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Maria Israelsson is the Head Show Groom for Irish Nations Cup rider, Shane Sweetnam of Sweet Oak Farm. Maria is originally from Sweden and has worked as a show jumping groom for 16+ years. She previously worked at top showjumping yards in Europe, like Stal Tops and Zangersheide, before moving to the U.S. 7 years ago. Maria has been with Shane for 4.5 years. Maria’s favorite thing about being a groom is, of course, spending time with the horses, getting to know them, and figuring out what routine works best for each of them. She also loves to travel and feels lucky to get to spend time both in the U.S. and Europe working for Shane.
- Which horses do you work with at Shane's?
I groom and manage Shane’s competition horses together with one other groom. We normally have between 6-10 horses in our care.
- What are some tips you've learned as a top groom that you want other people to know?
Being a good groom is about hard work, being able to organize your day, and using your head. You need an eye for detail and have some skin on your nose. That means, you have to be a little bit tough and be able to handle some stress and pressure. There will for sure be times when people are rude to you. I was lucky to work under some really good managers when I was younger and they always took everything with ease and were very organized.
- What do you like to do when you're not working with the horses?
When we have some quiet time, I like to go out for dinners, go shopping and go jogging.
- What has been your best experience while grooming for Shane?
My best experience while working with Shane was when our team did well at the European Championships in Gothenburg with Chaqui Z.
- Which horse has been your favorite to take care of all time?
- What does your day look like at a show? (getting the horses ready, therapies, etc)
A typical day at the show starts early, especially here in America. We normally feed and do normal mornings chores between 5.30-6.30am. I like to get some hand walking or lunging done early, first thing if possible. Then we either have a class or Shane comes to ride.
The older horses get the magnetic blanket on before showing and ice boots after jumping. It all depends on the horse. We use Velocity on the legs and back and 4 bandages at night. I like to keep it simple, but I do prioritize having the horses out a lot and ice boots.
Finishing up in the afternoon, we clean stalls again and feed. I try to keep to the same feeding times as home if possible.
- What is the biggest thing you've learned from working with Shane?
Working for Shane is all about being organized and being 2 steps ahead.
- What is your favorite horse show?
- What are some of the tools/products you have to have at the shows?
I like to keep things as simple as possible. As far as grooming goes, I use a lot of Showsheen, a good liniment-type product, like Velocity, and an antibiotic cream for any cuts or scratches.
- What characteristics do you like in a top horse?
I think the most important characteristic in a top horse is their mentality. They have to be smart and want to work with you.