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A Day in the life of ... a Flying Groom

06 May 2016

Flying grooms are tasked with travelling the world with their equine counterparts to ensure the safe transportation of equine athletes. Flying grooms tend to take over from a horse’s regular groom and are qualified to give their travel companion a stress-free and safe journey.

How did you get involved in this role?
I got involved with this opportunity when I was living in Wincanton, Somerset. I was looking in the paper one morning and saw an advert for a groom to look after horses in quarantine for Wardall Bloodstock shipping. So I called to arrange an interview and the next thing I know I’d been given the opportunity to travel two horses to Barbados for two weeks by sea. The horse’s names were Kivol Lady and a colt called Tikashare. I was told by the senior groom to always remember the first horse’s you travel with as you would never remember all the others. How right was that?

What attracted you to the job?
I’ve always been brought up around horses ever since I was a child and always wanted to fulfil my goal and succeed. I was very lucky to get the opportunity.

What is a typical day like?

A typical day can start around 4am depending on where you are flying from. Usually you would meet up with the rest of your colleagues at Heathrow if we were heading out to America or Dubai but usually we would fly in to London Stansted as that is the BIP (border inspection post). Then it’s time to sort out the jet stalls and put the bedding down and sort out the hay nets - this takes time depending on how many horses you have to load. Once airborne, we offer the horses water to stop them getting dehydrated during the flight. When you are five miles up and hit bad turbulence, the horses get agitated which can be scary and you need to have your wits about you. The days can be long, sometimes a good 18-hour day.

What is your favourite part of the job?
I get to see the world. One day I am in Japan and the next America. I stay in great hotels and some not so good. It’s so amazing to see all the different parts of the world and get paid for it. As soon as I arrive home I can’t wait for the phone to ring for the next job.

Which part of your job would you like to change?

To be honest it’s a great job. Every trip you go on is different from the last and it’s a fantastic job as you get to handle good horses and meet lovely people.

What advice would you give to someone considering a similar role?
My advice would be to start from the bottom and work your way up, but it does take time. For example, if you are just starting out as a lad/lass and your ambition is to travel with horses worldwide, keep working hard and keep your ear to the ground for opportunities. Talk to as many people as you can as they may be able to help you up the ladder. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. It doesn’t happen overnight but it can happen. If you are interested in getting into flying, I would suggest giving a bloodstock shipping agent a call and introduce yourself. Most of the leading agents have their own grooms but during the busy season most of them are looking out for a spare lad or lass even to help at the airport. 

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