What is involved in being a groom for an Olympic horse and rider? I spoke with Lynsey Rowan who will be going to Rio with Canadian rider Belinda Trussell and her horse Anton to find out.
First of all Lynsey had to make arrangements for the time she will be away. She is Belinda Trussell’s assistant and rides and trains two young horses at Belinda’s Oakcrest Farm as well as riding and training her own horse Orion. They will get a holiday! She also has some students and has arranged for a substitute teacher.
Then there is the packing. Anton will need three sets of polos, Eskadron wraps, and saddle pads for the days he will be in competition as well as polos, Eskadron wraps and saddle pads for the days he will be ridden but not in competition. Lynsey says there is laundry available so things can be washed. She will also pack extra reins, curb chains, bits, an extra double bridle, two snaffle bridles, extra saddle pads and an extra girth. A month ago Lynsey had to make a list of everything that was going to be packed in the five trunks that are going with Anton. These lists had to be sent to the horse transport company, Peden, who will send them on to the Brazilian government for approval. The lists will then be sent back. In the main tack trunk Lynsey will put Belinda’s helmet, top hat, and two pairs of boots along with the saddle,girth and bridles.
The trunks will be unlocked and inspected. Every detail must be prepared in advance. For example Lynsey will be taking fly spray for Anton and that will have been given a reference number and this number must be on the fly spray.
The trip to Rio….August 2
Lynsey will travel in the transport van with Anton to New York’s JFK airport. They will leave at 8pm in the evening from Toronto and travel overnight arriving on August 3 at 8am. Lynsey will hand walk Anton and help him to settle in. That evening she will fly out of JFK to Rio one hour before Anton’s flight leaves. When she arrives in Rio she will check in at the Canadian Olympic Committee desk and will get a shuttle to the grooms village at the equestrian site.
I asked Lynsey if she was concerned about the stories of the athletes accommodation not being properly finished. She told me that she was not concerned about it. She had groomed for Belinda at WEG in Normandy and the accommodation was not good but they made it work.
Arrival in Rio…August 4
Lynsey told me Anton is an excellent traveller so she is not worried about him stressing en route to Rio. When Anton arrives she will hand walk to stretch him and he will be given electrolytes and also fluids by IV as well as stomach medication and supplements. Each day Lynsey will make sure she is at the stabling early to give him his breakfast along with the others who are the first to be fed as he does not like it if other horses are fed before him.
On the days of competition Belinda will ride Anton twice;once before her competition time and once in the competition. It takes Lynsey about 25 minutes to braid Anton and then she puts him back into his stall for a break. She then takes him out and he has 20 minutes in a magnetic blanket and then is tacked up.
She takes a bag to the ring with her. And what is in that bag? An extra curb chain, a towel, fly spray, water for Belinda, extra gloves, the microphone and headset for Belinda and her coach, a tail brush and Vaseline.
Non Competition days
Anton will be ridden once or twice a day. On the days he is ridden once Lynsey will hand walk him four times and on the days he is ridden twice she will hand walk him three times. Lynsey told me he needs to get out of the stall or he gets bored.
The two Canadian dressage horses have to stay till the end of the equestrian competition because they will fly back to New York with jumper horses. Belinda will be going home on August 17 so Lynsey will ride Anton and look after him until they leave on August 22. When they arrive in New York Anton will have to be in quarantine for seven days. At the moment it seems the access to the horses will be very limited. Lynsey may only have half an hour a day with Anton and is not allowed to take him out of the stall.
Ceremonies and sightseeing?
Lynsey told me that usually only the athletes take part in the opening and closing ceremonies. She did not know if she would see them as they may take place in a location that will not be easy to get to from the equestrian venue. She also said she is unlikely to do any sightseeing.
What about the Zika virus?
Lynsey told me she had talked to her fiancé about it and they agreed that she should take this opportunity and go armed with long sleeved shirts and long trousers and insect repellant.!
Viagens seguras tratador Olimpico! Safe travels Olympic groom!