Good luck to all the Olympic Grooms
The Australian eventing grooms from left to right: Emily Young-Jamieson (Lucinda Fredericks), Alexandra Van Tyll (Andrew Hoy), Mouse Berry (Sam Griffiths), Elizabeth Coleclough (Christopher Burton), Lisa Baker (Clayton Fredericks)
Photo: Equestrian Australia
There is no doubt that a good groom is vital to the smooth running of any equestrian team. It doesn’t matter if you are riding in an introductory class or at the Olympics, having a good person behind the scenes who keeps your horse happy and well looked after is something that you cannot put a price on.
From a groom's point of view if you are working for an elite rider it’s always fun to take the ‘baby’ horses out to their first events at the lower level, but to join that same rider on their journey to an Olympic Games is really something amazing.
To groom at an Olympics makes you a part of a very special group of people. The usual group of horse, rider and groom expands to include team managers, coaches, vets, farriers and you will always have a special ‘bond’ with these people that you work with during the Olympics. To stand and watch ‘your horse and rider’ being presented with a medal is surely the ultimate ‘buzz’ for any groom and something the Aussie groom will no doubt be hoping to experience.
The work the grooms have to do at London will be pretty much like any other international event. They have already got their horses ready for the first trot up and now half of them will be busy preparing their horses for dressage day today. There is a fair chance that the riders will want to work their horses prior to the warm up for their test for so, for those grooms with riders on this morning it will have been an early start to the day. Once a rider has finished their first ride of the day the groom will to wash of their horse and start to get them ready for the dressage test. Studs will be chosen and plaits will be put in. Most grooms will know that if a rider says they will be back at the stables to get on their horse at say 9.30am it’s a good idea to have the horse ready at 9.20am – nothing worse than having a rider hanging around the stables waiting for you tack up and looking worried!
The Scotts motto of ‘Be prepared’ is one that could certainly be the same for grooms!
Once dressage is over the horses are washed down, un-plaited and given time to chill out. A walk out for a pick of grass will probably be on the itinerary later in the day.
The rest of dressage day is spent making sure everything is ready for the next phase cross country and trying to keep an eye on how other team members are going.
Cross country day at any event means a hive of activity and at London the grooms will probably find themselves doing something like this:
Feed horse, muck out, do the usual – something’s never change.
Take horse for a pick of grass avoiding any cross country excitement
Pop him back in a stable and triple check that everything is ready for cross country.
Start to get your horse ready, trying very hard to leave until as late as possible so you are not hassling the horse the whole time, whilst at the same time giving yourself enough time to deal with things like that last stud that just wont go in!
Then it’s off to cross country, trying to stay calm and once your rider is off you run to watch the best TV coverage you can find.
When your rider comes through the finish (and lets not even think about any other possibility) it’s time for full focus on the horse. The vets will work with you to ensure your horse is cooled down and once that happens you can take him back to the stable.
On the walk back to the stables a few compulsory hugs of horse, rider and anybody else you happen to pass is necessary! They are all home in one piece and things are looking good.
A short time later your horse will be in his stable munching on his hay and you will either be helping the rest of the team or starting to clean tack and organize things for show jumping day.
Show jumping day
Let’s think positive – your horse pulled up well and is looking fully fit for the trot up and all you have to do is take him out for a walk in the morning and then get him ready for the vets inspection.
We’ll avoid those stories of grooms only getting a few hours sleep as they monitor their horses through cross country night …
After you pass the trot up you are on the home run – but don’t stop yet.
After some time in his stable it is time to get your horse ready for show jumping, giving that bridle a final polish and then your rider jumps on and all you have to do is hope that those rails stay up and everyone finishes with a smile on their face.
It’s over! You take your horse back to the stable and breathe a sigh of relief … then do the usual. Wash down your horse, take studs and plaits out, refill water buckets, clean tack … and take a moment to realize you have done a great job and have been part of that very special Olympic team.
Grooms do an amazing job and your riders could not be where they are without you – savour each and every moment of the Games and good luck to each and every one of you!
And on the lighter side ...
What do you get when you Google ‘a groom’?
A person employed to clean and look after horses –these days the job goes well beyond that.
You just have to get rid of those unsightly hairs on your horses chin somehow
Comb and disentangle
What you need to do to the mane before you plait up
Mousse and gel
These products are great for flattening those bits of mane that just wont lie down
To make oneself clean and presentable
Every good groom knows how to put on their own make up in two minutes without using a mirror
Manicure and pedicure
Hopefully the blacksmith has taken care of putting the shoes on but the groom is there with hoof oil to put a shine on things
Cut the mane … never. But of course the tail is regularly trimmed
Equine make up for those slightly imperfect areas
Every groom needs at least good deodorant or nice perfume in her grooming kit after running around all day!
NB: We hope we have the correct grooms names right in the photo at top of article. There were quite a few last minute changes which were difficult to keep up with. If we're wrong please let us know