Ever wonder what the life of a professional groom is like? Earlier this year, we had a chance to talk with Cat Hill, a professional eventing groom, about her job, her favorite equine memories and her quick grooming tips.
Cat (farthest to the right) during the Pan-Am Games in Mexico in 2011.
Absorbine: Tell us a bit about what you do as a professional groom.
Cat: As an eventing groom, I focus on horse care during intermediate or advanced horse trials, or 3-day events. I am responsible for everything from cleaning stalls at the barn to braiding and beautifying the horses – you have to do it all as a groom. During 3-day events, my most important responsibility is keeping the horses sound through the weekend so they will pass the lameness evaluation on Sunday morning.
Absorbine: What is your favorite part of your job?
Cat: Definitely the relationships you build with the horses, and getting to know them outside of what they look like in the ring. Every horse has its own personality and preferences, and it’s great knowing that I am helping them perform their best.
Absorbine: What has been the most memorable moment of your career?
Cat: In 2011, I was one of the grooms for Ballingowan Pizzazz during the Pan-American Games. My favorite memory was standing under the US flag, holding Ballingowan Pizzazz, while the US anthem played after the team captured the gold medal. We made history as the first team to finish on their dressage scores (no penalties on cross-country or show jumping) – this team deserved to win in every way. It was an amazing experience and everyone involved just stepped up to help horse and rider succeed.
Absorbine: What made you decide to become a groom?
Cat: I have been riding my whole life, and after college, the barn just kept calling me back. I started out wanting to be a professional rider, but with my limited experience (and budget!) I knew it would be a long shot getting to the higher level events. I love horses, and I knew that I was good at making them happy and sound – so I pursued grooming instead.
Absorbine: What advice do you have for people who want to be a professional groom?
Cat: You better love it – you need to really love the horses. Being honest, grooming is a tough profession with crazy hours and little room for an outside life. The reward you receive is in the bond you create with the animals, and if that isn’t enough for you, you won’t be happy.
Absorbine: What grooming tips can you share with Absorbine?
Nothing beats elbow grease and the time for a thorough grooming, but in a pinch, a towel dunked in hot water with a few drops of ShowSheen®
in it will give an instant shine to any horse. Miracle Groom™
is also great for busy mornings – it’s great on manure stains on hind legs and for sprucing up white faces.
Absorbine: Do you have a favorite Absorbine product?
Definitely Magic Cushion™
. It’s much better at taking the sting out of a hoof than any other product, and it stays in the foot on its own. It’s a must-have for eventing.
Cat Hill lives in Corning, NY with her husband and daughter. She owns two Irish Sport horses, one who is retired and one who competes in dressage.