We love celebrating and learning about the #supergrooms who make this sport go around — quite literally! — so we’re on a mission to interview as many grooms as we can to learn about their journeys. Catch up on the other interviews from this series here and nominate a #supergroom of your own by emailing [email protected]!
Now that the (volcanic) dust has just about settled from the 2022 FEI World Championships of Eventing in Pratoni, we want to know everything about the experience from the folks who were at the heart of it. We caught up with Meredith Ferraris, travelling groom to Ariel Grald and chief caretaker to Leamore Master Plan (also known as Simon), to ask her some of our burning questions about her experience preparing for the biggest event of her rider and horse’s careers.
EN: How did you get into grooming?
MF: I was managing a barn after college and it just didn’t feel like the right fit. I wanted to move back to North Carolina to be closer to my family so I looked on Yard and Groom in early 2018. The only job in this location was working for Ariel and although I didn’t have any previous grooming experience, we both decided to take a chance and the rest is history!
EN: How did you prepare for Pratoni?
MF: I have several detailed packing lists depending on the type of horse show and time of year, so I was able to create one for Pratoni based off of those. Preparing was particularly challenging because I had to be completely packed for Europe before we left for Great Meadow. Simon and I didn’t return home before shipping overseas — I had to make sure we brought everything we would need for the following month so that definitely made it a little trickier!
EN: What are some essential items to pack for a trip like this?
MF: The number one packing priority is always Mrs. Pastures cookies — we don’t go anywhere without Simon’s favorite treat! Simon is a big horse and traveling isn’t easy on his body, so I always make sure to bring therapy tools that will keep him feeling his best. For this trip I brought his Bemer blanket and boots, a handheld laser, and his nebulizer to help him recover from all the lorry and airplane rides.
EN: What’s your favorite thing about Simon?
MF: Simon has a very big personality and likes to express himself at all times, making him one of my favorites in the barn. Most of the time he’s very polite (unless he gets a little fresh!) and he’s just a lot of fun to spend time with on the ground. He’s always down for a good face hug and a cuddle in the stall.
EN: What was your favorite thing about going to Pratoni?
MF: One of my favorite parts of traveling overseas is getting to know the grooms and competitors better. You end up spending a lot of time together and it usually ends up forming some very lasting friendships. Pratoni was exciting because it had the team dynamic to add to the international championship experience and everyone was rooting just as much for other U.S. riders as they were for the ones they worked for.
EN: What was challenging about the trip?
MF: It’s challenging to keep enough weight on a fit 5* horse and traveling only makes that more difficult, so helping Simon maintain weight throughout his travels and competing was my biggest priority. He’s already a very picky eater and tends to lose a little bit of weight while traveling. It was such a long trek to get over to Pratoni, but luckily I’m used to catering to his changing needs and was able to keep his weight up.