Behind every rider’s success is a groom’s trials and tribulations. Sarah Jenkins finds out what comical goings-on have contributed to riders’ glory over the years
“I remember a funny incident taking horses on a plane to Las Vegas for the World Cup in 2000,” says Jenny Ellis, former elite groom for John Whitaker, Geoff Billington and Richard Davison, as well as supporting Britain’s para dressage team at Beijing 2008. “It was the oldest plane you’ve ever seen. They built a ramp to get the horses in that I can only describe as something you’d walk up into a chicken coop.
“Once we were on and had worked out how to build the crates around the horses, I asked where the emergency chutes were and was told there weren’t any. I saw the pilot had his golf clubs with him so I thought he must be optimistic we were going to get there at least.
“I was travelling with Tez Harrison, who worked for John Whitaker for 18 years. Some people were standing or sitting on the floor but there were a few seats, and Tez and I sat together. As we took off we realised the seats hadn’t been strapped in, and we shot to the back of the plane.”