They say behind every good man there is a better woman. In horse racing it’s no different. Behind every great equine athlete there is a great groom.
The groom has put blood, sweat, and tears into making sure the horse(s) they look after are in tip-top shape and perform to the best of their best ability. Not to mention the numerous hours, days, and months of hard work that go into making a champion.
The long days they put in, even if that means being up before the sun, and getting back to the barn long after the 12th race is over, they don’t mind doing it. Why? They do it out of love, it’s their passion.
To the grooms, the horses they look after are like their kids. If the kid causes trouble, you scold them by saying “quit” or “no, don’t do that.” And just like any parent would, when your child has a basketball game, or a dance recital, you do your best to be there.
For the grooms every time their kid races they’re there. And every time they will always be the one cheering the loudest. No matter how their baby finishes, the groom is still proud, they never see their kids’ imperfections; to them the only thing that matters is their heart.
They never get angry about how their kid did. It is simply another challenge and experience that only strengthens the bond between horse and groom.
When one of their horses gets injured or sick the first one to notice and the first one to be concerned is the groom, it is because they can empathize, and they want their baby to feel better as soon as possible. That is why we call them caretakers.
If in order to take care of their child it requires them to stay up late at the barn, or change the daily routine of that specific horse they always will; without any hesitation. The grooms have a very thorough understanding of the horse(s) they care for. They know everything from their horse’s lifetime mark or their fastest last quarter, right down to their horse’s favorite treat.
Someone once told a friend of mine “if you get too emotionally involved with a horse, you won’t make it in this business.” But I think that is why some get into it and make it a business and the reason why they are so successful is because of the love.
The understanding and everlasting friendship that a horse and groom share is remarkable. In the eyes of a groom it doesn’t matter to them whether the horse(s) they care for are destined for greatness or not. They’re all champions.
If a groom and horse go their separate ways, that groom will always remember that horse as a friend, co-worker and an athlete, and will always be their biggest fan.
Some grooms have that one special horse; sometimes they will even go to great lengths to get them back. No matter how long it takes them, they will get them back. Why, because they will always have that special bond with one horse that will always be close to their heart.
And no distance can ever separate the love between a groom and a horse. A horse never forgets their groom(s). The one that gave them spa treatments, the one that set out their feed and always made sure there was a healthy supply of treats. The one that gave them a nice soapy bubble bath after they ran all around the paddock, and maybe even rolled in the mud.
When people that visit the races for something to do on Saturday night, they don’t see all the hard work of a groom, the person behind the scenes, making sure their horse is ready to shine.
So here is to all the grooms out there. The ones that make our sport what it is. The ones who get up every morning, in rain, snow or sleet, no matter what day it is; even if it’s a holiday.
Thank you for all you do, without you doing what you do, and having the passion and love you have, our sport would be totally different.
Sydney Weaver is 13 years old and resides in Ontario, Canada. She has been involved with harness racing for years, grooms horses, jogs them on the track, co-owns a racehorse and has already won major youth writing awards. Sydney also has Cerebral Palsy, but has never let her disablity hold her back from achieving her goals.