With Badminton almost upon us, I wanted to research how important the people surrounding us are when leading up to an event. I went to visit Gemma Tattersall and her team at their yard in West Sussex. Gemma is a true rising star of Eventing with her sights not only set for Badminton and Blair in 2015 but also for the Olympics in Rio.
One of Gemma’s main rides is the lovely Arctic Soul (Spike to his friends!) Spike is lined up for Badminton and the European Championships this year. Artic Soul is a typical TB in that he needs time to settle in at an event, so he requires plenty of walking and lunging before the main event so the team will arrive on Tuesday.
Gemma will be taking two team members with her to Badminton, Mrs Tattersall (Mummy) and Elodie. Elodie is Gemma’s PA and takes care of everything from entries, accounts and keeping all the owners up to date. Mrs Tattersall is a legend! Not only is she Gemma’s right hand lady, head groom at events, but she also has a livery yard to run and breaking for The Billy Stud! Timing is critical at an event and the days are planned like a military operation, everyone knows what time and where Gemma needs to be, there is always a bit of flexibility added in just in case something doesn’t quite go to plan. But having the team organised means Gemma can be prepared, when they are out Gemma isn’t around much as she will be riding so everything needs to be prepared and ready for her in advance.
Back at the yard and keeping everything going as normal is Head Girl Kristy, 2nd Rider Sarah, two full time grooms Becky and Jess and two other grooms to cover holidays Alice and Laura. Both Sarah and Jess have their own horses and both compete BE. With relatively new members in the team, it is critical there is a good routine and the yard is run professionally. There is no special preparation for each event from the team as every outing has the same routine and preparation. After each event the lovely new lorry is disinfected and washed for the next outing, all items taken and used are cleaned and made ready for the next trip and everything is thoroughly checked on a regular basis.
Whilst Gemma is away with Arctic Soul at Badminton its business as usual back at home for the rest of the team. Prior to leaving Gemma will sit with Kristy (Head Girl) with lists for the coming week and instructions for the other horses on the yard, Team Tattersall has 18 horses at home so there is always plenty to do! Whilst Gemma is focussed on Arctic Soul, Elodie is the go to person from the girls back at the yard. This is a regular part of Elodie’s role as she is also the go to person back at home when Gemma is either preparing for a competition or out and about. Communication between everyone is absolutely vital to ensure the team are working well together. Elodie plays a vital role ensuring not only everyone at home is kept up to date but also the owners, the press and Gemma’s sponsors.
One of the biggest part of Gemma’s team are her owners, Gemma likes to keep in touch regularly, but there is a constant stream of communication from Elodie. The owners are invited to the yard regularly, especially if there is training with Yogi Breisner! Gemma will invite everyone over to watch the training and see the horse’s progress along with some networking and lunch at the yard after training. It’s great to keep a social side active with the owners as well as business and at some of the events Gemma will put on a social gathering at her lorry with nibbles, this helps everyone involved feel part of a great, professional team.
Between all the owners there is a great string of horses lined up for Gemma and her future in eventing. As well as Arctic Soul, Gemma also has Chico Bella who recently won the 3* at Burgham, Gemma is aiming Chico Bella at Rio and will keep her at 3* level. Quicklook will be off to Tattersalls and Chatsworth and Gemma will aim to qualify Quicklook as a back-up for Rio. There are also a number of other horses making their way up the levels. Gemma has the Chilli Dynasty, Chris Stone is one of Gemma’s main owners, he also owns the yard where Gemma is based. Chris owns all of the homebred Chilli youngsters, Chilli’s Gem, Chilli Pepper, Chilli’s Hero and Chilli Knight. All of the Chilli dynasty are due to start their careers and will certainly be ones to keep your eyes peeled for the future!
We all know the importance of keeping our horses fit and healthy no matter what level you may be at and for Gemma and the Tattersall team Uncle Ed The Ledge Vet (Ed Lyall) is critical. Uncle Ed is always on hand when the team may need him, has a great work ethic and is always amazing. Gemma is part of the World Class Performance Programme so not only does she have the great support from Uncle Ed but she also has the great support from the vets involved with the programme. The team has a very loyal farrier, Jimmy Cooper, who sometimes gets a quick call for a lost shoe prior to an event! Liz Oakenfold is an Equine Osteopath and always keeps the horses mobile and flexible and Penny Brownings is the team Equine Dentist ensuring the teeth are kept maintained. All of the external team members are well established, trusted and important in the success of Gemma and the horses.
The final cog in the well-oiled team are the sponsors. Gemma is fortunate to have some great brands supporting her, Childeric Saddles, Weatherbeeta makes them arrive looking like a team, Verdo Horse Bedding, Treehouse Sporting Colours, Gain Horsefeeds, PROtector Hats, Wold Exclusive Bling, Timothy Foxx, NAF and Gemma J Jewellery. Gemma is passionate about the brands she is involved in and they are vital to making Gemma and the horses perform to their very best.
As Gemma is a member of the World Class Performance Programme she receives regular training from Yogi Breisner especially when leading up to an event. Yogi is World Class Performance Manager and Chef d’Equipe to the British Eventing team and I know he is on my list of trainers to train with! As well as training from Yogi, Gemma receives regular training sessions with one of Britain’s leading dressage trainers and riders Andrew Gould. Gemma works on her fitness which she increases in the run up to a big event like Badminton, a little tip she gave me was planks and ab exercises before bed become you best (or worst) friend!
I asked Gemma how she goes about hiring, where does she find those young aspiring hard working people to join such a great team? The answer isn’t simple, a lot of the recruitment is done themselves via social media or by placing adverts, it can be a long task but it’s something with a lot of worth as finding the right people to join the team is crucial.
Lastly I asked Gemma if she had a message for anyone wanting to join a team of a 4* eventer: “Eventing is the most amazing sport, the team and entire environment make an eventing family. It’s unusual to compete in a sport and still root for your mates competing against you! You have got to be prepared to work hard but you absolutely must enjoy it, and most importantly you must be able to work as a team!”
The EWW team would like to thank Gemma and her staff for their time and wish her and Arctic Soul the best of luck at Badminton!
COURTESY OF LOUISE BEACH