I believe that the success of any business depends on many factors, one of which is teamwork. Everyone accepts that an equestrian facility’s team includes the owner, manager, assistants, and trainers—but what about the grooms? Often a groom is the stable’s first line of defense—he’s the one who notices that a fence has come down, a horse looks ill, or a boarder seems upset. Treating the grooms well often translates into a business run more efficiently and profitably, as well as helping to create a more positive environment.
How can a stable owner treat grooms well? Of course, paying decent wages and workers’ compensation are important, as well as holiday bonuses. In addition, the owner should expect boarders to pay the same respect to a groom that would be granted anyone else at the facility. Is there anything else? In the summer of 2006, we came up with another way to appreciate our grooms—a boarder suggested that one of our stable barbeque parties honor the grooms for all of their hard work. Many staff members, boarders, and trainers contributed to this celebration, which was so successful that we decided to make this an annual event.
This past summer, Meadowview Stables held its second annual Groom Appreciation Day. The day had been chosen weeks before, but unfortunately turned out to be the hottest day of the year, with the mercury reaching almost 100 degrees. However, with a pleasant breeze and fans blowing over the tables set up in the garages, the forty-plus people in attendance had a great time. The potluck affair included loads of appetizers, side dishes, hot dogs, hamburgers, and desserts.
As a thank-you gift for our grooms, $1,200 had been collected beforehand—all voluntary contributions made by about 75 percent of management, trainers, and boarders. The donations were used to purchase each of the three grooms five passes to Six Flags Amusement Park, as well as nearly $300 in spending money. While presenting the gifts, I thanked the grooms, on behalf of the management and the boarders, for all the work they did every day to make the stable a success and a wonderful place to be. I stated the obvious: “This stable wouldn’t be what it is without you.”
In my opinion, an event such as Groom Appreciation Day—and other gestures of respect for our grooms—contributes many benefits to Meadowview. Our grooms work hard, pitch in whenever there’s an emergency, and are honest and reliable. In addition, their intimate knowledge of equine disease and care from the frontline can be an invaluable tool. And by showing appreciation above and beyond a paycheck, you show your grooms that their opinions and expertise matter.