This award is to celebrate those brilliant grooms without whom the equestrian industry would grind to a halt
“I’ve been a groom for 30 years, and for dressage rider Craig Messenger for the past three. I grew up in a riding school – a ‘deprived’ child with a pony instead of a pram!”
Funniest moment: “Last year at the Home International at Wellington, it was so muddy that everyone was plastered in mud. I told Craig to stay in the horsebox and then brought everything to him, including the horse so he could just get on. We nicknamed him Princess Craig!”
Best grooming tip: “Clean your brushes. I shampoo ours before every show, or at least once a month.”
Boss Craig Messenger: “Not only is Apple a super-groom who cares about every detail of the horses’ care, but she’s also part of the family – she gets us all to the right place at the right time, like a PA. And I’ve even had comments on my dressage sheets on what a super shine my horses have.”
“I have groomed for 40-odd years for showing producers Richard and Marjorie Ramsay, since I was about 13. I worked up from the bottom to head girl, and now I’m running the yard.”
Funniest moment: “At one Horse of the Year Show, I went to get the bridles and realised I’d forgotten them – we had only two bridles for six horses. Luckily, one of the team borrowed a client’s fast car and shot home to get them, while we split up the double bridles into snaffles to warm them up. We had a successful show in the end.”
Best grooming tip: “Brush the horses every day, it’s good for their circulation and their skin – then you can just add the finishing touch with bathing. I don’t use many products, it’s mostly elbow grease.”
Boss Richard Ramsay: “Helen is totally dedicated, an incredibly hard worker. Horses always come first. She thinks nothing of staying up all night for a sick horse. She’s made a great success of a lifetime of hard graft, and she’s been part and parcel of some of the best horses in the country.”
“I was introduced to the grooming world 15 years ago at a showjumping stables in the US run by my aunt. My passion for dressage started seven years ago at college when my trainer Alison Keogh demonstrated a freestyle routine; I now work for Luke Baber-Davies Dressage.”
Funniest moment: “At a show I surprised one horse when I walked into his stable – he got a fright, double-barrelled me into a corner, I slipped and hit the wall. My head was so wet, I thought I was covered in blood, but it was horse poo. I had to wash my head quickly in the sink.”
Best grooming tip: “Be early and organised so you don’t have to rush. Know your rider, their likes and dislikes and always be 10 steps ahead of them. And I’m a sucker for baby oil.”
Boss Luke Baber-Davies: “Jaydene is one of the best grooms I’ve ever had, who always comes to work with a smile. No problem is too big or too small, and she treats all the horses as if they were her own. Working with horses you never know how the day will go, but she just cracks on.”
Amelia Jay Sanderson
“I’ve been a groom since I was 16. I got a scholarship to Talland, then worked at Nicola Wilson’s and a racing yard. I set up my own business, Prestige Equine, in 2018 when I was 22 and now freelance all over the north-east.”
Funniest moment: “I always have fun with the clients – I do this job because I love it and I make it fun. I love the top level, but the best bits are seeing transformation at the lower levels. I was grooming for a local kid at her first show and she was champion. I burst out crying!”
Best grooming tip: “I love to hot-cloth after clipping, it gives the ultimate finish and perfect shine. I use warm water on a microfibre cloth to wipe the horse over.”
Client Tom Goodacre: “My girlfriend and I have top-class show hunters and Amelia is one of the very few people we allow to ride them. She’s the crème de la crème of the north-east. She doesn’t just come in, do the horses and take the cash, she really cares about them.”
Previous winners of this award include:
- 2019: Amy Phillips, groom to Piggy French
- 2018: Jane Felton, groom to Jonty Evans
- 2017: E-J Eldridge, yard manager at Stallions AI breeding station
- 2016: Alan Davies, groom to Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin
About the Horse & Hound Awards 2020
The H&H Awards, in partnership with NAF, are back – this year’s ceremony will be virtual, an exciting multi-media online bonanza. This innovation means equestrian fans around the world can be part of the celebration. We look forward to sharing the evening with you all.
This year’s awards will celebrate the heroes of the past decade (2011–2020) in elite equestrian sport, while honouring the unsung stars who have helped our industry, our horses and our spirits during this unusual year.
As previously, the H&H Award winners will be nominated and voted for by you. Anyone is welcome to nominate the person, group or horse they feel deserves recognition from Thursday 3 September.
Following the close of nominations at 5pm on 4 October, the H&H judging panel will decide on a shortlist of contenders. The panel will be influenced by the number of nominations and strength of the story of the nominee’s dedication and achievement.
On 29 October, we will announce the shortlisted candidates in the magazine and online, sharing their stories and inviting you to vote for your winners online, with voting closing on 5 November.
The winners will be revealed in our sparkling online virtual ceremony on 10 December, with guests joining us from around the world.