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Here at EN, we truly believe that grooms are some of the real superheroes of our industry, and we love every opportunity we get to pick their brains and see them in action at events all over the world. And one groom in particular has been a real celebrity for anyone who wants to be a better groom, or simply a better horseman: the ineffable Jackie Potts.
This year, Jackie celebrates 30 years as the head honcho of Fox-Pitt Eventing this year, a tenure that began for her right at the beginning of William’s international career. She’s been by his side as the architect of his success all the way through, and in the last few years, she’s been the lynchpin of Kazu Tomoto’s extraordinary career, too. My own interactions with Jackie have been numerous, and varied, and all completely brilliant: ‘Grans’, as she’s known on the circuit, is always quick with a smile and a chat at events, and will answer even the silliest of questions as she juggles her millions of responsibilities and basically keeps the world turning.
But I first met her not as a journalist, but as a teenaged eventing enthusiast spending three days trialling for a working pupil job at William’s. It was there that Jackie taught me several things that I’ve used consistently since — horse management tips, mostly, but above all, the concept of the ‘shit sandwich’. This pillar of Jackie’s much-loved and respected management style works like this: when you want to make a constructive criticism or point out a mistake, you begin by mentioning something that the person has done well. Then, you offer advice for improvement on the thing that’s not so good, before finishing with another positive point.
It works in every facet of life, because it leads with kindness and makes people feel even more motivated to improve and succeed. So from all of us at EN, happy anniversary, Jackie! Thanks for your wisdom and your positivity. We have no criticisms to put in this sandwich.
Tuesday News & Notes from Around the World:
We’ve all been glued to the FEI Eventing Forum, which took place in France over the weekend. One of the major topics on the roster was safety within the sport, and how it can be improved — and some of the numbers crunched showed that although rotational falls are on the decline, the severity of those that do still occur is significant. Here’s what that means, and what the next steps could look like. [Eliminating rotationals]
One of my favourite parts of the season is seeing the Intercollegiate competition photos. Weirdly specific? Not if you’ve ever seen a truly hilarious photo of a college sports mascot invading a cross-country course, nor if you’ve ever felt your heart warmed by the sheer joy of a team of students absolutely smashing out a win. It’s a brilliant programme, and one I would love to see even more of this year — so if you’re a college student who loves eventing, check out the newly-released calendar and start planning! [The Intercollegiate Eventing League calendar is here]
Winter’s not good for much, but it is a chance to get your horse’s mane and tail in check. I’m a bit lazy, so I tend to let my horse have a bit of a free-growth period before I get the pulling comb out ready for early-season plaits, but even if your horse needs to look show-ready throughout the winter, you can use this time to tend to those scabby bits, the bald patches, and all the rest. [Here’s how]
It’s a tough call to make — but sometimes, stepping back from eventing is the right thing to do. That’s the call that five-star competitor Hannah Bate after discovering that eventing just doesn’t light her fire anymore. Her experience isn’t totally uncommon, and it’s an interesting one to read. [Hannah’s next steps]
Sponsor Corner: Could Vitamin E help horses with neurological disease? New research shows that the right vitamin E supplement could be beneficial! Check out this blog on the topic from Kentucky Performance Products!
Can’t cross-country school at the moment for whatever reason? Reap the benefits by tuning in for British eventer Ashley Harrison’s lessons: