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Mascots and more at Badminton

Riding three horses in the same competition at Badminton has only been achieved twice, so far. Bill Roycroft (Australia) rode Eldorado, Stoney Crossing and Avatar in 1965. Later in 1970, Lorna Sutherland, now Lorna Clarke, also rode three horses on the same day – Popadom, Gypsy Flame and The Dark Horse.

Recently riders have been restricted to riding no more than two horses in the same competition, however this year, Harry Meade will be making history by competing with three of his horses.

We caught up with his Head Girl, long-term BGA member, Jess Errington.

Firstly, congratulations to all of you who work for Harry. What an amazing achievement to have three horses fit and ready to compete at Badminton Horse Trials, especially on its 75th Anniversary.


How many times have you been a groom at Badminton?

“I was trying to work this out the other day, I think this is my seventh time. I have been working for Harry for 17 years now!” 


What was your first time like?

“I was extremely excited! I wasn’t that experienced. We had Wild Lone competing, who was incredible, but quite tricky to look after. I was in shock to be there, but I loved every minute of it! It is always special to be at Badminton and I still get goosebumps when we drive through the gates and as I enter the stables and walking underneath the archway.”


This is your first time having three horses to look after at Badminton, how are you feeling?

“We had three horses at Burghley and coped! It almost takes the pressure off as you are kept busy, so it stops you from faffing. The horses all get the level of care and attention they need, but I like to be busy – it stops me from getting so nervous!”


Will you have an extra pair of hands with the horses or are you juggling all three?

“Yes, I will have lots of help with me. Harry has produced detailed time sheets for me which has the plan for each day. It is full to the brim but does help to keep us on top of everything. I have a whiteboard with timings on and will make it clear to the others what is happening. We also love a WhatsApp group for keeping on top of things!”


We are a great team and good at communicating.


I think you have the shortest journey to Badminton, does this make the journey less stressful?

“It is quite a nice journey – we will take the two-horse lorry and do two trips with the three horses. Then the big lorry will be packed with everything we need. It is also nice knowing we are close to home in case I forget to pack something!”


Away Cruising (Spot), Cavalier Crystal (Nell), and Red Kite (Cooper), are they all different personalities and do they have their own little quirks?

“Yes, they do! Spot is full of character; he is funny, and he knows he is the King. He is fed first and he does things his way! Spot is so kind and so brave and always tries so hard. Harry produced him and I have looked after him since he was four years old. He is now 17 and always wants to go out and do his best. He is a legend! He loves the trot up and loves to show off in front of the crowd!

Nell is quirky and can be a tricky character, she is sassy but quite sensitive at the same time. Nell is such a kind horse though and so incredibly brave. She finished 3rd at Burghley last year.

Cooper is funny and quirky, and full of character. He likes to look around a lot! When he is not in action, he spends most of his time in bed asleep!

They all have their own mascots which we take to 5* events. Spot has a Dalmatian dog; Nell has a Cheetah and Cooper has a Goldfish!”


Do you have any top tips you can share with other grooms who may be working at Badminton for the first time?

“Always ask for help, don’t be shy or struggle alone. I am always happy to be asked for help. Always try and be as organised as possible – write your timings down and communicate with your rider.  Pack spare items you might need, items such as a spare headcollar and spare tack. I always take more than I need!”


What would you say to anyone thinking about becoming a groom?

“I think it is a lifestyle more than a job and you must be prepared to put in the hard work. You also need to learn to deal with the highs and the lows. The low times can be tough, you build up such a special bond with the horses that it can be hard when things don’t go well. However, you must take the highs, whatever form they come in. A win at a one-day is just as special as a great result at a 5*. You also must be incredibly passionate about your job.”


Why are you a BGA member and what do you love the most about your professional association?

“When I first started as a groom I had no support. I love that you can call the BGA for help and advice and I like to think that grooms can come to me, knowing I am a member, to ask for support. The insurance is also so important.”


Having an association who champions you and helps you realise that you can make a career out of being groom, no matter what level you work at, is great. It is so nice that we are now recognised and gaining recognition as time goes on. Thank you BGA!


We would like to wish good luck to all the grooms who are working at Badminton. You all do such an incredible job.

Good luck to all horses and riders too!



The BGA is your organisation that supports, represents, and champions the career of all grooms. 


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POSTED 09.05.2024





What the personal accident policy covers you for:

  • Whilst at work
  • All stable duties – mucking out, grooming, washing off, turning out
  • Clipping
  • Riding – including hacking and jumping
  • Hunting
  • Lunging
  • Breaking in
  • Holding horse for a vet and other procedures
  • Travelling horses both in the UK and abroad
  • 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
  • Care Custody and Control – this is a separate policy - the Freelance Groom Liability Insurance

If you require additional cover then please contact KBIS directly.


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.




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

 Provide grooming services for someone else either full time or on a freelance basis i.e. an employer or a client.   


Employ staff – have an employers liability policy in your name NO NO YES
Buy and sell horses NO YES YES