Success Stories from EMTC
Earlier this year, the Equine Management Training Center (EMTC) announced the creation of a certification program for professional grooms. The first session of the Professional Groom Certificate Program wrapped up in September with two newly minted graduates, Claudia Sadler and Rachel Petty, who are now happily employed in their chosen careers.
The EMTC aims to raise the standard of grooms and facility managers by providing a structured curriculum that covers all aspects of farm and stable management and care specific to competition horses. The eight-week program consists of six weeks of classroom and hands-on practical instruction followed by a two-week internship after which graduates are guaranteed job placement. With the quality and comprehensiveness of the instruction, it’s unsurprising that top-level riders, trainers, and establishments are lining up to welcome more graduates into their programs.
Sam Burton Henley, EMTC Program Administrator, has been imparting wisdom upon the next generation of riders and grooms for over 10 years as she has worked as Head Trainer and Facility Manager at Suzanne Martin Lacy’s Sandy River Equestrian Center (SREC), out of which EMTC is based. Prior to working at the Axton, Virginia facility she was Competition Manager and Head Groom for the O’Connor Event Team, so it’s not surprising that the real-world experience and knowledge she shares with the students leads to producing highly competent and qualified individuals.
Having now graduated the first participants, Sam has taken the time to reflect on the first session and look ahead to the future sessions. “The condensed format which consisted of 6 weeks at our farm followed by a two week internship was very intense, but doable,” Sam said. “We realized that we needed more time than originally allowed for some of the topics so we just had to keep adjusting our schedules, but for the most part it ran very smoothly.”
Claudia and Rachel had class five days a week, homework and testing on the sixth day, and one day off. “This seemed like an excellent schedule as we could make sure they were absorbing everything as we went,” said Sam. “Both of our graduates seemed very happy with the program and absolutely blew us away with how quickly they picked everything up. We are very hopeful for the continued development and success of this program.”
“The highlight for our first session was putting the girls with riders at the AEC's. Claudia Sadler worked with Lauren Kieffer, Rachel Petty worked with Jennie Brannigan, and they both worked with Ryan Wood. All of the riders were extremely complimentary of both girls.”
Though this program is the first multi-week formalized certificate program for grooms, EMTC and SREC have already demonstrated success in creating highly-qualified equine industry employees. Several students who have come through SREC first as lesson program participants, then as working students, and later as staff, have benefitted from Sam’s wealth of experience and knowledge as they later progressed to Head Groom or Facility Manager positions of their own in premier programs around the country.
Courtney Carson came through SREC while attending nearby Hollins College and stayed on to work at the facility after graduating. After gaining valuable experience at EMTC, Courtney moved on to groom for Doug Payne. "Thanks to the great foundation and training Courtney received at SREC she was able to step right into the program at DPE without missing a beat. Her experience with both top level and young horses has made her an invaluable asset to our team," said Doug.
Trae Meder is another such SREC graduate and he now works for showjumper Matthias Hollberg. “Trae came to us with a solid foundation of knowledge and was eager to learn about the show world. With and excellent work attitude and great feel for horses he has become a valuable member of our team,” said Matthias.
It was the success Courtney, Trae, and other SREC alumni - Katherine Lester who works at Jacqueline Mars' Stonehall Farm and Sarah Zimmer who is Head Groom for Allison Springer - that inspired the creation of the Professional Groom Certificate Program. Now the most recent graduates are following in their footsteps as successful professionals. Rachel Petty is now employed by Karri Henning of Altamont Sport Horses in Birmingham, Alabama, and Claudia Sadler is now grooming for Hannah Sue Burnett.
"I've been very impressed with the skills and horsemanship that Claudia came to work for me with after being in the EMTC for just a short amount of time,” said Hannah Sue. “Her positive attitude and great way with the horses makes her a valuable member of my team. I'm excited to see more qualified grooms come out of this great program!"
EMTC has four sessions of the Professional Groom Training Certificate program scheduled for 2017, with the first one beginning February 6. Employment is guaranteed upon completion of the program and scholarships are available. In addition to the groom program, a two-day Winter Event Workshop “Preparing for Your Spring Season” led by Sam has been generating a lot of interest and will take place in January.
Anyone interested in either the Winter Event Workshop or the Professional Groom Training Certificate program can check out the EMTC webpage for more information and applications.
“We were really pleased with the first session and are so excited for the next one,” said Sam.
"I've been very impressed with the skills and horsemanship that Claudia came to work for me with after being in the EMTC for just a short amount of time. Her positive attitude and great way with the horses makes her a valuable member of my team. I'm excited to see more qualified grooms come out of this great program!" -- Hannah Sue Burnett
"I am very thankful to the Equine Management Training Center for helping to prepare Rachel Petty in every aspect of horse care and show preparation that has made our show experience go more smoothly and efficiently. I am sure she will be instrumental in ensuring future success." -Tammy Davis
"Thanks to the great foundation and training Courtney received at SREC she was able to step right into the program at DPE without missing a beat. Her experience with both top level and young horses has made her an invaluable asset to our team." -- Doug Payne
"Trae has been working for me since August 2016. His responsibilities include all aspects of the care and general well being of the horses, as well as riding and assisting in the training .
He came to us with a solid foundation of knowledge and was eager to learn about the show world . With an excellent work attitude and great feel for horses he has became a valuable member of our team." -- Matthias Hollberg
Katherine Lester and Claudia Sadler
When people want to enter into the horse world as a professional career, there are many considerations that go into hiring the "right" person. Do they have the aptitude and personality for it, are they passionate about the horse and the care it receives, do they work well as part of a team and can they contribute to the success of the team? Do they want to further themselves in their careers? Do they have the skill sets? The list goes on and on...We care a lot about the answers to all of these questions, as we are asking these people to help to take care of and produce the very vein of our existences....our horses. Our horses are career animals, athletes, who have owners, sponsors, riders....they are our lives and livelihoods and it is not always easy to bring in new people to work with them.
One thing that has certainly made this process easier for us, is the Equine Management Training Center. The grooms come through this "school" having been taught all the fundamental skills and requirements for someone to enter the equine field as a qualified groom. They have been introduced to all of the new technologies and they are aware and knowledgeable about what is out there and it's use. I have been impressed by how well rounded their background is and I know that when I ask one of the students to bodyclip a horse that they are well prepared to do it, which is a long way from what a lot of other schools have presented to us. Their backgrounds coming through EMTC provide us, as employers, a tremendous amount of confidence and saves us valuable time as we are aware of what the students know and don't know. All of our programs vary slightly, but it is welcoming to be able to jump right in and train the "new kid" to your idiosyncrasies that make your program unique and have a valuable employee, rather than having to go back through and teach the fundamentals of stall mucking and how to lead a horse, or how to use studs. I would highly recommend this program to anyone that was seriously thinking about entering the professional horse world,...with this background behind you, you will enter the horse world with confidence!! And we are lucky enough to have two girls that came through the program. Claudia Sadler and Katherine"Scottie" Lester. -- Sue Clarke, Manager, Stonehall Farm
"When I was in need of a new head groom, my first call was to Sam Burton at the EMTC. I know Sam personally and professionally and I had full confidence she would steer me in the right direction filling the most important position on my staff. Sam connected me with Sarah Zimmer who has been my head groom since May of 2015. Sarah has proven to be an invaluable part of my team; her dedication and kindness has been a blessing to my program." -- Allison Springer