My Experience at the World Class Grooming Clinic

By Julia Grella

Earlier this month, I was fortunate enough to get the chance to participate in the World Class Grooming Clinic with Cat Hill and Emma Ford at Apple Knoll Farm.  

I have been to many clinics throughout my riding career, but never one that had to do with the care of horses, and for this reason I had no idea what to expect. After 17 years of riding I felt confident that I had built a solid foundation of knowledge of the medical and general care for an equine athlete, but within five minutes of my first day in the clinic, I learned things I had never even been exposed to. 


                                                                                                   Cat's group learning how to check legs

For my group, we started with a discussion lead by Cat on first aid, icing, and cooling out in a competition format. I am an event rider and currently a working student, so this was a topic very relevant to me. I learned new techniques that I have already been able to apply to my everyday work and as a result I am providing my horses with a higher level of care. Throughout the day I also improved my braiding and clipping skills, learned techniques for managing a barn and working in the equine industry, and had about a million questions answered. The second day was just as jam packed with information, with a ton of hands-on practice so that I left feeling confident in the new skills I had learned.

Among those who attended the clinic were barn managers, members of the Norfolk Hunt Pony Club, as well as people who have not had much experience caring for horses. We were all encouraged to talk, share our experiences, and ask questions. Through this exchange, I was able to learn from my fellow peers. Each of them came from different backgrounds within the equine industry. Emma and Cat did an outstanding job relating our different backgrounds so that we quickly found common ground. Our activities functioned as team building exercises, which was particularly helpful. You can never have enough practice working with others because as we all know, it takes a rather large village to care for equine athletes.

Emma demonstrating the application of

Flair Nasal Strips

One theme throughout the clinic that resonated most strongly with me was a word that Emma used to describe her philosophy behind her work: compassion. It is important to realize that we ask so much from these animals, and they expect very little in return. For that reason, as Emma explained, considering their feelings and being sensitive in reading and understanding their reactions to different experiences is the most important aspect of working with horses. 

Personally, I feel completely indebted to the horses that I ride and care for, and I want to be able to offer them the best care possible. I am so grateful to Emma and Cat for taking their time to help me achieve that goal. Whether you ride, manage a barn, work for an equine professional, or simply enjoy being around horses, I can guarantee that you will benefit from attending The World Class Grooming Clinic.

Thank you to Emma and Cat for sharing so much of your extensive knowledge, to Adrienne Iorio for organizing the clinic, to the staff at Apple Knoll Farm for hosting, and to all those who lent their horses to us to work with and learn from. And last but not least, thank you to all the horses that allow us to live our dream each and every day.

Pony ride with Squishie

Apple Knoll Farm Clinic