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Marta Masocco: “It is all about the team”

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
Nicola Philippaerts' show groom Marta Masocco. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

Marta Masocco has a job many would envy her: She works for Belgian super-star Nicola Philippaerts, and has done so for a bit more than two years. Next to her grooming, Marta is well known for amazing cakes and desserts – extremely popular among her colleagues of course.

When it comes to her job as a groom, Masocco is convinced that a good teamwork makes the whole difference: “It is all about the team. If you don’t create a good relationship with the ones you work with, you don’t like to go to work and some of the others might make your day difficult. So just try to make it easy. The basic in every stable is talking. If you have a problem and you keep it to yourself you just make it worse. Maybe the problem is just in your mind? It is always better to talk it out and you can have it solved in five minutes. Otherwise the risk is that you wait until you have ten problems in your head and then you explode,” Marta says.

Marta spends most of her time at shows, and has about three weeks a year without being on the road. But as soon as she is home she makes sure to fill up the stable fridge with cheesecake, tiramisu and other deserts. “They work so hard so I like to spoil them,” she says.

Marta is famous in the jumping world for her cooking and baking, but how on earth does she get time to do it: “It relaxes me to cook. People often ask me how I learned how to cook, and I always answer that I’m Italian and have it in my blood,” Marta answers and continues “When I’m home it is a bit of a challenge, because I have so many dinners.”

Even though she grew up with horses, with her mum having a big riding school until Marta was 15, it was not a given thing that she would end up working with horses. That decision was more made after doing a favour for a friend. “It wasn’t really planned that I would make a career as a groom, but I liked it and continued. I worked for an Italian rider that moved to Belgium so I moved with him. It was a big different to come from Italy to Belgium, and I enjoyed it!”

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
“I’m a very organized and clean person – I never run out of notes or Dettol. The rest of the grooms are often having a laugh at me and are of the opinion that I have a cleaning disorder," Marta tells.

After a while Marta moved on and started to work for Francois Mathy Sr. and his rider at the time, Marc Bettinger. “I was there for 2,5 years before I got the chance to start working for Christian Ahlmann, after his long time groom Emma decided to stop. I liked it there, but I didn’t stay for long. I think I wasn’t ready for such a big job at that moment. Instead I started as a freelance groom and did that for about 1,5 year. “

“I spend most of my time as a freelancer in Wellington and at Spruce Meadows, and I also helped out for Henrik von Eckermann for a while. I really liked to see several different ways of working and that was the point of me starting as a freelancer – to see and learn. I didn’t want to rush into a new job, but still stay in the sport and learn new things,” Marta explains.

“When I was at Spruce Meadows over the summer I got the job at Philippaerts. They were there as well and Nicola was looking for a groom. A friend of mine put me in contact with him. It is a big dealing stable and with four brothers riding it is starting to get really busy. You have to be adaptable and flexible,” Marta laughs and continues: “We are divided into teams and Nicola’s team consists of me as show groom and two home grooms/riders. Olivier has the same set-up and then there are two grooms for the children.”

The Philippaerts have two stables – one for the show horses and one, ten minutes away, for the dealing horses. “Nicola has nine horses for the moment. Earlier we had a lot of stallions, which I prefer, but now we have more mares and fewer boys. I can’t really say that I have a proper favourite - I like them all. But I do have a bit more feelings for H&M Harley vd Bisschop, H&M Zilverstar T and of course Chilli Willi.”

“Harley is a really easy horse, but he is quite bloody with a lot of attention to everything that happens around him. And he can react quite a lot on noises. But when you get him confidence he is so nice. Chilli Willi is the prince of the stable – since he is so big he always gets a double box at shows. He is also a very sweet stallion and the only time I might have some problems with him is at the vet-check – there he might go up on two legs and try to show off. Zilverstar on the other hand is a bit the naughty boy of the stable.  He is a gelding, but acts like a stallion. Then we have our little queen – Ustina Sitte. For the rest I only have huge horses, but Ustina is really small and tiny. She likes to sleep all day long.”

“I’m a very organized and clean person – I never run out of notes or Dettol. The rest of the grooms are often having a laugh at me and are of the opinion that I have a cleaning disorder,” Marta laughs and continues: “If I don’t have everything under control or something goes out of line, I can get quite stressed. I like to know what will happen next,” Marta says.

Even though Marta really likes her job, she has no plan of doing this forever: “In the future I might work as a stable manager to still be around horses. But I have also been thinking about opening a restaurant – in Belgium or maybe the USA!” 


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Text and photos (c) World of Showjumping. 

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