Anyone aspiring to be a groom should possess a natural love of horses, a good equable temper, and self-control, firmness, patience, and kindness. Then he should be well trained so as to understand the duties of feeding, grooming, and harnessing thoroughly, and be able to ride and drive with care, judgment, and efficiency. Ignorance and carelessness are responsible for most of the mishaps which occur both in the stable and at work. Imperfect grooming, excessive, deficient, or irregular feeding or watering, are all inimical to health. Whenever a horse is laid idle, the rations should at once undergo a decrease. A well-groomed horse is easily recognized by his cleanness, his glossy coat, and well-cared-for appearance. Evidence of undue haste in grooming, slovenliness, or carelessness is generally to be found in the unclean, untidy condition of the mane and tail. When cleaning, in addition to attention to mane and tail, any discharge about the eyes and nostrils should be carefully removed, also the skin round the anus cleaned, etc.
In addition to seeing that his horse is well groomed, it is the groom's duty to have his harness thoroughly cleaned and well fitting, and likewise to keep the stable pure, sweet, and clean, free from draughts, and of an equal temperature. Anyone when approaching a horse for any purpose, should always by word advise the horse of his intention. The omission to do this has been the cause of many accidents. The horse should never be taken by surprise; it startles and enervates him.
The old saying that "it is the pace that kills" is a very true one, and is frequently exemplified both in riding and driving. The way in which a horse is handled in saddle and in harness will, to a large extent, govern the amount he can do in either case.
Most horses, when treated intelligently, are tractable and readily obey when properly educated, and the majority of unmanageable horses are the result of ignorant or incapable handling. Occasionally, however, horses are met with which the most efficient care and handling fail to render serviceable; indeed, some are more or less insane, and when heated or excited absolutely uncontrollable.