The Groom Elite Program, which this year returned to Gulfstream Park for the first time since the pandemic, hosted its graduation ceremony and luncheon at Ten Palms Feb. 15. Sixteen students attended the classes, and 10 completed the course and were awarded certification. Sponsored by the Florida Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and 1/ST RACING, the program provides education on a variety of topics, including Horse Behavior, Health, Conformation, Digestive System and Feeding, and Bandaging and Tacking.
“We have a lot of good horsemen and women working on the backstretch who know how to do things, but maybe not why they are doing it,” said Reid McLellan, the executive director and chief instructor for Groom Elite. “We also have inexperienced grooms and hotwalkers looking to improve their skills. This program gives them the tools they need to do a better job for the horses.”
One of the students, Neosaris Mullins, is currently a hotwalker for Amador Sanchez, but she would like to move up the ladder.
“I love horses – I love all animals – and I want to be a groom,” Mullins said. “This course was perfect. We all learned so much, and we are so grateful for the opportunity. We want to continue to learn – we can’t wait to take the next course [Groom Elite 201].”
FTHA’s Special Project Coordinator Herb Oster said, “It was great to see the enthusiasm of the students. They were so eager to learn – even when class was over, they would stay to talk and ask questions. We hope the program will grow from here, and that we will have even more students the next time Groom Elite is offered here at Gulfstream.”
Photos Courtesy of Coglianese Photos/Ryan Thompson