Take over 02. comes from top international groom Dale Hailstones! Dale tells us about his grooming experience with international show jumper Laura Kraut, traveling with the Global Champions Tour and gives us some amazing grooming tips!
Hi Dale! Thank you for taking part in our new blog take over series. Being a top level groom, what are your main roles?
Your career may be described by a lot of people as the dream! What are you favorite parts of the job?
Traveling with the Global Champions tour you must get to see some incredible places! What have been your highlights so far?
Miami Global Champions Tour undoubtedly has to be the best location for a show I have ever seen in my life. It is incredible … some of the horses can be a little startled at first with how close the sea actually is to the ring and the number of people who are spectating from the beach. It’s not often the crowd are wearing swim wear… The stable area was fantastic and the horses soon feel at home at such a surreal surrounding. Madrid GCT earlier this year was also a personal highlight. One of the horses I look after who I must admit is one of my favourites named Viper Vrombratshove Z (viper) who Emma has produced over the last few years and won his speed class the first day he then went on to win the 2* Grand Prix on the final day. He was completely in his element the huge grass arena suited him perfectly. Later that Night the Rome Gladiators won the Global Champions League event. Both Emma and Laura are part of the team so over all it was a great show for us.
Did you compete yourself before getting the job?
I did compete before taking the job here. The reality was I wasn’t good enough to be a top professional rider…it was more of a hobby for me I had my own horses and I would ride horses and compete them for people on a national level. I never had a groom (a none horsey dad who was slightly scared of horses but who tried his best to help) so I was always used to getting my horses ready to compete myself and I loved it. I had always wanted to groom on an international level for a top rider and when this opportunity came along I knew I had to take it.
You must have quite a large amount of responsibility that comes with your post – how many horses do you have to cater for?
I have 6 horses of Emma’s that I look after. We jump at a lot of shows where each rider can only take 2 or 3 horses so the other grooms at home look after the horses who are not at the show with me. I am always send photos and snap chats etc. of the horses who are not with me … it’s nice that the people that I work with recognise the relationship you have with your horses and always keep in contact about how they are doing.
Tell us a little about how traveling with the show works – how often do you move to a different country?
We travel all over the world with the horses. The furthest trip we make is when the horses are moving from England where we base for the summer to Florida where we embrace the sunshine for the winter months. The horses travel on the truck to Holland where they then have a good rest before boarding the plane to fly to Miami. Our horses are professionals when it comes to this. My first experience of flying with the horses was great I loved it. The pilot asked me If I would like to sit in the cockpit for take-off to which I happily obliged. It was an amazing experience which I will never forget. The travelling process through out or time in Europe can be a little more demanding. We are at a different show in a different country almost every week. Me and the horses spend lots of time on the truck, I make them as comfortable as possible and try and use the travel time to catch up some family and friends on the phone.
What’s been your teams biggest achievement this year?
Out team have had a great year so far. Emma has been placed in several world ranking classes, as well as many placings and wins throughout the Global Champions Tour and is also had great results with her new 7-year-old Curious George in the young horse classes. Her most recent result winning a class at the Valkenswaard Future Global Stars show. Laura is also the reserve on the US Olympic team with Zaramonie and Nick is on the GB Olympic team with Big Star.
I’m guessing your away from home for quite long periods – do you ever get home sick?
I do get home sick at times there is no denying it’s hard not to see your family very often. One of the things I love about this job is there is such a great sense of community and social factor with it. You see lots of friends at shows and that helps. My friends and family are very supportive and I try to see them as often as possible.
Top grooms are normally described as perfectionists, would you call yourself this?
I would say I’m a bit of perfectionist or at least I try to be… the thing I love about this job is that you are constantly learning. Everyone has their own way of doing things and sometimes you realize their way maybe better. I like to learn new things and there are people who have done this for way longer than me. You can’t be too proud to ask for help, I would say my weakness when I started at this level was plaiting… practice makes perfect and you just have to push yourself to get better. If I can learn something new every day I happy.
Any advice for any aspiring top level grooms?
My advice to any aspiring groom would be work hard no matter what level you are at. You need to start somewhere I wouldn’t change the way I started my career with horses. I initially started at a local riding school when I was very young where I would help out in the mornings to get a free riding lesson. When I was at school and university I worked at the yards where I kept my own horses, riding, grooming whatever I could do to get to a show and then you develop and strong work ethic and people see that. Throw yourself into it and always keep an open mind, there is always something to learn with horses. Being a groom is pretty rewarding, as you are play a big part in both the horse and rider’s careers but you need to be able to work as a team.
Which grooming products could you not live without?
I have a few essentials I take in my grooming box to every show. I have a soft rubber grooming glove which is great to use on the horses before and after work. I love to use cowboy magic mane and tail detangle (I do think they should change it only say tail!! – show sheen and anything like that make the mane so difficult to plait) I always take quick Braid with me it’s a spray which helps make the horses mane a little bit sticky it helps if you find their mane a little slippery or perhaps if it’s just been washed. I also love bit butter its really great for horses with sensitive mouths. And also makes their noses shinny and I always have baby powder with me, some horses have sensitive legs and I put it in the boots to help prevent then getting boot rubs.