The Equestrian class in Ancient Rome ranked just below the Senators.But that is not what I am going to write about here. This blog post is an examination of the different “classes” of equestrian competitors. So let’s start with the workers!
THE WORKING CLASS COMPETITOR.
In dressage, hunter and jumper these are the workers and the independents. They do everything themselves. They set up their horses stall, hang and fill the water buckets, spread out the bedding, organize their horse’s grain feeds and their hay, hang hay bags, hang fans if the weather is hot, etc etc etc. They do all the mucking out ( cleaning) of the stalls, cleaning and refilling of water buckets, arrive at the show early and feed their horse’s breakfast, hand walk the horse, groom and braid.
Then they tack up, ride in the competition, untack, bath their horse if necessary and take out braids, pick out stall, replenish the bedding, refill water buckets, give feeds, replenish hay, perhaps hand walk again, and at the end of the day go home to fall into bed and be ready to get up the next morning and do it all again.
THE MIDDLE CLASS COMPETITOR
This is the category I fall into. I have some help. I usually have my husband help me set up the stall and hang buckets and fill hay nets. I prepare the feeds and put hay into the haynet. During the show, I have help ( usually my coach’s assistant) to come early in the morning to muck out the stall and take Biasini for a hand walk. When I arrive I groom and braid and tack up myself.
My braids are not professional but they are not bad for the dressage style of rosebud braids.
I ride my test and bath Biasini or brush him and take him for a hand walk, prepare any feeds and hay for the evening and for breakfast. In Florida there is a very reasonably priced Equine Nanny who will give horses a night feed and a breakfast feed and also check on the horses every hour through the night. This is a tremendous help. With this level of help I am at the show for most of the day but not all the day and I can save my energy for riding the test.
In the discipline of dressage there are very few amateur riders who have full time professional grooms to take care of all details of showing. Professionals who are riding more than one horse at a show have full time grooms to help them. But….in the disciplines of hunter and jumper having a full time groom, at least at the Winter Equestrian Festival,seems to be the norm. Here horses are braided by professional braiders who do a magnificent job with the manes and the tails and may be doing it in the middle of the night!
The horses are then brushed and polished, tacked up and a nice fly sheet with the stable name on it is put on the horse , the riders number is tied around the neck of the horse and the horse is hand walked to the ring by the full time groom.
The horse and groom then wait at the side of the warm up ring for the rider. This is certainly convenient for riders who are riding in more than one class and more than one horse.
At WEF there are children, adult amateurs and professionals who have full time grooms and who ride more than one horse. I hope this has given you a grasp on why this group really is the aristocracy of equestrians.