Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Meet Sarah Charnley, groom for top event rider Rosalind Canter

Meet Sarah Charnley, event groom to the highest placed British rider at this year's Badminton Horse Trials, Rosalind Canter. Sarah has groomed for Ros since 2012 and juggles her eventing commitments around a full time job as a building control surveyor. Here she describes her life as an event groom and how she came to be grooming at the world's biggest three-day event.

Sarah and Ros first met about 9 years ago when they both played for Louth Hockey Club. As Rosalind Canter Eventing really took off, Sarah offered to lend a hand as she had her HGV licence. "I think my first event as groom was Burnham Market (Norfolk). Things then began to snowball and I ended up being out most weekends as well as plaiting, bathing, riding out and helping at the yard."

Sarah's first major trip was accompanying Ros to Austria in 2013 where Ros rode for Great Britain in the CIC2* European Championships. Sarah was one of the official Team GB grooms. "I have since groomed for Ros at several international events, including all 'the big B's in Britain' as well as travelling to Ireland when Ros represented her country at her first Nations Cup and then Poland last year."

Ros and Alby
Ros made it to the prestigious Badminton Horse Trials last year but All Star B (aka Alby), owned by Caroline Moore and Ros, only competed in the dressage phase because of a heart irregularity picked up at the first vet's inspection. This year, however, it was an entirely different story as Ros finished the highest placed Brit. How did Sarah feel to be grooming there? "This year I was a little more composed. Going through the gates last year was pretty emotional and I think my mouth must have been constantly open, catching flies!"  What is it like to be a groom there? "You are very well looked after. They give you meal and snack vouchers and the food is amazing. You could easily end up eating three full meals every day. Fortunately, with all the running around, the pounds don't stick!"

Watching nervously!
Behind every successful sportsperson there is a fantastic team at home and Sarah grooms alongside Ros's mum. "Heather is a huge part of Rosalind Canter Eventing and organises the horse feed, the yard, and everything else you can think of. Her energy and work ethic is inspirational. She loves being involved so we work as a great team, as does everyone else back at home." Sarah's responsibilities include preparing the lorry to ensure everything is packed so Alby is kept in tip top condition while away from home."The team at the yard keep everything shipshape while we are away and we mustn't forget Ros's dad who cleans the lorry."

Sarah and Etie
Sarah  grooms as a hobby using her annual leave from her day job to attend events. "I do it for the love of it and the thrill of seeing Ros and her horses go well." She also competes and bought her first horse when she was 15 having saved up her birthday and Christmas money. However, her father was against her having an equestrian career, so she sold her horse and went to university. "I got my own horse again at the age of 30 and have never looked back." She now has a lovely 5-year old mare, Etie, who Sarah has brought on to event with coaching from Ros. "She is turning into a seriously nice horse and in our first year we qualified for the National Riding Club Championships and the BE grassroots championships held at Badminton." And if that isn't enough, Sarah volunteers for British Eventing as a qualified Controller, Olympic fence judge and  trainee BE steward and is a brand ambassador for Emerald Green Feeds. "I think it's safe to say I'm an eventing nut!"
Sarah 'in control'

If you want to see Ros in action, she will be competing at Rockingham and Houghton horse trials later this month, where yes, you've guessed it, Sarah will be grooming and competing (Rockingham). "Busy, busy, busy!"

Kathryn White is owner and director of Cathean Ltd medical writing services and  Cathean Ltd equestrian journalistm & copywriting services. She is a published medical writer and equestrian journalist/copywriter with a passion for creating compelling text in collaboration with her clients. Her customers include pharmaceutical, healthcare and equestrian businesses across the world.