Meet Pro Groom Lauren Dreyer!
It's always a fun time getting a peek into the lives of Pro Grooms - especially those with wicked senses of humor! Lauren fits the bill! It's not always an easy job, but it's clear that Pro Grooms have all of their poop in a group. Literally and figuratively. Enjoy the peek into Lauren's world!
How did you decide to become a Pro Groom? What brought you to grooming?
LD - Grooming sort of just fell into my lap, it wasn't necessarily something I sought out. I was selling a horse in order to get money started for college, an apartment, etc when I was offered a job as a show Groom in Princeton, NJ. I went to the Vermont Summer Festival my very first day of grooming - or even being around show horses - and the rest is history! I fell in love!
Have you always working in the jumpers?
LD - My first job was primarily jumpers, my main focus was my FEI horses - which, by the way, I knew nothing about. When they said I needed to get my stuff ready to go to FEI (what?) and jog (pretty sure my knees were trembling... Cardio?! Yuck!) I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into! Aside from that, we had one hunter who I tried to avoid... For me, hunters just lacks that luster and adrenaline rush.
What advice would you give someone who wants to groom for a top rider?
LD - Become a human sponge! Absorb every tiny bit of knowledge you can because everyone has something to offer someone else, and we will never stop learning more as horsemen. Practice your skill set, put your horses first, and ask questions! It also always helps to have a good friend to help bounce ideas or quick questions off of! As I learned, I can't tell you how many times I either sent or received the "what's this?" "What's the dosage on that?" "Does this look ok?" (Or the occasional, "plaits on fleek!") texts with my Canadian friend, Jordan. We all have our moments and it helps to have a support beam! Don't forget: Your time to shine will come, great opportunities always present themselves to great Grooms. (AKA some trainers and riders will steal Grooms! whoops!)
What do you love about the horse industry as a whole and how they treat Grooms specifically?
LD - I love that grooming opens up the door to traveling, riding lovely horses (job permitting), and being able to potentially have the best instruction available. Once found, a good grooming job has the potential to turn anyone's life around. Plus, did I mention horses?
What do you think can be improved about the horse industry as a whole and specifically about how Grooms are treated?
LD - The inevitable is happening, and exceedingly so, which is that the dollar is becoming more and more important and the horse sometimes gets put on the back burner. Grooms, in many situations, are also tossed to the side like they're secondary to other people which disgusts me. Your Grooms, nine out of ten times, adore their horses, I know the sun rises and sets on mine, so when they're not paid for weeks on end or mentally abused like some are... It really, deeply, just pisses me off.
What advice would you give someone who is in a grooming job and not being treated well, illegal pay, no worker's comp, etc?
LD - If you're unhappy, focus on your goals and where you want to be in life. Save money, market yourself a bit, and do your best to leave on good terms. This is such a small world and it can actually be really grossly incestuous; we all somehow know everyone's business. But also focus on the good with the bad, I know lots of Grooms who leave jobs and regret it later because it was actually something small that was never addressed causing the problem for them. Be smart and not impulsive! It's your future we're talking about!
Do you have a specialty in the grooming world? Legs, manes, clipping?
LD - I love anything that's instant gratification because most of what we do as horsemen and women isn't. But for me, I'm most passionate about plaiting... I will wake up a few extra hours early to get everything done so I can make see my ponies are as beautiful as possible. My coworkers typically find me insane because of it!
Best grooming tip ever:
LD - Hand pick your tails and try to put as little junk in them as possible! Keep them clean and dry them in loops to help make sure the base of the tail isn't going to get gross and itchy (okay, maybe I'm crazy about tails... Don't judge!). Plus, if you dry the hair in loops you'll end up with that movie star status va-va-voom volume that'll make your tail appear bigger! Jokes on you, Mother Nature! Seriously though, if you have a good tail people will compliment it! And we all know how great that feels after a long day of sweating, being covered in a bunch of nasty, and groaning about your lack of energy.
Most embarrassing moment?
LD - I don't think I've done anything totally embarrassing, but I have cursed myself more than probably fifty times about spending the day like an oblivious clown because I had purple shampoo on it the entire time. One thing about me, I wear my job. I can try my best to keep a tidy outfit but, seriously, I'm a hot mess. Who needs Mac and Chanel when you have fly spray and QuikSilver?
LD - My biggest accomplishments come from winning over the quirky, mean, often misunderstood type horses. Nothing gives me a greater sense of purpose than walking into the barn at any point in the day to be greeted by horse who is genuinely happy to see you. That little sparkle in their eye completes me!
Barn pet peeve?
LD - Take the extra 30 seconds to roll up the hose properly, for crying out loud. I feel like that's such a simple task that's so often over looked!
What is on your plate besides horses?
LD - Kick boxing! I've always loved combative sports (come on, it's a high stress lifestyle!), so I recently got a trainer and for every week I'm home, I train 3 days with him and have "homework" for the week. I'm also an ambassador for Riders 4 Well-Being, which is a cause near and dear to my heart. The proceeds go to helping those suffering with body dysmorphia and eating disorders, and Kate (the founder) really has built a fantastic support system for anyone seeking help. Mental health deserves SO much more attention than it currently gets! (Read all about Riders 4 Well-Being here!)
What's your personal mission within the horse industry? What do you want to educate the world about?
LD - I'm a definite career Groom, I just want to learn as much as possible while I still can. I think if I can convince just a handful of people how truly rewarding this job is, especially for generations below me as I age, I'll feel like I've done the industry some good. Horses are such deeply emotional, gentle souls and if the world would just embrace that I feel like it would be a better place. (I swear I'm not wearing a floral skirt and hemp bracelets while saying that, either!)
Where do you want grooming to take you?
LD - I want to go to World Cup Finals! I just imagine the atmosphere must be incredible!
What topic do you want to soap box about?
LD - The opportunity to learn from older Grooms is something that I, amongst many, have found to be a seemingly difficult task. We don't need to be babysat, nor do we need to be pretentiously put down when we ask questions because our desire to know overwhelms them. I've taken jobs specifically to learn from people I thought were some of 'the greats' and soon found them to be 'the grumps.' So please, if you're reading this, be nice to your young ambitious Grooms! Many of us adore you and appreciate all that your walking encyclopedia of a brain has to offer!
Any questions for Lauren??