“He spends a lot of time under the shower,” says Chloe, who is at the Gloucestershire event for the third time with the grey gelding. “I’ll bath him first thing in the morning, to get rid of the stable stains. And then if he gets hot working with Kitty, I’ll wash him again.
“From winter onwards, I wash his tail all the time, every day. I’m a perfectionist, and I want him to look perfect.”
The French-bred gelding, known as Froggy, is now 14 years old. He kept remnants of his dark grey coat into his early teens, but he is now snowy white.
“This is the first year I’ve had to use white thread to plait his mane and tail,” says Chloe. “He used to have a black mane and tail and black legs – now they’re completely white I’ve had to step up my game! But at least he’s a silvery grey, which helps.”
“He says, ‘Oi, I want a scratch!’”
Froggy has settled well into his Badminton stable, which is just to the right of the clock tower.
“He can see other horses, which he likes, and he knows exactly where he is and he’s very happy about it,” says Chloe of her charge, who was seventh here last year. “At home he has Charmer the Shetland to keep him company in the field, but he’s fine without him. And Charmer loves it when he’s away – as Froggy nips him and stops him eating the lush grass.”
Froggy is definitely a character – “he’s beautiful and he knows it”.
“He’s very cheeky and unties himself regularly,” Chloe says. “He’ll nip you too, but always with his ears pricked. And then he’ll put his top lip up like he’s smiling.
“His favourite thing is a good old scratch. I found out he loves his shoulder being scratched once when I was brushing him and he started smiling. When I stopped, he nudged me and now he follows me round the stable, walking into me, saying ‘Oi, I want a scratch!’. He loves it.”
“I watch through my fingers,” says Kitty King’s groom
As for the main event, Chloe has mixed emotions once her job is done preparing him.
“I always feel so privileged that I’m here to look after him and Kitty, but I do get very nervous watching him. I feel pride, especially like at Burghley when he went into the lead after dressage. I force myself to watch – the dressage is fine, the showjumping I can watch through my fingers, but I can only half watch the cross-country. It’s easier to watch it back when it’s over!”
Vendredi Biats has been top 10 in his past two five-stars and two European Championships, and already has a win on his card this season. Not just a pretty face.
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