I’m Jack Wilkinson, I am a Level 2 apprentice working for Nigel Coupe in Preston. Part of my job as an apprentice is to travel to show jumping competitions in the UK and abroad as a Groom. I have groomed in Aachen in Germany, Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Canada, Munich in Germany, Keyseo International and Abu Dhabi to name a few!
I travelled to Abu Dhabi last month with Nigel and 2 of his horses Glovers Hill (Rikki) and Jubilee 3rd (Ruby) for 10 days. My role was to care for the horses throughout and ensure their safety.
Before we left I was responsible for packing and loading the lorry, and assisting our vet with the vet check and taking blood. On the morning we left I packed their flight bags, checked the horses over, gave them a brush, bandaged their legs, put clean fresh show rugs on, prepared them for travel and loaded them onto the lorry. For this trip I travelled separately to the horses although on previous abroad trips (Munich and Aachen) I travelled with the horses in the lorry, every so often I would go in the back and check that the horses were okay and not too hot.
We arrived there on Sunday but it wasn’t until the Tuesday they had their first vet check, so there was plenty of time for Ruby and Ricky to settle in. I prepared them for the vet check by grooming them, fitting their bridle and putting the number on their bridle which is theirs for the duration of the show. I took the passport with me as they check this and the microchip number. Once this has been passed I then trotted the horses up from the vet.
Whilst I was working out there I was responsible for all of the horses care. The office gave me a timetable at the start of the week so I could work out my timings for each class and for the preparation. I made sure the horses were well presented and turned out to a high standard and made sure that I met Nigel with the horses at the collecting ring on time. Once they’d jumped I would return them to the stables, untack and bath them. Once they were bathed I applied their ice boots. A short while later once I was happy they had cooled down and were relaxed, I would give them their lunch feed.
Of course, it was very hot over there, so I had to take each horse’s temperature twice a day. Each horse had a temperature chart outside their stable which the vets would check to ensure the horses were in good health and coping with the heat. I also added electrolytes to each feed which they don’t usually have at home, as they would be sweating more and I needed to keep them hydrated.
They both jumped a selection of classes (Grand Prix and Nations Cup), they both jumped well with some results. Ruby came 4th in the Grand Prix, Ricky jumped clear on the first day of jumping in the 1.45m and he jumped well in the Nations Cup for Team GB. In a few days, we are going to France for 4 weeks of jumping where I will have 3 horses with me (Glovers hill, Jubilee 3rd and Dragon).