Alice Dunsdon’s Adelaide blog: so much more than just a support team

  • It’s the end of day 16 in quarantine and we only have two more full days left here in Newmarket. I have to hand it to my groom Jenny who has been here from the start without a day off. I trust her completely with Hilly (Fernhill Present), and as a lot of you will know, finding a good groom is like finding a needle in a hay stack. Actually I tell a lie — that would be a lot easier.

    I dislike using the word the groom as they are so much more than that.

    Wikipedia states:

    “A groom or stable boy is a person who is responsible for some or all aspects of the magnagment of horses and/or the care of the stables themselves.”

    I think also I should include this to it:

    “Mind reader” — for when I suddenly change my mind about what bit I would like to showjump in at a competition and I walk around the corner to see Jenny has already put the bit I wanted onto the bridle.

    “Therapist” — for when I have a bad round cross-country and I need someone to pick me up and make me see the positives.

    “Entertainer” — for when I’m driving the lorry for hours trying not to fall asleep, Jenny will put Taylor Swift on and sing to her heart’s content.

    Last but not least and above all else; “loyal” — not only to you but more importantly to your horses. I believe a good groom treats each horse individually and loves and cares for them as if they were their own with no favouritism. As many of us know working with horses is a way of life, a passion, a desire to care for horses and with a hunger to see them succeed knowing you have played huge part in it. Most riders I know will also credit a huge part of their achievements to their groom and the back up team behind them. I know I certainly do.

    There are other horses in quarantine with Hilly and they are all flying on the same plane to Sydney.

    Sue Young is the IRT (International Racehorse Transport) quarantine manger where we are based in Newmarket. She is a remarkable lady who has so much worldly knowledge. Sue is extremely experienced in dealing with all types of horses, from highly strung yearlings to gentle eventers like Hilly. I would be more than happy for any of my horses to be in Sue’s care. If you went to boarding school Sue would be like the caring matron you had in your boarding house. She would be there for you to talk about your worries. She would make you feel less homesick and I’m sure would make you an amazing hot chocolate while cheering you up and making you smile. This is how she treats the horses here and it gives you an idea of how friendly and helpful she has been to Jenny and I.

    Hilly steaming after a work out

    Hilly steaming after a work out

    I met IRT’s flying vet this week, Amy Kelly. A young bright, vibrant lady who you warm to straight away. Immediately you realise how dedicated Amy is to her job and how much she loves her work. I had a good chat with her about my worries and concerns, (we’ve all seen that awful scene in the film International Velvet) and she made me feel much more at ease and relaxed about this mammoth trip.

    Everyone at IRT and Peden (who are international shipping agents) have been brilliant. I really do feel like everyone is going above and beyond to try and make this a successful and smooth trip for Hilly and I. This epic adventure is also a first for them trying to organise a British horse and rider to travel out to Adelaide. I think my mother has Henery Bullen, the director of Peden, on speed dial and I know there is not a question I would not be able to ask Jim Paltridge the mangaing director of IRT. Honestly, I have been amazed by how friendly and helpful they all are!

    These next few days before we fly are vital. We are monitoring Hilly like a hawk so that he is in the best possible condition to fly. I will ease off his work two days before we leave so he is full of energy for what I can only describe as a triple marathon flight. We fly from Heathrow to Germany (to pick up more horses), to Singapore to Sydney.

    I will blog again the eve before we fly!

    Take care,

    Alice x

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