February 2016 - Book Review: World Class Grooming
Written by CRM
Tuesday, 02 February 2016 08:00

World Class Grooming For Horses: Everything you need to know from the pros with over 1,200 photographs
Written by Cat Hill and Emma Ford
Reviewed by Lucy Bobeck

For those who wonder why ‘Groom’ is a job title, the very size of this book will give you an idea that getting a horse to look supermodel quality is no small feat. The 230 pages with color photographs are devoted to grooming English-style rider’s horses and maintaining their health.

The book wins by sharing experiences. The authors have worked for top riders including champion eventer, Phillip Dutton. Some of Dutton’s horses were notoriously fussy, so the Groom would have to find a “work-around,” for instance if the horse would not tolerate shipping boots. Even as a purely pleasure rider, there are enough tips to get your horse looking like he/she is ready for a show. The peek into the world of an international equestrian is interesting with photographs of airplanes pre-loaded and after being loaded with horses ready for flight. Even the non-equestrian would find interest in the somewhat hidden world of show horses. There is a liberal dose of humor, just as in dog showing, at horse shows different horse breeds are shown with varying luster. Cat Hill relates her story of changing from grooming Arabs to hunters, trying desperately to dull down the high shine she had painted on a hunter’s hooves.

Horse people are not always very forthcoming with their mistakes, but the authors are very candid and write stories throughout the book regarding mishaps, the drama of transporting horses and difficulties using certain forms of equipment. Top grooms other than the authors, also lend their stories (noted as barn gossip) to enhance the book and glean a wealth of knowledge that would otherwise take years to acquire. Emma shares a story where her employer was in the last phase of a major competition and she makes a mistake by applying first aid at the wrong time to a competing horse the night before. The authors are definitely inventive and use an impressive variety of skills to right their errors and save the day.

The majority of the photographs are in color and vivid, especially the step-by-step photographs (e.g. showing how to braid or ‘plait’ if you are European). However, there are a tiny number of black and white pictures that are unclear.

There is a before and after pair of photographs showing a (1) supposed messy tack room, then (2) an orderly tack room. These black and white photographs barely show a difference! This minor detraction does not take from the sound advice, time-saving tips and good horse sense the authors put forth.  We want our horses looking beautiful, the author’s sound advice can seemingly set most problems to the side. Any horse would be looking its best following Cat Hill and Emma Ford’s easy to read entertaining information and detailed pictorals.

Lucy Bobeck is a South Bay rider with a passion for all rescued horses.