Photo Credit: Ben Radvanyi Photography
The 2017 McKee-Pownall Groom Appreciation Showcase wrapped up at Caledon Equestrian Park on Sunday (Sept. 24), with Alexanne Thibault earning top marks for her behind-the-scenes work in the final FEI jog of the season at the park.
The 19-year-old Thibault may be familiar to many as a competitor in the FEI ring. But it is her tireless work in the care and presentation of her horse, Chacco Prime, for which she was honoured as a top-notch groom before the $86,000 Grand Prix on the final day of the Canadian Show Jumping Tournament.
Thibault says grooming is very much a family affair. With sister Coraline also a rider and regular competitor, she says the two share grooming duties and work for each other in the role when the other is in the ring.
“How we do it in our family is, me and my sister, we ride and take care of our own horses, and when I need her help she helps me, and when she needs my help I help her. That’s kind of how we do it and it works really well,” said Thibault, adding her father has also become quite the groom himself over the years.
Thibault credits hard work, punctuality and a genuine love for the horses for which she cares for the honour.
“Coming on time would be one of the priorities,” she said, emphasizing the importance in routine for the horses. “I would also say always work hard, never be sloppy or do more in one day, or less on the other for whatever reasons that come up. Always work your best every day.”
“You need a lot of patience, compassion and knowing how to treat the horses right. Even if we think of them as animals, we have treat them the way we would treat ourselves,” she added.
This was the fourth and final leg of the 2017 McKee-Pownall Groom Appreciation Showcase, which has been running at Caledon Equestrian Park throughout the season.
In appreciation for all the hard work grooms do behind the scenes, each horse in each of the four FEI jogs this season were judged by the ground jury based on overall presentation. The groom for each winner was awarded with a $200 prize and a McKee-Pownall Prize Pack.
Other winners this year included Nathaniel Tucker for his work with Flower, ridden by Conor Swail); Mia Antoinette Malmstrom for her work with Falco van Spieveld, ridden by Nicole Walker; and Danny Ingratta for his efforts with Vittoria 8, ridden by Ian Millar.
McKee-Pownall Equine Services and Caledon Equestrian Park would like the congratulate all of the very deserving recipients of the 2017 McKee-Pownall Groom Appreciation Showcase.
“We couldn’t do it without them. Grooms are the unsung heroes of many horse show careers. They are driven by a passion for the sport and animals and we would like to acknowledge their hard work. The list of tasks they perform is endless — grooming, bathing, braiding, lunging, setting jumps, feeding, mucking, riding, tacking up, untacking, cleaning tack — at the ring, at the barn, at home, on the road… you get the idea!”