DIARY OF FREELANCE GROOM

So the week had come where everyone in the equine world faces Gloucestershire. Badminton!!!! Grooms and riders always feel the pressure leading up to this event and this year was no different due to the lack of runs. I was grooming at Giovanni and Kathryns again and they had one horse ‘Cult Rewind’ heading there, unfortunately as mentioned last month Kathryn lost her top horse who was due to compete. The stress levels were all low until ‘Hero’ pulled a shoe the Tuesday morning!!!Gio and Sophie were meant to be leaving in the afternoon!! Luckily they have a great farrier Martyn and he drove from over an hour away to put it back on and all was ok! Sophie their brilliant head girl and I were meant to be grooming there, one groom for each rider. But now with just one horse going I was staying at home with work rider Deborah and keeping the yard going. This meant general yard duties, hacking and lunging. The horses had to be galloped while gio was away to keep up with their fitness so Kathryn also came back from Badminton to do this with Deborah.

Gio won the best dressed male at the trot up and ‘hero’ looked amazing due to Sophie’s had work and copious amounts of purple shampoo. Her nickname is ‘top’ for being such a top groom. A score of 39.2 was given in the dressage. Gio was very happy with this as hero can blow up in this phase and is quite tricky.  XC day on the yard was busy. Deborah and I had decided to get up early and get the horses exercised we had 6 to do before the xc started. We did manage to get everything done and turned some horses out for the day. The owners of the yard, Julie Tew and her lovely parents opened up their house and put the cross country on the tv all day for us. It was a challenging day for a few riders and the ground was sapping the energy from a lot of horses but gio managed to get around clear with a few time faults .YESSSSS!!!! We did end up finishing the yard a little later than normal but we didn’t mind. Then it was off to the Badminton party by the lake to catch up with friends and the gossip of the day.

Back to the normal routine on the Sunday as the young horses were going xc schooling on Monday. We did manage to catch Gio’s show jumping round on the live stream where he just tapped one rail. What a great weekend for the team and I am glad to be a part of it.  

Miles Covered 65

After a day off on Monday I travelled to one of my favourite clients- the Hope family.  I have been working with this family since I became freelance and they are great fun to be around.  We were heading up to Floors Castle in Scotland on the Wednesday for the 2* cic. Eleanor would be competing ‘Smarty and Bridget’ we would also be taking Izzy Riley an Irish young rider for the 1* and a horse that the Hopes own for Izzy Taylor to compete.

Tuesday was full of trimming and tidying the horses and giving them baths after Ellie had ridden them. Izzy Riley also arrived today as she is based just down the road at Austin O’Connors. We packed the lorry and knew it would be a tight squeeze with the 4 on board but managed to get everything in.  If you are only staying away for a few nights it is a lot easier to make up the horses feeds into carrier bags and pop their names on them, than it is to pack large feedbags. Supplements can be added but also stored in smaller containers. This saves a lot of space.  We set off about 9 Wednesday morning after all of the horses had a 40 min leg stretch on the walker.  The journey would take about 7 hours and to keep legal I needed a 45 min stop. This was ok though as it meant we could check and water the horses. The girls were also popping back to check them while we were on the move. We travelled up the M40-M42-M6(toll)-M6 all the way to Carlise then A7 into Scotland. We reached Floors at about 5.30 and took the horses off for a leg stretch and then the girls just hacked around the grounds. The scenery is stunning at this venue and well worth the drive. The ground is good and the stables although off site are nice as they are at the race course.

Ellie did nice safe tests on the 2* horses and then went onto jumping with smarty having two down but Bridget clear. The xc was a bold and inviting track but unfortunalty Ellie took a tumble on Bridget at the 6th fence and came off giving herself a bang on the leg.  This meant that she was a bit sore and didn’t feel safe to take smarty xc so we withdrew him. Ellie was very disappointed but it was for the best. Izzy Riely had a better day and after a not so great dressage she had a lovely double clear in the 1*. The Hope horse ‘Harley’ that we travelled up for Izzy Taylor to ride also did well in the 1* and was placed 7th, great as he is only a young horse. We left Floors at about 5pm and eventually arrived home at 1am Saturday morning.

We got up at about 9the next day, as the members of staff had already fed the horses. We trotted our ones up that had come back from Floors, they were all good and spent a lovely day off in the field. However for Ellie and I it was no day off, we were off to Aston-le –walls with a novice ‘limestone Romeo’ who needs to qualify for tatts 1* young horse class. I plaited him at home and off we went. The journey was not only about an hour and Ellie looked and felt good after her fall yesterday. Romeo was such a good boy and produced a good dressage and a lovely double clear with a few time to finish 8th. Great form for tatts at the end of the month. Off we went to home where I had to plait Abbey Prince up for the next day.

Sunday it was back up to Aston-le –walls with Abbey Prince and the youngest member of the Hope family,, Gini, in the UA pony club section. Prince is a little legend and has been in the family since Millie the eldest daughter competed him in pony trials ,he has done badminton grass roots and also been to ‘Horse of the year show’. Gini and prince scored a 32.9 but had a naughty little stop in the sj. She then flew around the xc a little too fast but was clear with smiles all around! Then it was off tho the pancake stand for lunch. Then off home to recover from a busy week!

Miles covered 898

 The next week was rather quiet and after a little mini break at my parents  down by Bournemouth I was back to work at Gio and Kathryn’s yard while they were competing at Rockingham international. I really enjoy working for these two and they are seriously the nicest couple in eventing. I also like going back to a structured yard and doing normal yard duties as I think it helps with my fitness. Rockingham was a great success for the Cranford Stud team and they had placing’s all across the board and a winner in the novice. A great weekend for the team.

 Miles covered 65

So now is the start of the crazy three day event period with potentially 4 back to back 3de in a row. I was off to Houghton International with Andrew James and 3 horses. Two of them competing in the 3*cic and one had come along to do some BSJ classes which run alongside the event. I ended up driving Charlotte Bacon and her lorry up from home as she had been let down with somewhere to stay but this ended up working well and I just met Andrew at Houghton. ‘Hold me Down’ aka Scooby did his dressage first and did a 34.7 with much improvement from the last time I saw him at the end of last year. ‘Benelux Casion Royal’ aka George produced a 38.7. This was great for him as it is his first 3* and he is relatively green at this level. In between dressage we had a few show jumping classes with Cleo who had become a little unnerved about jumping a round since she had injured herself at Gatcome in the spring by an overreach. She just needed to do a few sj rounds with no pressure and learn that she wasn’t going to step on herself again. Sometimes it is very beneficial to do this with horses that have lost confidence in themselves or even in you as a rider. As we were only in the cic 3* this meant that there was no trot up for us and the boys went on to show jump on the Saturday afternoon. Both of them jumped a lovely clear round and only had a second of time between them. That evening Andrew’s wife ‘Rachel’ and son Charlie came to join us as well as ‘Georges’ owners and we had a lovely BBQ with a few gins and beers consumed! Rachel used to be a groom and finds it very strange watching someone else get Andrew’s horses ready but it is a real honour to know that she trusts me and knows that the horses are in good care. Cross Country day was quite warm and the sun was shining. George went first and Andrew rode a great clear with a few time faults. This was great as like i said before he is new to this level but seemed to take it all in his stride. Scooby also was clear with a few time faults but Andrew was pleased with him. We all held our breath though at the last fence because last year in Waregam(belguim) he pecked on landing at the last and didn’t make it to the finish. The boys will now head for Bramham CIC3* in a few weeks. I iced the boys before they were loaded on to the truck and then waited for Charlotte to finish in the cci2* yr class. We pack up her lorry and then started the journey home. She didn’t have a great week but was pleased with the 1* horse who stepped up to this level. Unfortunately the 2* horse did not wow the selectors for the young rider European championships short list and charlotte will now give the ride back to his owner who has finished uni for the year.  On the way home we had a slight drama and got a puncture! This was my first experience of this in a lorry and we pulled over safely in to a service station. We were still 2 hours away from home! Charlotte called NFU and they organised a road side assistance to come and rescue us. We waited two hour and then the man and his van turned up with a new tyre. It was essential we got the pressure checked on the new one and all around now because the lorry was travelling to Ireland on Tuesday. Then Finally we were on the way home and the rest of the journey went smoothly.   

Miles covered 272

 At Home I unpacked and repacked ready for my next three day. This time it was off the Ireland to Tattersalls International with Eleanor Hope, MGH smarty, Limestone Romeo. We also had Izzy Taylors ride ‘Harley Rebel’ on board for the journey. We had to leave on the Monday evening as Romeo and Harley had a trot up on the Tuesday for the young horse 1* class, whereas smarty had his 2* trot on the Wednesday. The journey to Holyhead takes about 5 hours and on the way we took a break and watered the horses also grabbing a coffee. The port was so busy and I think there weer about 20 horse boxes all waiting to load. The ferry loaded just before 2am and because it was so busy we were unable to put our ramp down to help air circulate in to the back of the lorry. If you are travelling on a ferry it is good practice to try and get the ramp down but make sure you ask the stewards as you drive on. Also make sure that your horse on the end, if you have one there, is comfortable with the noise and other traffic coming in. For more circulation some Lorries have fans and always make sure your windows are fully open. This may help reduce shipping fever, remember to take temperatures before you leave.

We arrived at Tatts at about 7am . The vet checked the horses’ passports and we went to find our stables. Unloading the lorry was a bit manic as everyone else who had arrived was also doing the same thing but soon we were finished. The horses were fed and watered and I let them rest for a few hours.  After setting up camp at the lorry and a bit of brekkie it was time to get to work. Ellie was just going to give the boys a light hack about to make sure the felt relaxed and limber. Trot up was later that afternoon for Romeo and smarty had another day to relax. Both horses had their temps taken and they were both feeling great according to Ellie.

Both boys passed their relevant trot up and went on to the dressage phase. Romeo was in a very competitive class and received a score of 35.2. Smarty was a little tricky in his test and had a spook and was not moving like he can and scored a 36.7 in the young riders 2*. Romeo had xc on the Friday and he was raring to go. Ellie got him around clear within the time and she was thrilled with him. The weather was muggy and washing him off was tricky because he was reheating. Giving horses a good long proper walking wash off helps them and their muscles to recover better. Once back at the stables I put ice on all around and gave in an electrolyte paste. I iced ¾ more times until I was happy with his legs and bandaged him up to the night taking them both out for grass before bed.  Sat was a busy morning as I had to trot up Romeo and show jump and somewhere in between it all was smartys xc . Romeo passed trot up and them went back to bed for a few hours. Smarty’s class was running mid morning and  it was also becoming muggy and hot again. He warmed up well and off she went.  The commentary sounded good and before I knew it she was nearly home but them at fence 18 she had a run out, Ellie managed to represent and then had another 20. She then got him over it third time lucky. They came across the finish line and she jumped off. We then started washing Smarty but it was obvious that he was beginning to tie up. Tying up or azoturia as it can be known, is a muscle cramping condition.  It causes the muscles along the back and the rump of the horse to contact and then they do not relax.  We had to keep washing him, and getting him cool and as soon as I could go back to the stables I did. Once in the stables it was very clear that he had tied up as his back end could barely move. I gave him and electrolyte paste, called the vet and made him as comfortable as possible.  The vet came and arranged for him to have some fluid through and IV.  Before this was set up I had to get Romeo ready for sj. Ellie was very worried and the vet set up the IV. I had to keep watch on smarty and could not go Show jumping with Ellie. Her dad went to give her a hand warming up and she jumped a lovely round but unfortunalty rolled a pole. Still we were all very pleased with Romeo.

Smarty was on his drip for an hour or so and had 30 litres of fluid. We then decided to with draw him as he had two stops and he was in a bit of pain. We then gave him some bute so that he would become more comfortable. We all went up to the party for a little bit but didn’t feel like staying for long as I had decided we were going to get the 8am ferry home on the Sunday if smarty looked fit to travel. He was fine and I gave him a little bit more bute and we packed up and left collecting another horse on the way that the Hopes had brought. The journey home was long and we got back to the yard at about 6. Smarty looked ok if a little stiff when he got off of the lorry, Romeo looked great if not a little tired and the new horse looked happy to have a new home. I left the Hopes and made my way back home almost glad that I wouldn’t be doing that journey during the night like most of my friends would be tonight. Not the most successful trip but at least the horses and Eleanor came home unlike poor Jonty Evans who had a nasty fall and is currently in hospital. Lets hope he will be ok.  

Miles covered 756              Miles covered this month 2056