Meet Amanda Chiapetta - Winner of the 2016 Shapley's Groom's Class at WEF!
Every year, for several year’s now, Shapley’s sponsors and hosts a series of Groom’s Classes at shows across the country. Shapley’s also sponsors numerous “Best Turned Out Awards” to be given to Top Grooms of horses in major competitions across the country. This year, at WEF, Shapley’s hosted two Groom’s Classes, each with prize money of $1,000 and dozens of amazing prizes. The first class of the season, held during Week 10 of WEF, was won by Amanda Chiapetta!
Amanda answered some questions to give us all some tidbits into winning a Groom's Class!
How did you get ready for the Groom's Class? Any "secrets" or special trick that you used?
AC - To get ready for the class, Natural got ridden as usual in the morning and then I gave him a nice bubble bath and did his braids. My trick to braiding is to braid when the mane is damp, or sponge some water on it to make it easier to grip. Also, use two bands to roll them that way they stay nice and tight, when the horse is working even if the rider touches or rubs them.
What was in your grooming bag/tote/box?
AC - My backpack is usually packed with a lot of things I like to have on hand...
-A first aide kit: elasticon, gauze, scissors, antiseptic cream, alcohol swabs, and duct tape.
-A "ringside" kit: extra ear plugs, safety pins, braid bands, bobby pins, red ribbon, comb, $10 bill, extra curb chain snaps, and a number string.
-sports sticky spray(for rider's boots)
- extra sets of spurs
- a crop
- a blue yoga mat (water jump for schooling)
-two hand towels
-two bottles of water
- a spare bridle
- a spare set of boots/ or heel guards
- a "bribe box" full of mints and twizzlers
Any comments or questions from the judges?
AC - One of the judges did ask me if I had a stud kit in my backpack, which I had forgotten that day! But, she also liked the idea of having a spare bridle incase we need it.
Anyone you would like to thank back at the barn and why?
AC - Oh yes! I would like to thank Natural Nine for being such a good partner in the class, he is such a gentleman! I would also like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Amorim for letting me bring Natural to the grooms class and for being amazing to work with every day! I would like to thank all of my friends and family who came out to watch and root for me! Last, a huge thank you to Shapley's and PBIC for having these important classes!
Tell us about the horse you brought to the class!
AC - The horse I brought to the grooms class is Natural Nine, a.k.a. Natty. He is a jumper owned and trained by Gustavo Amorim. Natural is a big horse with a big personality! His hobbies include jumping, eating grass, rolling in the dirt and hitting me with his tail (lol). Natty also enjoys hand walks, and getting his face groomed with a curry glove. Natural's favorite foods are twizzlers, watermelon, and hay.
Nom, nom, nom.
Were you nervous, sizing up the other horses, did you forget anything?
AC - I wasn't too nervous when I first arrived at the schooling area, but once we entered the ring and I realized how many horses were in it and that everyone did such a great job getting the horses ready, I thought "Oh jeez, what did I get myself into?" At that point I got really nervous and just told Natty to "Be a gentleman and please be patient and after the class I'll feed you all the treats in the "bribe box". I tried not to think too much about being nervous because I didn't want the other grooms to think I was nervous!
How did you get into grooming?
AC - I got my start in horses early, growing up on a working horse farm and I just love being around animals. So, one year when I was looking for a job I found one grooming and thought it was going to be perfect to have a job doing something I love!
How can Grooms be sure to be treated fairly and legally? (workman's comp, legal pay, etc.)
AC - I think that a great way to make sure that everyone is treated fairly would be to have a real meeting with a new boss before the job is started. In the meeting several things should be discussed, agreed on and written down.
salary and what it includes(day money, housing, etc.)
Rules and expectations from both parties
I think that communication is very important and that without it issues arise. If the boss and employees can communicate well, a lot of things can be worked out in a way that works for all involved.
Matching your outfit to your horse's isn't required, but it's totally classy!
What's your advice to a Groom that is in a position where their work environment is negative, illegal, sketchy?
AC- My advice to anyone in those situations is to quit. You're worth so much more than being treated badly, you have to put your well being first on the priority list.
What do you do when you’re not in the barn? Hobbies?
AC - I think my favorite hobby is photography. I especially love to take portraits of the horses. I’m also a full time student, pursuing a Bachelor’s in Politics, with a minor in Literature; and I plan to continue on to attend law school.
All photos courtesy of Jenny Mattell