Can you introduce yourself, tell us who you work for, and what your role is?
My name is Georgia Ellwood, and I am Harry Charles’ show groom.
Can you tell us about the horses that you have and what their characters are like?
In Harry’s team, we have around nine horses – they are all different ages and have different levels of experience. Romeo 88 and Balou Du Reventon are our older and more experienced horses. Balou du Reventon is an absolute gem – he is the yard’s favourite at the moment. He is a stallion but does not act so at all – he is so sweet. We call him the old grandpa of the yard.
On the other hand, Romeo 88 is more of a handful than him [Balou du Reventon]. He is quite grumpy but can also be very affectionate at the same time. He wants the attention once he has it – he changes his mind.
Sherlock is one of my favourite younger horses. He is the most lovable little thing that you could ever come across. He is cheeky and very sweet, and he gives everything when he is in the ring which is so nice to see. I am sure that Harry would agree with me that he is a little trooper.
We also have a younger horse who is eight-years-old called Bandit, and he is very special. His show name is Dunroe Quality and he is incredibly scopey – he is like a spring. He is very cool but comes with some challenges. He loves to test me on the ground, but he becomes a different horse when Harry rides him. He is one of the best young horses that I have ever seen. I am hoping that in the future he will continue to develop, and I really think he will be something very special to the sport of show jumping.
All the horses have different characteristics; you definitely have to spend some one-on-one time with them to get to know them.
How special is it to be part of Harry Charles’ team?
It is truly exciting to be part of Harry Charles’ team. At Heathcroft Farm, we are part of the family, not just a groom. Peter [Charles] trusts us and that means a lot to us. He is extremely involved in the yard but at the same time, he likes us to have our independence. It is a lovely yard to be a part of. The family is amazing to us, which helps us love our jobs. They are just so nice to be around.
I have been with Harry for four years now and I have noticed a significant difference in his riding. He is such a chilled person to be around. At the same time, when he is at the bigger shows, he wants to do well and so he sometimes places pressure on himself. I try and remain calm and quiet to help him out.
Harry is a perfectionist and after working here it is clear to me how hard he works. He is one of the hardest-working riders that I have ever seen. He wants it so much.
You recently won the British Showjumping ‘Groom of the Year’ – what did that mean to you?
When I first started in the sport, there was a division between the riders and grooms. Whenever a rider won a class, the spotlight was placed on the rider, the horse, and the owner but recently, in the past year or two, the grooms have come to be recognized. This is great and makes a difference. We work so hard behind the scenes – there are so many people in the teams behind each of the riders and their horses including trainers, farriers, vets, and business managers, and everyone’s role is vital, as we work in a team sport.
Winning the Groom of the Year award was amazing. It was great to be recognized – we all put in so much hard work and the hours are long, so having that recognition meant the world to me.
How did you get into grooming and what advice would you give to someone who wanted to get into the industry?
I have always been interested in horses. I used to ride ponies a lot and compete in British Show Jumping competitions for a while. As I got older, I began to recognize that I was probably not as good as some of the other young riders, so I decided to switch to grooming and I got a job when I was 15-years-old mucking out stables. It escalated quite quickly for me to my first full-time job as a show groom.
I enjoyed the fact that I was still part of a team and got to ride. Being around a rider who competes at the top shows definitely gives you a buzz. My advice for the younger generation is that being a groom is hard work and it is tiring. But when something clicks and goes right – it is just an unimaginable feeling. Just keep working hard and the results will show.
What is the best part of your job?
Winning plays a massive factor in this. I also enjoy having a new horse and learning about them or working with a younger horse and watching them develop. When they get older, and they jump in their first Grand Prix – it is a lovely feeling. I definitely feel proud to be part of this.
How much do you enjoy coming to the Majors – The Dutch Masters, CHIO Aachen, the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament, and CHI Geneva? In your opinion, what sets them apart from the other shows?
I really enjoy attending the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Majors as they are so well organized. They have not just thought of the riders, but they also focus on the well-being of the horses. As a groom, this is so important for us. The grooms are treated and viewed the same way as riders, and that is one of the nicest things. The atmosphere at the Majors is incredible. CHIO Aachen is one of my favourite shows to attend. The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Majors are definitely some of the best shows in the world.
The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is currently celebrating its 10-year anniversary – how big an impact has it had on the sport?
I have not been around for long enough to see the change from the very beginning, but I do think that the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping has had a significant effect on the sport. It has opened doors for young riders, and grooms and provided access to different types of venues. All of the Majors are amazing. They are so well organized and hosted in great locations. They have raised the level of the sport. The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Majors have had a significant impact on the grooms, they have really recognized us and enabled us to have a say on things.
What has been the proudest moment in your career?
I have so many moments in my career that I am proud of. A lot of these moments are with Harry. I would say when we won team bronze at the FEI World Championships in Herning, Denmark. He [Harry] jumped an amazing clear round on the final day to secure the medal. Another highlight was the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on the first day when Harry jumped clear. I was immensely proud.
What is the grooms’ community like? Do grooms support one another?
As grooms, we do not get a lot of time to socialize outside of the shows. All of the grooms are extremely close – we are a big friendship group. We see each other week in and week out so you form great friendships. It is a nice community of people.
It is a very supportive atmosphere as well – if you need help or are struggling, someone will come and help you. There is not a bad person in the grooming community. We are all very lucky that we have one another and that we support each other as it can get slightly overwhelming at some points.