What is "Professional"?
What we are now, we are grooms.
What I want us to be: Professional Equine Grooms. Capital G.
What does it mean to be Professional? It means you will be taken seriously because you take your job seriously and it shows. It means respect, for you and by you. It means being competent, because you are. It means being humble and behind the scenes and brave enough to say “I don’t know and I need help to get the answer”. It means going the extra mile, or two, to learn something, to practice something, and to make your horses steal the show.
It starts even before you get to the barn. Your dress and attitude are all outward projections of your Professionalism. Dress smartly, with collared shirts, belts, and clean(ish) shoes. When you are representing your farm at a show, wear your farm's logo with pride.
How you speak and what you say are also important. Kindness in your speaking tone and kindness in your words will go far. The horses will thank you for it, as well.
To be Professional also means getting in the trenches, getting dirty, and not complaining. It means you don’t say “NO” to a task just because you don’t want to do it. We all take turns with the really icky chores - so buck up. Don't like to get dirty? Perhaps grooming is not the job for you.
Some thoughts on attitude. I once posted on the facebook page about Grooms sweeping up farrier trimmings. One response was "It's the farrier's job to do that.". Well, it may well be, but that attitude will get you NO WHERE. And besides, it's good to think about what your farrier does for you - tacking on sprung shoes in the rain, on holidays, on weekends for no charge. Show some teamwork and again, buck up.
To be Professional also means that you know the answers to questions before they are asked. You are on top of what’s going on with your horses, and if the trainer or vet asks you something, (how much did he drink last night?) you have the answer. You know all of the horse's baseline TPR's, and you know all of their quirks and funny habits. You can tell the difference between kicking at a fly and kicking a colicky belly from 50 yards.
Be proactive. Notice if someone on the team needs help and do something about it. Working as a Groom takes huge amounts of time, the days are long and hard. Not helping a team mate will guarantee one of two things: Everyone's day will be longer, or you will have a turn at needing help and not getting it.
I know some of you may be thinking right now that it shouldn’t matter how you dress or if you curse at work (OK- so the Clydesdale just stomped your toes….). But it does. It shows respect for yourself, your profession, your team-mates, your horses, and your employer. You have a very hard job! Have pride in doing it well!! Show that pride by dressing and working like a Pro. And don't forget to show the ultimate respect for yourself by making sure you are paid legally, you have worker's compensation provided by your employer, and your workplace is safe. You can learn more about these critical employement issues in the Employment section of this website.