Welcome to my blog about horsey life in the North East - the good bits, bad bits, endless coffees and plenty of mud!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

How to work with horses without destroying yourself

In my early twenties I worked as a groom for a couple of years. I rode lots of horses, shovelled lots of shit and cleaned more tack than I care to remember.

If I returned to that job now, there are things I would do differently to take care of myself.

Here they are:

1. I would look after my hands.
I suffer from eczema anyway and now I never clean tack or bath the horses unless I have rubber gloves on. The chemicals are murder on skin conditions and even if you have tough skin, gloves will stop it from drying out and protect you from blisters.

2. I would learn how to take care of waterproof clothing
Waterproof jackets and trousers are valuable pieces of kit but they need a bit of caring for. You can't wash them in normal detergent. They need to be done with tech-wash or something similar and then reproofed every three or so washes. Tech-wash and re-proofer are just liquids you add to your washing machine in the same slot where the Daz normally goes and cost a few quid from outdoor shops. If you care for your stuff it will last. Equally, invest in good footwear and follow the care instructions to keep that watertight too. Working with horses is tough anyway - ten times more so if you're soaking wet and freezing cold.

Why am I not wearing hat and gloves? Why??

3. I would have a good osteopath on speed dial.
You will say you can't afford it until the day you can't get out of bed. A bad back needs to be attended to and a good osteopath will keep you going. It's also beneficial to your riding as it will help you stay more balanced.

4. I would go to yoga once a week.
I do now, Iyengar yoga at the local sportshall, and that £4.50 is the best money I spend all week. Yoga, or pilates, will keep you supple and strong and reduce the cost of number 3. (see above)

5. I would learn how to cook. The better your diet the easier you will be able to absorb hard physical work without becoming exhausted. I can personally vouch that this bread takes ten minutes to make, an hour to prove and 25 mins to cook. Click here for the recipe. It will make good heavy sandwiches that will fill you up and keep you warm. If possible, have a hot meal for lunch and avoid chocolate and crisps. They have little nutritional value and won't satisfy real hunger. Proper food will stop you from crashing and burning. Think spag bol, curry and thick soups.

6. I would not leave the house without an extra jumper, extra gloves, spare socks and a woolly hat. Even in August. Seriously, the weather in this country can be murder. Have the gear to face a snow storm and arctic winds at all times. 

Happy horsing everyone x 


  1. Such great advice, and all things I wish I'd done when I started out.

  2. Thanks Dom :) Btw - loved your friesian stallion pics :)