We caught up with former Haddon Training learner Grace Bartholomew who now runs her own business, VIP Horse Transport, to discuss her experiences, future goals and what advice she has for apprentices.
“I started VIP Horse Transport in September 2018. To begin with I just offered short journeys but after completing my Long journey transport test I now offer long journeys as well.
I offer a complete grooming and transport package so I can travel to competitions with people and groom for them on the day as well as do the driving. My horsebox is a Bloomfields Professional which was specially built to transport horses, has a full stallion partition, air conditioning and full heat control.
My mum helps me with the admin side of things, and as my Dad runs a haulage company he is a huge source of inspiration and knowledge.
I also work at Bell Equine Vet practice two days a week which has helped me to learn a lot especially how horses’ behaviour can alter in different situations.
I made the decision to run my own business after I spotted a gap in the market, there was nobody offering transportation with a complete grooming package. I advertised on facebook and within the first hour had my first two jobs booked.
It’s such a rewarding job, I get to meet so many people and have new experiences. I have a couple of weddings booked in where I will take the bride/groom’s horse to the wedding and groom for them for the day as well.
I experience a few challenges, one is not being told the full story about a horse. If I have all of the information I can make sure the horsebox is prepared correctly to ensure they have the smoothest travel.
Another is uninsured/unqualified transporters undercutting prices but I have learnt that it is best to rise above this issue, I won’t cut my prices to get business as I know I offer a unique high quality service.
My age can put people off, I have had people question whether I am old enough to drive, but I have put in the hours with my training and working experiences. Having grown up with horses and around a haulage business has definitely helped.
My experience as a competition rider on other people’s horses taught me how to speak to people with tact and diplomacy, which is hugely important in this business.
I am looking forward to the future, my dream is to have my own fleet of lorries doing international trips, I don’t know whether it will be in the next five years or longer, but that is my ultimate goal.
My experience as a Haddon Learner was brilliant. Haddon Training have been so supportive during my time with them. I had my own horses to compete at the same time as my apprenticeship so they were great at being flexible to find a way to let me get all of my coursework done. I couldn’t have got the qualifications I have without them.
The Long distance lorry package was the whole package with the information and support I needed to pass the qualification.
For anyone looking to do an apprenticeship Grace has this advice:
– Don’t rush into it, I went the week after my 16th Birthday and now I wish I had stayed at school for longer to give me a bit more time to have some fun before going to work. And it’s never too late to change your career and start and apprenticeship, so do what you need to do!
– Good accommodation would be a draw for me, its good to have somewhere nice to relax and live in outside of work.
– Pick your yard carefully the smaller, family run yards can often offer you more help and support than the big professional yards.
– Make sure you know what your rights and working hours are, we all know that working with horses isn’t a nine to five job, but there is a limit to what people should reasonably expect.
Be strong, you are no less than anyone else.”
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