This may be Carl Hester’s sixth Olympics, but for his groom Lucy Scudamore, the Tokyo Olympics is her first Games experience. She is caring for Carl’s ride, the 12-year-old Jazz gelding En Vogue, whose journey through the levels she has witnessed from the very early days.
“I’ve been looking after Vogue at home since he was five, and I’ve always dreamed of the day I would see him at the Olympics,” Lucy said. “Of course these things are never certain, so to actually be here with him is unbelievable. Coming to the Olympics is something I’ve always dreamed of for myself, too – everyone wants to put it on their CV but not many get to write it down. So many grooms get split up from horses as they progress along their journey to the top, so to be with here with Vogue is so special.
“I’ve seen him on his journey with Charlotte Dujardin [who competed him up to grand prix level before passing the ride to Carl], and now I’ve watched his relationship with Carl reach a pinnacle.
“I love watching Vogue and Carl work together. Vogue is extremely hot and highly strung, whereas Carl is so laid-back and I think that is why they work so well. Vogue is the kindest horse in the world, but he is nervous and needy. He has this massive personality that is starting to really come out now.
“I think I’ll be an emotional wreck by the time he has halted at the end of his test,” added Lucy, admitting she was nearly in tears just talking about it. “There’s so much stress about anything going wrong beforehand that just getting here is a massive achievement, then getting through the trot-up to the competition is another. The actual competition is the cherry on top – once we get there, I’ll have done my job.”
Lucy explained that all the British horses travelled well to Tokyo, and are enjoying the super equine facilities, with air-conditioned stables and plenty of access to hand-grazing opportunities. Meanwhile, the four British Tokyo Olympics grooms – who also include Lottie Fry’s groom Steven Caley, Gareth Hughes’ groom Steph Sharples and Charlotte Dujardin’s groom Alan Davies – have accommodation on site.
“We are keeping as tight a circle as possible,” Lucy said. “We are trying to social distance all the time, keeping masks on all the time, and only going into other people’s space if and when we have to.
“I was pleasantly surprised by the onsite accommodation that’s been built for the grooms and other support staff, like the vets. I’m sharing with Steph and Alan is sharing with Steven. Our rooms are decorated with British flags, the showers are powerful and warm, and there’s a ping-pong table in the lobby. What more could we want?”
Over the years, Lucy has learned the ropes of being a top international groom from none other than the brilliant Alan Davies, and says that she couldn’t have asked for a better person to shadow in the job, both at home and at competitions.
“All Alan’s values and tips are instilled in me now. In particular he has taught me how to plait, using his special technique, which is all about how he holds the rubber bands and rolls up the plait. I watch him every time and I’m finally getting it – it looks simple but it’s not!”
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