Which horses Eric took to Spruce Meadows this year? Can you tell me a little bit about each of them?
Eric took Coco Bongo, Chacco Kid and Fine Lady 5. All three horses have very different personalities.
Coco Bongo is very easy going and nothing seems to really bother him. He’s very simple to take care of and has very low stress levels – I’d say he’s pretty cool. You can literally do anything with him – he’s so easy to have around all the time.
Chacco Kid is the sweetest thing I’ve ever met – I’ve never met a horse that understands humans like he does. He always wants someone’s attention and he always has something in his mouth – he will literally try to eat anything. When Eric is around his stress levels go up and he gets quite anxious because he always wants to please, and he knows that Eric expects a lot of him.
Fine Lady 5 is without doubt the most complicated out of the three. She’s the only mare that we have. She’s very sensitive and is bothered by everything, particularly music and anything loud – it drives her crazy. If it’s loud and she’s in the horse box, she’ll dig and roll around and generally cause a huge scene. She’s my absolute favourite, though and we’ll never have another one like her – she’s so willing to please all the time. When I look at her, I know I’ll never have another relationship with a horse quite like this one – she’s unbelievable.
How has your last year been? Any highlights?
After the 2018 CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, Eric had a long break, so things were a little slow. My absolute highlight was to see him back in the ring – it’s unbelievable what he can do. It wasn’t just a highlight for me, it was the highlight for all of the team. It was very difficult for all of us when he stopped showing. After everything that happened, to come here for the Summer Series and win two 5* classes back to back, we couldn’t have asked for any more than that.
Have any new horses joined Torrey Pines stable since the 2018 Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’?
We have a bit of a dealing stable and we always have a lot of horses coming and going. We have a few promising prospects at home, who we believe could do something, and Eric is hoping that they’ll be able to step up soon.
How much time do you spend travelling?
We’re only in Canada for five weeks of the year during the Summer Series. We’re then in Florida, USA from December through April, and the rest of the time we’re in Europe. It’s more exciting to be in Europe, as you’re at a new place every week, and in my opinion every European location is always beautiful.
Canada has qualified for Tokyo 2020; how are you and the team preparing for the Games next year?
We’re still a while away from Tokyo 2020 and it’s a long process, but we’re starting to discuss which of the horses we believe have the potential perform at the Games, and which types of classes we need them to jump to ensure they’re ready. We need to consider what time of the day we need to jump them, and if they need to jump more night classes, and we also must factor in the weather, as Tokyo could be very hot.
As a groom, do you feel added pressure coming to a Rolex Grand Slam Major?
Always. The week before the show starts, the stress levels at home are high. We’re doing absolutely everything we can to prepare to come here, as we know it’s a long hard week for Eric and the horses. The horses came from Europe, so they had to endure a long flight, and our aim is for them to be the best that they can be and on top form, as soon as they arrive here. For sure, it’s stressful – coming here for the ‘Masters’ isn’t the same as coming here for the Summer Series, as there’s a clear end goal at the end of this week.
Source: Press release from Rolex Grand Slam
Photo: © Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof