Getting a horse to and through a three-day takes a village. Ask any professional rider and they’ll admit that there’s no way they could do it without their team — in particular, their groom.
And yet grooms remain the unsung heroes of the eventing world. They work hard not for ribbons or victory gallops, but for the feeling of satisfaction at the end of the day that they’ve done everything possible to support the health and happiness of the horses in their care.
The PRO Liz Cochran Memorial Groom’s Award, which includes a $5,000 cash gift, is awarded annually to recognize one individual who exemplifies the characteristics of a top groom: expert horsemanship and a work ethic that powers an entire program, making it possible for their riders and horses to be successful. Past recipients include:
2011: Lindsey Taylor, groom for Boyd Martin
2012: Emma Ford, groom for Phillip Dutton
2013: Kathleen Blauth, groom for Buck Davidson
2014: Stacey Driscoll, groom for Ryan Wood
2015: Shannon Kinsley, groom for Lauren Kieffer
The award had a significant impact on each recipient.
Blauth, who received the award in 2013, explains, “Receiving the PRO Liz Cochran Memorial Groom Award was life changing for me. It allowed my kids to receive a better education, and it is very important to me that this grant continues for other grooms such as myself, so they can give back to the people that matter to them. This award is one of the only existing opportunities for grooms to be recognized for their countless hours of hard work behind the scenes. It is crucial for this grant to continue, because it inspires young people to groom at the top of the sport.”
Ford echoes her sentiments: “To win the award in 2012 made me very proud of my journey to becoming a professional groom. To be given that recognition meant so much, especially when grooms are seen as ‘behind the scenes’ people. Riders have competition goals to aim for, and this award gives grooms something to aim to achieve in their careers.”
Until now the award has been made possible thanks to a generous annual donation by the Luftkin Family Foundation and a private benefactor. The private benefactor pledged their support for half of the award the first two years with the Lufkin Family Foundation contributing the other half. Since that time, PRO has contributed in place of the original private benefactor to keep the award going, but they need our help to ensure that its continuance.
PRO is seeking to raise $100,000, which generate $5,000 interest annually, toward a fund that would endow the award in perpetuity. The Lufkin Foundation has generously agreed to donate half the amount and PRO is calling on its members to raise the remaining half in matching donations.
Karen O’Connor, Sharon White and Max Corcoran issued a plea for support in a letter yesterday:
Our grooms are remarkable in more ways than can be described, and we feel it would be a true loss for this award to no longer exist recognizing their contribution to the sport of eventing. They are already recognized so little for all they do, and they do it proudly and with passion. Because of this, we ask that you take a moment to reflect and consider helping us make it possible for the PRO Liz Cochran Memorial Groom Award to become endowed by making a donation for us to match The Lufkin Foundation’s contribution … Your donation, no matter the size, is so important to our grooms. As a member of the eventing community, please help us to honor the people who do so much to care for and honor our horses.
Tax-deductible donations can be easily made by sending a check to the USEA Foundation, which is recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)3.
525 Old Waterford Rd. NW
Leesburg, VA 20176
Find out more information about this and other PRO awards here.