KINGSTON, Jamaica – The grooming of horses, without doubt, is a challenging job that takes up a lot of time, hard work, and dedication.
Despite all of these stiff conditions, Carlton Brown, who has been a licensed groom at Caymanas Park for 41 years, said that he enjoys his work of taking care of horses.
“I enjoy my work. It is my profession, and it is my way of living. It is where I get my income from, and so I have to dedicate myself to it. I got my groom’s licence from 1979, and that is a very long time ago, and here I am still doing my job.
“The situation is that sometimes issues are there with the work. Issues like pay as you have your kids to go to school, rent to pay and bills to pay, it gets you frustrated every time, but you have to live up to the expectations and standards and work towards better in the future,” Brown said.
Although not being able to win a Classic race, Brown said that he is grateful for the way his career has gone over the years.
“The first race I won was with a horse named Sunny Love for trainer Anthony Brown. I won a lot of races around him with horses such as Regard, Here Comes The Thief, and Young Robert. Everyone wants to win their races, and that makes you feel good. It makes you feel excellent as a groom in the business.
“I have never groomed a big horse, but I am grateful for my winners. When you get a big horse like a Derby contender or a Triple Crown horse, you would feel better. The best horse I have looked after was Young Robert, basically because he won the most races for me,” Brown said while absorbing the winning feeling.
Brown continued: “The top trainers are the ones with the better horses than the smaller trainers due mainly to the owners who purchase the better horses. The biggest trainer I worked with was Percy Hussey, and I did well around him until he retired. I am now around Louis Richards at present, and I am hoping for the best. I have three horses – She’s A Hit, Akash, and a two-year-old, and so I am hoping for the best right now.”
Brown shared his journey in becoming a groom at Caymanas Park.
“I came into racing through my grandfather, who at the time worked at Melvin Park Stud and Stables as the gateman there. My grandfather never wanted me to come around the horses as he used to tell me to go to school and learn a trade. But I wanted to be a jockey, and I wouldn’t let him stop me from doing that. That was when I was at St John’s Road [Melvin Park], and so I left and came to Caymanas Park.
“The first trainer I went around was Ivan Smith, but his stables were at Newlands. Smith’s stables were far from Caymanas Park, and so I left from there and came to the park around a trainer named Kenneth Dwyer. I didn’t like the situation at Dwyer’s stables and had to move to Ronald Blake. I exercised horses for Blake.
“I then moved on to trainer Howard McKenzie, but I never got to ride because, at the time, they wanted to give Clive Beech the upper hand more than me. Beech was more financially put together than me, so it would have been easier for him, although I was the better rider. From there, I became a groom, and I am still in the business. The job is not that difficult as it depends on the horses that you have to deal with, as sometimes horses are unruly, and that gives you a warm time, and some horses are not unruly, and you have things easy,” shared Brown.