made me feel guilty about the cereal or toast I was serving in the morning when I took a look at what she prepared for Steph. I always prided myself on my meals and Trish always said that she wasn’t “much of a cook” (I never believed that, our pot lucks were always the best) so I soon was whipping up “Marcia’s Almost Egg McMuffins”.  I believe Dana will tell you that she loved me feeling guilty, and I’m sure she secretly thanked Trish many times over.  


Some of the fond memories, I distinctly remember grumbling about:

  • As I rolled out of the camper at 6 am to feed and only to find the horse had rubbed several of his/her braids out (yes this was long before those wonderful contraptions known as the “neck slinky”).  Okay I was new at this, as I never had a horse when I was growing up, so it meant that I soon learned to get up even earlier to braid for dressage day!  Oh how I loved it when x-country and show jumping was held on one day – no more braiding!!
  • About braiding (did I already mention that, yes, but I will go on) – “why is that absolutely necessary?” (remember, I didn’t come from a horsey background, grew up in a rather large city!); no wonder I didn’t have nails, well I never could grow long beautiful nails, but if I could….!!; 
  • As I got up in the middle of the night to catch a horse who had been a Houdini from their stall, dressed in the most glamous of outfits – a real “fashion diva”!  I was also well known on the BC Eventing circuit as being very fashionable in my morning outfits – Dana can tell you how worried she was that I would bring some of that clothing to the east coast, for “old times sake!!” ;-) Oh yes, back to the topic – escaping horses - It was bad enough when it was your horse, but when the naughty beast belonged to someone else and those owners were still “sawing logs” – urggggghhh!
  • Giving the horses their clean ‘em up shampoo and shower before the event, only to put them in their stall and have them later roll around in their overnight deposit of poo!  Green stains on white socks during dressage day!! Thank goodness we NEVER had a grey!! Oh, but we did have that light coloured appaloosa – with more white than brown and green stains on her haunches!
  • When I got soaked from the horse kicking over the freshly replaced water bucket or being so happy that the horses stall was so clean after I had carefully picked out every ounce of poo, only to come back in 5 minutes to see some more fresh steamy piles. Lovely!!
  • Having people watch me as I placed the bridle over my head, after I had meticulously cleaned it with a toothbrush, and I was now trying to figure out how to put the damn thing back together.  “Which way was that cheek piece to go?”

There’s a lot more, but I’m worried that I would bore you.  I think I knew then, that there was going to be a time when I was going to miss all of this, but didn’t realize how much I would miss them, until Dana moved to North Carolina to pursue her dream!


This past summer, my friend Trish had asked me on a whim to go on a road trip – a “Thelma and Louise” type of trip to Rebecca Farms, in Kalispell, Montana. I jumped at the chance and we had a fabulous time – the riding was superb, the excitement was memorable, the renewed friendships was wonderful, but most of all for a very brief moment I got to be an “eventing grooming show mom” for a few moments in time – we helped out one of our Canadian riders.  I didn’t do a whole lot, but I was able to pick a stall, get her a water bucket and I got to help cook dinner for her and her groom.  When she thanked both Trish and I, she gave me a hug – “… nice to have met you Marcia, I’m sure we will meet again, and thank you for the things you did for us while we were here.”; my response: “…No thank you, for letting me be a horse show mom for just a little bit…!”  


Yes I miss this and  I want this back, I wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast So to the parents, moms & dads, what are you thoughts about being your child’s first groom – the “good, the bad, and the ugly” and the humourous.  Liv’s giving us an opportunity to let our views be known “what it is like to be your child’s first groom, and even for those lucky ones who are still grooming for their children …?”   


Happy grooming.  

Marcia Cooper


PS.  I love to see braided horses now, and appreciate the work that went into getting them braided and only wish I could have done them that well!!

PSS. Some even greater news - I get to be an “eventing grooming show mom” at The Fork this spring, when I travel across the country from BC Canada to visit Dana in Norwood, North Carolina! Yippee!! 

I will cherish and enjoy every moment!!