Grooming for the best: My time with Holly Jacks Equestrian

Interview with Lavery Macdonald

In the equestrian world, first hand experience is second to none. Although the hours can be grueling, and personal and horse life mesh together as one, a stint as a groom or working student is on the path that many of us have taken towards being professionals in this sport.  New Brunswick native, Lavery Macdonald, decided to pack her bags this past winter, and head to warmer weather in the land of horses, as a groom for Foshay Alumni, Holly Jacks-Smithers, in Ocala Florida! We caught up with Lavery after she returned to NB, to chat about her time as a groom, and the tips and tricks she picked up along the way.


How did you become a member of the Holly Jacks Equestrian team?

After seeing Holly at Foshay International in 2018, my friend Karlee decided to apply to be a working student for Holly and they were looking for someone else. I also applied and the journey began!

Had you always wanted to be a groom?

I didn’t always plan on being a groom. I really enjoyed grooming for Erin Macquarrie, a local dressage rider and coach, so when a position came up at Millar Brooke Stables with an opportunity to go to Florida – I couldn’t say no!

What was your favourite part about grooming for Holly?

Favy, the one eyed wonder horse, was my favourite part! I learnt so much while working with Holly, the experience and knowledge gained was invaluable. I got to walk the courses with her and pick her brain as to how she would plan on riding each fence and why she was choosing certain lines to and from the fences.

What were some things you learnt on the job?

I learnt a lot about the sport of Eventing while working with Holly. I had only been to a few horse trials in New Brunswick before so working with Holly was my first experience with a 3-day event and large horse trials. Honestly, it’s so hard to just pick a few things that I learnt while grooming for Holly. There was so much from horse care to showing and riding! Every day was spent learning.

What are some of the biggest challenges as an Eventing groom?

The biggest challenge would be grooming at a horse trials (with 3 phases), especially if you have more than one horse! Sometimes you get good ride times that give you enough time between classes to get horses ready, but if your ride times are close it can be a bit of a rush.


What was your favourite moment while working for Holly?

During my time grooming with Holly, I was able to take my horse to his first horse show.

What is in your ultimate grooming bag?

My grooming bag includes a lead shank, hoof pick, fly spray, towel, water, extra braiding elastics and tape!


What is your biggest grooming pet peeve?

Not putting things back where they came from is my biggest grooming pet peeve.

What is your advice for those looking to become a groom or become a professional in the horse industry?

First, pick the discipline you want to be involved in. After that you can find a few barns that are hiring. I asked around to see what experience others have had, and go from there.

It’s not an easy job and it’s important that you understand that everyone has their own way of how they want things done. There is no wrong way but lots of different ways to do something and you have to be open to learning them all.


Finally, do you plan to come to Foshay International this year?

Yes – I will be helping with the Horse Trials New Brunswick fundraiser.

Please feel free to come and talk to me!

Follow the Holly Jacks-Smithers Equestrian team on Facebook, and stay tuned as we count down the days leading up to Foshay International 2019!


Only 7 hours from Boston and nestled on the river’s edge in beautiful Jemseg New Brunswick, Foshay International is one of a kind- come see for yourself!

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