EMMA CULHAM, 23
Grooming for: Emma Hindle and Wie Weltmeyer (Wally)
Background: completed an equine course at Aberystwyth, before moving to Germany to work for Emma two years ago.
Previous international experience: groomed at last year’s European Championships, as well as at Aachen and European shows.
Preparation: “Wally’s behaviour in the stable affects how he is to ride — my job is to work out what makes him tick and what annoys him, so he’s in the best of moods to perform.
“So far we’ve found he hates being in a shavings stable when there isn’t any straw to play with. He’s also quite a quiet horse and you need to draw him out of himself.”
Hopes and fears: “I hope Wally will do his best, Emma will do her best and everybody gets a good result. I’m a bit worried about the heat in Athens. In Germany it’s warmer than in England, so we’re a bit more ahead, but we need to look into electrolytes and fans.”
CAROLINE DAWSON, 23
Grooming for: Carl Hester and Escapado (Peanuts)
Background: worked in hunting and dealing yards before joining Carl four years ago.
Previous international experience: groomed on Spanish Sunshine Tours and at last year’s Europeans.
Preparation: “Peanuts was off with a bruised sole but now he’s come back into work and we’re building up his fitness. I do some physio with him to keep him in peak condition and he has a lot of strapping and proper grooming to keep up his muscle tone.”
Hopes and fears: “Because I’ve been looking after Peanuts since he was doing elementary, I’d like to see him go really well in the grand prix and break the 70% barrier.
“He’s never flown before and he can get a little nervous about new situations, so I’m hoping that will go OK.”
JENNY ELLIS, 44
Grooming for: Richard Davison and Ballaseyr Royale (Big Bird)
Background: has been a groom for 25 years, and has worked for show jumpers Liz Edgar, John Whitaker and Geoff Glazzard. Now works as a freelance travelling groom for Richard, alongside other HGV driving work.
Previous international experience: groomed for Geoff Billington and It’s Otto at Sydney, and worked for Richard at the WEG, the European Championships and the World Cup.
Preparation: “I’ve been doing the travelling with Royale since she came to Richard’s and I’ve watched her grow and change into a happy, confident horse. I don’t get to the yard so much, but I discuss the travelling plans with Richard and he keeps me involved and informed.”
Hopes and fears: “We’re going to win a medal. There’s no point going all that way otherwise!
“It can be stressful. It’s one of the biggest things you’ll do in your life, but at an Olympics everything’s usually taken care of.
“The stables will be air-conditioned, which is great for the horses — the humidity is something we need to be aware of.”
TRISH SMITH, 19
Grooming for: Nicola McGivern and Active Walero (Walero)
Background: started work for Nicola three years ago, and has been her competition groom for 18 months.
Previous international experience: groomed at the European Championships and international shows.
Preparation: “We’ve started planning and everyone’s quite well-prepared so far. Walero gets massages and stretches and lots of grazing in-hand.”
Hopes and fears: “I’ve travelled with Walero so much that I know him really well and he’s flown more times than me, so he’ll be fine. The only things I’m worried about are me flying and forgetting something!
“Walero loves the heat and goes really well in front of big crowds. I’m hoping
for a medal, as he’s been doing so well at his competitions.”
Membership of NAGS is free to all bona fide grooms and students. Benefits include: Horse & Hound subscription at £1 per copy, £3 discount voucher on a sack of Blue Chip Dynamic, 10% discount on Splash Equestrian equipment and clothing, no P&P charges from Equestrian Vision mail order and eligibility for NAGS-only competitions and offers.
If you are interested in becoming a member, write to: NAGS, Room 2018, Kings Reach Tower, Stamford Street, London SE1 9LS (tel: 020 7261 6993), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org , or click here to download an application form in PDF format.
And remember, the club is open to all students, not just those studying for an equine qualification.