Postcards from Aachen —‘He canters sideways to the jumps, I don’t know how Laura gets over’

  • The best riders in the world have descended on the prestigious CHIO Aachen, Germany, this week (17-22 July) for some top class sporting competition across the disciplines.

    In the showjumping ring, the highlights of the week are the Nations Cup and Sunday’s Rolex grand prix, but behind the scenes one of the busiest people on the showground will be 26-year-old Dale Hailstone (pictured).

    Laura Kraut’s head groom was born in Glasgow and started working for the USA rider four years ago. With four of Laura’s top horses in action this week in Aachen, it’s no wonder Dale has some great top tips up his sleeve to make the show go as smoothly as possible…

    Which of Laura’s horses are competing this week?

    “We have Confu, Deauville S, Zeremonie, and SFS Vincomte for the younger class,” says Dale. “All the horses have great characters. Deauville is very special in the ring, he loves it in there! He always canters sideways to the jumps, I actually don’t know how Laura get’s over them, she is so good! As soon as he is out of the ring he becomes quiet and is very happy just to stand still and talk to people who come and say hello to him! Confu loves to whinny as he enters the ring, it’s almost like he wants to let people know he has arrived!

    “We think Zeremonie will be competing in the Rolex Grand Prix. Laura won leading rider of the show last year and Zeremonie won best horse, so they are a great combination and we hope to do even better this year and win the Rolex Grand Prix. We are so lucky that we have a good selection of grand prix horses to choose from, but the plan right now is that Zeremonie will jump in the grand prix.”

    Do you have any secret grooming tips?

    “Actually, I do have quite a good tip; it sounds very basic but one thing I never go without is baby powder — especially with grey horses,” says Dale. “It helps to cover up marks and does all sorts of wonders to their coats, I also put it inside their tendon boots, so they don’t rub which keeps them comfortable. It’s cheap and cheerful but something I never leave home without.”

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    What makes CHIO Aachen such a special event?

    “For me it’s without a doubt the best show in the world,” says Dale. “It’s amazing for the grooms, the riders and the horses. We go to so many shows across the globe but a lot of them aren’t very horse friendly. Aachen is so good for the horses, we have so much space to graze and exercise them, you can plan your day easily as the facilities are so accessible. The atmosphere is incredible, and the ground is super for the horses, so it is the perfect place to compete.”

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