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  • Writer's pictureFran Cleland

Behind every great rider (or pony club kid) is a groom

ABOVE: One of Australia’s most famous grooms, Emma Olsson, who works for Boyd Exell. Picture: MARTA FLATOW

BEHIND every rider, from the smallest pony club member to the elite competitor at the Olympics, is a person following with a box full of grooming equipment.

Often it’s mum or nana, who has learned the whys and hows of plaiting, hoof painting and tie straightening, and after their protégé has entered the ring, the quiet nail biting begins as they watch the performance.

They are often also the consolers, the shoulders to cry on when things go wrong, or to hug with joy when the too elusive success has their cared-for horse standing at the top of the line.

Many horse-loving people enjoy the sport by working for elite riders, and in Australia, with the sport at top level and extremely valuable horses in professional stables, good grooms are welcome.

The Federation Equestre Internaitonale ( FEI) has been well aware of the people that work tirelessly behind the scenes since 2009.

They state since its inception in 2009, the annual FEI Best Groom Award has paid tribute to the heroes behind the scenes who play a crucial role in ensuring horses and athletes are in optimal condition to compete.

A long list of winners can be found on their website, and cover all facets of the sport from dressage through to last year’s winner, Emma Olsson, who works for six-time world driving champion Boyd Exell.

Emma won from 20 nominations from around the world.

Because there are so many people that work behind the scenes in the equestrian world, and are so important even if unseen, the FEI has created a “grooms toolkit”.

It is designed to provide grooms with a go-to place for all information relevant to their line of work, their horses and their athlete, all accessible in just one click.

Nine sections take grooms through topics including, but not limited to, the various FEI Apps grooms should be familiar with, matters related to safety at work and third-party insurances as well as important information on equine anti-doping.

Educational content from the FEI campus is also shared, whether it be features, job platforms, interviews or videos they feel could be of use to all grooms.

Subjects in the tool kit include giving grooms a voice, biosecurity, equine anti-doping, safety at work, safe guarding in sport and FEI tack equipment and dress.

For anyone working in the industry, or hoping to, the toolkit makes good reading.

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