Badminton Grooms Eye View

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Photos above include Potts tiny plaits, Clare Balding, Michael Jung on his way out of the yard, Mark Todd clinging to back of our golf buggy plus other behind the scenes stuff.

Wednesday to Saturday of Badminton is one of my busiest weeks of the year. This year I was very excited once again to be able to groom for Louise Harwood and also I had Mindy advertised for sale and also I had Dippy entered for a one day event at Solihull on the Sunday. Basically I wanted to be in two places at once! At home to ride etc and at Badminton to live the dream of being groom at the largest and most famous Horse Trials in the world!

I was up at 4.30 am every morning to ride mine and then off to Badminton to be groom. I had the best time, looking after Louise’s two 4* horses is always an utter privillage, Jackie and Louise (Wiggy) are always so grateful. I was sharing the work with Megan Parry and also Jackie was doing lots of stable duties too. We were also treated to a course walk with Louise while Jackie stayed at the stables to start plaiting for the first trot up. Louise was amusing out walking the course, it was her first view of the course and her squeals of “this is huge” and “I hate fences like this one” were very amusing. Oliver Townsend was close by when we were walking fences 5 “keep her away from me” he joked. Luckily we overtook Oliver while he was having selfies with a group of starry eyed teenage girls who later came past us in tears, of joy I think!!

The course looked more jumpable as we went on, although it was a very different Badminton to what we had ever seen before, 4* rider Bryony Wilson walked the course to offer advice to Wiggy, it was really interesting litstening to them discussing lines and how best to ride each fence.

After the walk Megan and I went back to help Jackie finish plaiting and cleaning the horses and then we helped present both horses to the vets, they both passed the trot up easily.

Dressage on Thursday and Friday went well, both horses could have scored better but they were both in a competive place.

Cross Country morning dawned and the mood in the stables was unusually quiet, riders were concerned the course was tough, too twisty, not gallopy enough and too many angled fences. It was in many places very much a Show Jumping track.

Whitson looked amazing over many of the fences but jumped greenly at others and so he eventually was retired in front of Badminton house. We all dashed back to the stables to help wash him off. It’s quite a long way through all the packed crowds, luckily my friend Tina Price who had been looking after Potts while we were away, had everything in hand and was helping Louise with Whitson, thanks Tina you were a star.

Once we had washed him off and settled him down, we went to watch XC in the riders canteen, the track was causing trouble with less completions than normal and it seemed much less clears. There was a horrible accident when a horse got loose after a fall and galloped back into the main entrance to the stable yard breaking its shoulder as it slipped over. Emily Gilruth who was parked next to us was airlifted off to hospital with a serious head injury after falling at fence 3.

Late afternoon Louise and Mr Potts set off on XC, just one run out and otherwise clear, we were so relieved to see them galloping through the finish, Potts was awesome.

Louise would have liked to have been more competitive, but several long routes and a broken frangible pin added greatly to her penalty points, us grooms were just glad to have horse and rider home together and in one piece.

Lots of fun and happy memories of the week, I left Saturday night to get ready for my event in the Sunday. Wishing the whole team good luck for Potts Show Jumping on Sunday I left Potts, Whitson and Louise all in the safe and very capable hands of Jackie, Meg and Louise’s niece Amber.

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