By Aisha H. Lama
Grooming at events has always been the most exciting part of my equine career. So how could I turn down the opportunity to groom at one of the most prestigious and diverse horse shows in the world? I’m of course talking about the Royal Windsor Horse Show.
I have been doing freelance work for Lizzie Oseman for around 2 years now, mainly doing yard work and preparing for shows. I have always admired the beauty and vast amount of ribbons, sashes and photos which are hung with pride, as they should be, around both the house and tack room. Lizzie currently has 2 horses which she shows- Rags is a young horse and not very experienced in the showing world, whereas Turbo is an old hand and knows his job inside out!
Anyone who knows me, knows I am not a morning person at all so when the alarm went off at 4am it took me a snooze or five to actually get me out of bed! However, once I had woken up and was on my way to Lizzie’s house I felt so excited for the day ahead. When getting to the yard I quickly whizzed out her two ponies and then mucked out Turbo’s stable. As it was my first show I was shadowing Lizzie’s lovely groom Leanne who was incredibly patient, kind and answered all my questions throughout the day! We only had Turbo to take to Windsor as Rags had stayed at a showing yard the previous night.
We left the house a little late but luckily, we had a quick journey and arrived just after 7. Already there were spectators arriving and plenty of competitors were there as well. Rags was in the Novice Cob’s Class at 8am and he was up waiting for us at the warm up ring. The walk up to the warm up was really quite exciting, we had to walk by some amazing looking lorries, the river and past all the stables as well as past some quite beautiful horses of course! The warm up arena was full of beautiful cobs, absolutely immaculate with not a hair out of place. Around the outside of the warm up there were the final touches being made to all the horses, extra hoof oil, final brush offs, boot cleans and quarter markers- which should definitely be classed as fine art!
Entering the arena there were around 20 competitors in this class, and what Rags lacked in experience he sure made up in presence. He had a real spark in his eye and ears were pricked the whole time! He looked great and I think he enjoyed the attention from the spectators around the arena. Once the competitors had all showed walk, trot, canter and gallop they were bought into line to begin the judges ride. The horses were pulled in in the judge’s preference and Rags was around 11th in line. The judge was a kind rider and gave each horse a pat at the end of each ride. When it came to Rag’s turn he looked like he gave her a nice smooth ride although he was a little confused about one of the changes of rein, however gave her a super balanced gallop and had his ears forward the whole time!
Once the judge had ridden, the groom for the rider (Lizzie shared with the lady who runs the yard Rag’s stayed at) takes the saddle off and gives them a quick final polish before the 2nd judge looks at the horse’s conformation and trot up. Rags stood very well while the judge looked at him and was perfectly behaved while Lizzie trotted him up.
Once all the horses had been ridden and looked at, all competitors walked around the arena while the judges conferred about what they felt/saw. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be for Rags that day and he missed out on the placings but we were all super proud on how well behaved he was and how stunning he looked! However, he had won the in-hand coloureds the day before so he didn’t leave Windsor empty handed 😊
We gave Rags a sponge off and a drink before loading him onto the lorry with a well-deserved haynet. We had until 12:30 till Mr T’s class so I spent the hour or so spare thoroughly reading the souvenir programme, and I have to say I learnt so much about the Household Cavalry, Driving and
Showing! Turbo came off the lorry and it soon occurred we had so much to do in very little time! He had been bathed and thoroughly groomed at home so now was just time to add the finishing touches. Blackening the black, whitening the white, polishing the ears, eyes and muzzle, smoothing the mane and tail and of course hoof oiling! Once he was tacked up and Lizzie was on board, I stayed with Rags to make sure he settled with Turbo leaving and once I was happy he was relaxed (he was falling asleep bless him!) I walked up to the warm up to meet Lizzie and Leanne.
Turbo and Lizzie have a lovely bond together- he is constantly listening to what she is asking and focusing on the job in hand. Before the class (Heavyweight Cobs) Lizzie gets Turbo’s, quarter markers done and they looked perfect. In arena, he looked completely at home and not fazed by the number of spectators around the outside or the busy and exciting atmosphere the showground had. He has been to many big horse shows multiple times including HOYS and Hickstead so is used to the whole routine. Lizzie was one of the few Amateurs in the class but they both looked up to the mark from my point of view! In the original pull in they were pulled in around 10th but Turbo gave the judge a lovely ride and didn’t put a foot wrong. He was re pulled in at 7th and the smile on both of their faces was just heart-warming.
Lizzie was super pleased with both her boys and they both deserved the pack of polos I split between them! Showing was a completely new experience for me and I learnt an awful lot. I’m so grateful to Lizzie for being so great to work for and to Leanne for giving me all the help I needed, and of course to the two beautiful horses who behaved perfectly. A wonderful day out all round!