Equestrianism is about teams. Rider and Horse, Horse and groom, Rider and groom, ... you name it. No top level performances without a team. Ready to talk with Phoebe Leger, Daniel Bluman's groom.
How long did it take you to get to CHIO Aachen, and how do you keep yourself entertained on long lorry drives?
It was approximately a two hour drive from the stables near Brussels to CHIO Aachen. I drove myself in our small truck and the horses followed behind me. When I'm not driving, to keep myself entertained, I watch Instagram videos, TikTok, and things like that. I also watch the Equnews reels a lot!
Do you feel more pressure when you are at one of the Majors that make up the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping?
Definitely. CHIO Aachen is one of Daniel’s [Bluman] top events. We go to all of the Majors and there is a lot of pressure to do well every time we come. Out of the four Majors, I’d have to say CHIO Aachen is my favourite. I love the atmosphere here and the showgrounds are fantastic. It’s like a small city with so much to do all in one place. I have lots of friends here and I am friends with almost every groom in my aisle – the camaraderie is really great.
Which horses do you have with you this week?
This week I have Ladriano [Ladriano Z], Gemma [Gemma W] and Cachemire De Braize. Ladriano is 14-years-old and has been doing this a long time. Hopefully this week we have really good results with him in the Grand Prix. Gemma is 11-years-old and has just been coming up into the big classes since last year and is very promising. Cashmere is our younger one – he is 10-years-old. Like Gemma, Cashmere is just coming up into the big classes and he is a great anchor horse for us at the big shows.
How have you been preparing them for CHIO Aachen?
At home, I have spent the past week clipping all of the horses, bathing them, making sure all of the tack is ready and ensuring all of the horses are in shape. While Daniel was away at the other shows, I helped ride them and keep them fit. In short, there’s a lot of preparation that goes into this!
Do you think the horses know the importance of an event like CHIO Aachen?
Ladriano definitely does! The other two – Gemma and Cashmere – are just very easy and travel wherever you want but Ladriano knows when it’s time to do the big ones. He gets very excited in his stall. He starts bucking and rearing. He gets very excited whenever we travel anywhere. He is just all for the sport and all for the game. He has such a personality!
How much riding do you do?
I ride almost every day on one or two horses – especially when at home. I do a lot of tack walking while Daniel is away and also warm up his horses.
What is your favourite part of the job?
My favourite part of the job is seeing the horses every day. I have been with them for so long now – almost three years. Especially with these three horses, I have been with and taken care of them since day one so it’s wonderful to see them grow and achieve new things every year.
What is your least favourire part of the job?
The long days when you start at 5am or 6am and don’t finish until 7pm or 8pm at night. Even then, it’s worthwhile but the long days are rough sometimes!
What advice would you give to someone considering a career as a groom in elite show jumping?
Follow where your heart wants to take you and where it feels like you are a family. A lot of people do it for the money and think this money doesn’t pay me enough so I want to find a new job that pays me more. But a lot of the time, if you are happy where you are, then it doesn’t matter how much you make. You need to find something that you love, stick with it and that’s why I have been with Daniel for three years now. I love every day and I am very happy with my life.
F. © Ashley Neuhof - Rolex Grand Slam