THP's Groom Elite Program 

The Groom Elite Program is the Texas Horsemen's Partnership's groundbreaking program consisting of a ten-week course covering 30 topics designed to teach stable area employees horse handling skills and to insure that they are competent and knowledgeable in equine care. Each graduate receives a Certificate of Completion and a "Groom Elite" jacket. The Groom Elite Program was developed the THP and originally supervised by former THP Board member Sue O'Hara. The program is now administered by The Elite Program, Inc. Executive Director, Dr. Reid McClellan. The program is available to all licensed horsemen at the tracks where it is conducted.

In the spring of 2001, the THP's Groom Elite Program came to fruition, holding its first formal classes at Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie. Under the direction of THP Board member Susan O'Hara, the ten-week course designed to teach stable area employees horse handling skills was a smashing success. Taught by Dr. Doug Householder, the course met with enthusiastic support from both the horsemen at Lone Star Park and the national racing press.

On June 12, 2001, the Groom Elite Program graduated its first class of 35, all having completed the ten-week course and passed a thorough final examination. Just a few weeks later, Groom Elite 101 was offered at Sam Houston Race Park, where it also met with positive response.

The Groom Elite Program expanded in 2002, offering the basic Groom Elite 101 class and a more advanced Groom Elite 201 course. In the summer of 2002, Colonial Downs became the first track outside of Texas to offer Groom Elite 101.

Through 2006, Groom Elite 101 was taught over 25 times at 17 tracks in 12 states and indirectly influenced thousands of grooms, hot walkers, and exercise riders that attended short courses and observed one or more Elite Program classes. Classes and all written course materials are offered in both English and Spanish.

The Texas Horsemen's Partnership, local Texas owners and Texas' three Class I racetracks provided initial financial and in-kind support to establish that first class at Lone Star Park. As the program moved outside the borders of Texas, financial support was received from national equine organizations and businesses plus owners and trainers of racehorses in the areas where classes were offered.

Grooms that completed Groom Elite 101 asked for additional training. Owners, trainers, farm grooms and youth groups asked for similar opportunities. Development of classes for those groups plus increasing demand for Groom Elite classes strained the resources of this primarily volunteer organization.

In 2005, a full time Executive Director was hired, and The Elite Program opened an office in Lexington, Kentucky to facilitate formalization of the complete Elite Program offering. In 2006 The Elite Program participated in the planning and development of the North American Racing Academy, a vehicle that furthered The Elite Program’s mission of providing outstanding equine education at no-cost to front-line equine care workers and at minimal cost to others.

Our expanded website is available at To contact us, please call 859-321-4552.