|Me and Blou outside Badminton House|
Our blogging event groom, Crisy Salmon, describes her first experience of grooming at the biggest event in the world and how she too, is hoping to event. Crisy is based with British event rider, Sarah Bullimore, a member of the World Class Podium Squad for eventing.
There is no better way to start than with my Badminton story. This was my first time grooming here and my expectations were well and truly met. The location, the stabling and the event in general just blew me away! We were so well looked after that coming home was a bit sad; I liked living in the Badminton bubble; though three cooked meals a day would have started to affect my waist line!
Sarah took Reve Du Rouet (aka Blou) who is a very experienced 4* horse despite suffering from nerves. Sarah took a different approach to his pre-event training by focusing on a simple system and keeping him happy. He is so well trained that Sarah felt he didn’t need to be ‘drilled’ in the school. So long as his fitness was maintained then he was ready to go!
|Leading Blou back after dressage|
I’m obviously biased, but I felt his dressage score didn’t fairly represent what he gave in his test. Despite a slightly nervy start, he settled into some lovely work, but the judges didn’t seem to reward the good bits. I guess that’s how it is when competing and you learn to accept it and move on!
Cross country day felt very long as we had a late start time. The course also caused quite a few problems from the offset, which added to my nerves never mind Sarah’s. I needn’t have worried because Sarah and Blou pulled it out the bag as usual. Despite badly slipping early on, causing a momentary loss of focus leading to 20 penalties at the tricky water complex, Blou quickly got back into his stride just adding a few time faults & making it look so easy! Sarah opted for all the quick routes and Blou didn’t struggle with anything, making it “feel like a pre-novice” according to Sarah. He finished full of running with a great heart rate and trotted up well the following morning.
|Sarah and Blou at the trot up|
Blou jumped well on the final day, it wasn't exactly the finishing result Sarah had envisaged but anyone who knows this horse knows just how difficult he is to handle and ride, so all in all there were a lot of positives to take away. We had big smiles on our faces and were feeling proud of how normal he had been! We joke about him being a quirky horse but all that week he was a delight to handle and the work he gave Sarah was totally different to what she had from him at Badminton last year. We are over the moon with him. Roll on Burghley!
|Lilly Corinne enjoying some down time|
The youngsters shine
The rest of the season has been just as exciting as we went to the fantastic events of Burnham Market, Belton and Chatsworth with some of Sarah’s up and coming youngsters. The superstar from last season was 6 year old Corouet (Elfie) and so far this year he has had a 1st and two 2nds at Novice level, jumped a double clear at his first Intermediate finishing 9th, and completed his first 1* finishing 11th. He has ‘small man syndrome’ at home and can act like a spoilt brat, but when he produces results like these, then all is forgiven! Although it is not just the youngsters who deserve praise, as Corouets mum Lilly Corinne finished a close 2nd in the advanced at Chatsworth.
|Coco Flower, my new project|
My own racehorse project
And, finally, an update on my riding situation. I’ve been given an ex race horse to ride! Not something I ever imagined doing. However, I felt totally safe riding this 5-year old chestnut mare at the racing yard, so I thought it was worth seeing what I could achieve. Coco Flower is certainly opinionated and it’s fair to say we’ve had a few discussions, but I can’t wait to see what we can achieve together. Of course, I wouldn’t have taken on this challenge if it wasn’t for the fact I have Sarah to give expert advice and training.
When you work for one of the best event riders in the country, it’s too good an opportunity for me to pass. So far, it has been incredibly rewarding and every day I look forward to riding her, even in the rain! In the near future, I will join British Showjumping so we can start jumping bigger courses. I’d also like to move up to Novice dressage and I’d love to start cross country schooling, because my ultimate goal is to event! Having never evented before, I’m happy to begin at the bottom and progress. I’m fortunate that Sarah is out competing most weekends and at different levels, so there will be the chance for me to compete as well – as long as it fits in with the schedule, of course.
|Me and Coco in action|
Thank you to Liz Sankey for the beautiful photos of Blou at Badminton