Friday, May 23, 2014

The Horse That God Built's Groom

A groom, whether for race horses, grand prix Olympic show jumpers or an amateur horse show rider is worth their weight in gold.  I got to thinking about this as I started reading The Horse That God Built which is the story about Secretariat's groom, Eddie Sweat.

It's one of those "stay up until 4 am" books and I can't put it down.  No one has given us the story of the dedicated Eddie Sweat and the story is fascinating for anyone who has ever had a deep bond with a horse.  Others may not "get it." Author Lawrence Scanlan makes a convincing case that Sweat was instrumental in keeping his horse healthy and happy, a necessary precondition for the success of any equine athlete. Extrapolating from the relationship between Secretariat and Sweat, Scanlan argues, again convincingly, that grooms are the largely unappreciated and universally underpaid bedrock upon which the entire edifice of Thoroughbred racing is built. His point is driven home by the poignant circumstances of Eddie Sweat's death in 1998. While Secretariat's owner and trainer gained both fame and wealth through their association with the horse, the groom died penniless and-until now-unknown to all but a few racing insiders.

I also read somewhere that California Chrome's groom Raul Rodriguez has slept in the stall with
the horse since he won the Derby earlier this month. The Blood Horse did a wonderful story on him, and you can access the video here. 

 (California Chrome and Raul Rodriguez)

In 2010, the New York Times ran a piece about race horse grooms.  It also sheds some light on how hard these people work and how dedicated they are to their horses.  You can read it here

 (Statue of Secretariat with Groom Eddie Sweat, Ky Horse Park in Lexington - How Appropriate is This?)

Grooms are the unsung heroes of the horse world - for anyone who competes at a high level in any horse-related discipline knows how hard it is to do it all by yourself.  I can attest to that as well, as when showing, working, riding, keeping a farm going, you need help from someone who really knows how to properly take care of these athletes.  That's what they are!

 (Eddie Sweat with Secretariat)

I'll be thinking about California Chrome's groom in two more weeks.  How much is he to be commended for his horse's success?  Probably a lot more than any of us think.  We need more people like Eddie Sweat in this world, don't we?


  1. Yes, we do, and Eddie is one of my heroes. I am SO glad that he was included in the magnificent statue at KYP, and that just gave me one more reason to love Penny Chenery because more than anyone else it was her doing. I have read that book and another about Eddie, and the photo of him with his plaid suitcase (he did love plaid!) after leaving Red at Claiborne absolutely breaks my heart every time.

    I already thought California Chrome was special but having his owner mention Raul in his Preakness speech - that just cemented my support. CLASSY MOVE, Mr. Coburn. Win or lose the Belmont, you have done an awful lot for racing already and have won the hearts of horse lovers everywhere.

  2. Great book, great people... thanks for compiling some other good reads on Grooms that I want to check out!


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