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A GROOMS LIFE BLOG

I can't believe it's over

As the dressage concluded with team and individual bronze medals for Team GB at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, we caught up with BGA Ambassador, Alan Davies, for the final instalment of his Olympic blog.

Alan Davies is Head Groom to Team GB dressage riders Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester.

We spoke to Alan about winning individual bronze and his journey home as he reflects on his fourth Olympic Games. 

Friday 30th July

Well Tokyo, I can’t believe I’m leaving!

After a very long build up with months of uncertainty, planning, changing plans, and paperwork like I have never seen before - we have done it!

The horses have exceeded all expectations, performed to their utmost and amazingly are still fresh today. They competed under extraordinary circumstances, dealt with late night competitions, the heat and humidity, lightning, and weirdly empty stands.

 

I’m lying on my cardboard bed reflecting on the last few days; the riders are heading home, Pumpkin and Vogue are now also tucked up in bed after a nice easy day hand grazing and chatting to all their friends.

It’s been a very different Olympics to previous ones but a very memorable one. We haven’t been able to leave the confines of the equestrian park, so we have only seen our accommodation, the stables and the arenas. Everyone has supported each other, we have made it work and got on with the job in hand.


The grooms’ community is an incredible bunch of people and Pumpkin has got many new fans from all disciplines and countries. The eventing and jumping grooms all came to watch the class last night and everyone is in awe of what a wonderful charismatic horse he is, growing in stature and performing like a true professional.

It took a while to hand walk him today as people just wanted to stop and chat to him, which he is just loving!

I can’t quite believe that I’ve started packing to go home already. It’s a bitter sweet as I am looking forward to getting home to see Valegro, Uthopia and Freestyle, but I will be gutted to miss the eventers and jumpers perform.

One of the great things about being at the Olympic Games is being stabled with all the other disciplines, supporting them and seeing their journeys. But as space is tight here we are being shipped out tomorrow night.

We haven’t been able to watch any other sports either, get to the Olympic village or even the merchandise store. Luckily some friends have been shopping for us so we do have some souvenirs to take home.

 

It would have been nice to see some of Tokyo, it looks like a beautiful city. I went to the top of the grandstands and had an amazing view of the city and Mount Fuji, but with the current circumstances, that’s as much as I will see. Ultimately I’m here for the horses so being with them 24/7 is not a worry for me.

The Japanese people have been so welcoming and charming and have looked after us brilliantly. We’ve eaten well, there were a few repeats on the menu in the canteen but there was always something to satisfy even the hungriest of grooms.


I often get asked which is my favourite Olympics, and I can never give an answer to that as they are all an utterly unique experience. There are so many factors that go into creating the Olympic Games so you can’t, in my eyes, compare any of them. Having said that; Tokyo is certainly going to go down in history as the most unique Olympics, for many reasons.

Now my focus is on getting the horses home safe and sound and then once I am home I think the enormity of everything will sink in.


Monday 2nd August

 

And then it was all over...

I can’t believe I am writing this back in Gloucestershire!

I left the stables with our four horses in a fleet of Japanese horse trucks on Friday night. The trucks were all air conditioned and comfortable for the horses. The Japanese and Peden Bloodstock were extremely organised at the airport, and the loading went really well.

All four horses settled on the plane, drinking, eating and enjoying having me as their personal air steward. I took plenty of Japanese apples and carrots on the plane, not just as treats, but to keep them occupied as much as possible!

When we landed in Liege on Saturday morning, we had stables booked so that we could stay and have a rest. I walked the horses, took their temperatures and gave them a mash feed. We had a few hours break before heading back to England on Saturday night.

We got back to the yard on Sunday morning and after having a rest in their own stables Pumpkin and Vogue got to have a long awaited stretch in the field.

Pumpkin towed me to the field which was so nice that he was feeling so well after two days travelling!


I feel proud and relieved to get home and have the horses feeling so well. It’s been such a crazy time with such a long run up to this Olympics and I can’t believe we’ve done it. To come back with medals as well is just incredible!

I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about our journey through the British Grooms Association and that my blogs have inspired you to become a member. Please don’t think that you have to be an Olympic groom to join - the BGA is for all grooms.

As for me - I’m off for a proper cup of tea now in between film crews being on the yard!

Alan 

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What the personal accident policy covers you for:

  • Whilst at work
  • All stable duties – mucking out, grooming, washing off, turning out
  • Clipping
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  • Hunting
  • Lunging
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  • Holding horse for a vet and other procedures
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  • Competing in line with your job including: jumping, dressage, eventing
  • Injuries that may happen to you whilst you are teaching - but you must also be grooming as part of your duties and not be a sole instructor

What the personal accident policy doesn’t cover you for:

  • Riding in a race, point to point or team chase
  • Stunt Riding
  • Accidents occurring whilst travelling to and from work
  • Riding and competing your own horse (but you can upgrade when applying for membership to include this)
  • Public Liability – this is a separate insurance policy - the Freelance Groom Liability Insurance
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If you require additional cover then please contact KBIS directly.

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When you are working for other people you do most of the following; muck out, turn out/catch in, tack up, groom horses, exercise Horses (including hacking, jumping and schooling), in the care of your employer/client.

 
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Predominantly ride horses for other people including schooling, exercising and competing.   
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