When Will and Katie Coleman insisted Hailey Burlock and her fellow groom Erin Jarboe attend the awards banquet on the 2022 U.S. Eventing Affiliation Annual Assembly and Conference held in December in Savannah, Georgia, the 2 have been thrilled. Will’s mount, Dondante, had earned the Caser Trophy because the Standlee USEA Horse of the 12 months for house owners Staff Rebecca LLC, and the grooms have been honored to be included within the celebration. However when the ladies arrived, each seen that everybody appeared to be performing a bit surprisingly towards them. In whispered voices, they requested one another what the explanation may presumably be.
“After which the [Liz Cochran Memorial] Grooms Award comes round, and so they introduced our names,” Burlock remembered with amusing. “We have been ecstatic. It was a whole shock—we had no thought. They did an excellent job holding it a secret. Will and Katie do a very good job ensuring we’re valued in our jobs, however it was nonetheless good to be acknowledged in that method. It felt actually particular.”
For Burlock, 25, grooming for Will Coleman Equestrian for the previous three years has been the success of a dream she by no means even envisioned as a younger eventing fanatic rising up in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. Whereas incomes a formidable assortment of passport stamps accompanying the WCE crew to venues together with Aachen (Germany), Luhmühlen (Germany) and most not too long ago, the 2022 FEI Eventing World Championships in Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy, Burlock has realized to deal with any problem, from managing pre-export quarantine overseas to flying within the cargo maintain with five-star horses.
“I really feel very honored to be part of Will’s crew proper now,” Burlock stated. “I actually take pleasure in my job a lot.”
An Unintended Path
As a teen, Burlock was launched to eventing by way of coach Zoe Erichsen-Meesters and instantly fell in love with the game.
“I really like that it’s not only one section you need to be good at,” Burlock stated. “It’s the totally different elements of placing all of it collectively and the extent of horse administration required. It takes lots in any self-discipline, however to have the ability to put these three phases collectively and actually produce a very good end result on the day is kind of extraordinary. And naturally, I really like cross-country.”
By means of Erichsen-Meesters, Burlock leased former upper-level horse Fantasia and competed by way of Equine Canada’s coaching stage, roughly equal to novice within the U.S. When Burlock completed highschool, she pursued a level in forestry on the Maritime School of Forest Know-how with an eye fixed to turning into a park ranger. However upon commencement, she accepted a chance to work for Canadian Olympic eventer Rob Stevenson, a place she held for 2 years earlier than returning to highschool for extra superior research.
“However I used to be actually lacking horses,” she stated. “I had an urge to be part of the excessive efficiency facet of issues, however the one method for me to be part of the game at a excessive stage was to be a groom. I got here later to the precise sport of eventing, and I couldn’t afford to do it by myself, like most grooms.
“Then a pal despatched me the job posting for Will Coleman Equestrian,” she continued. “I had a cellphone interview with them, and I advised Katie I simply needed to end my exams. I used to be on a aircraft to Florida quickly after that, and I’ve been with them ever since.”
Burlock believes that the intuitive understanding and connection she develops with every animal in her care is among the many most rewarding elements of the job.
“The love of the horses, being round them, and being such an enormous a part of their lives is why I wish to do that on daily basis,” she stated. “You will need to actually know and take note of what your horse is telling you. I really feel like that’s simpler to do when you’ve been with particular horses for a time frame, since you actually do get to know them and what they want. You learn to assist them carry out at their highest and greatest capabilities.”
For example, Burlock shared that Will’s world championship accomplice Off The Report will solely load backwards onto his transport pallet when he must journey by aircraft.
“He is aware of precisely what he’s doing,” Burlock with amusing. “You’d assume he’d wish to stroll proper on, however he simply appears to be like at you want, ‘I stated I’m not doing that.’ And figuring out him, he gained’t. We have now to take aside the divider and transfer all the things over; he backs on, and we flip him round on the pallet. It’s form of a humorous factor for a horse who has traveled a lot!”
Burlock enjoys the problem of caring for the horses in flight and notes that the expertise has taught her to be ready for something.
“It’s an enormous course of to get these horses over there and nonetheless have them be wholesome and capable of compete on the highest stage,” she stated. “They’re [in] these very giant cargo planes, and there’s a ladder to go down and test on them. Relying on the horses you might be with, and the way lengthy the flight is, you go down very often to test on them and ensure they’re nonetheless doing properly.
“In the event that they’re not, you’ve got to have the ability to make selections and do what’s greatest for them,” she added. “It’s ensuring you’ve got all of the stuff you would possibly doubtlessly want in your flight luggage—particularly if the flight will get delayed, which is quite common on these large cargo flights. Being ready is a large factor.”
Burlock prioritizes preparation with the horses on the bottom as properly.
“I wish to be extraordinarily organized, planning forward and being prepared for not simply the worst-case state of affairs, however any state of affairs,” she stated. “In case you are ready at that stage, and one thing dangerous does occur, you might be prepared, and you’ve got the information and expertise to have the ability to deal with what has gone otherwise than what you anticipated.
“Having that mindset—being ready in that method—is extraordinarily useful for me,” she added. “On a day-to-day foundation, being proactive could be extra work in that second, however will make your life lots simpler in the long term.”
Burlock has performed an integral behind-the-scenes position for WCE at a number of main worldwide occasions, together with Will and Off The Report’s historic win at Aachen in 2021 and their crew silver medal-winning efficiency on the FEI Eventing World Championships. Although she admits she feels the strain at these high-profile competitions, she’s additionally taken them as alternatives to study from different high caliber grooms.
“At Aachen, it was a crew occasion additionally, in order that was my first time representing Staff USA,” Burlock stated. “There was a lot to absorb and study, from how everybody else offers with their horses to how they do the on a regular basis issues otherwise. You study little ideas and tips.
“It’s undoubtedly a dream,” Burlock continued. “However when you find yourself there, you might be simply doing all of your job. I get extraordinarily targeted, and there’s instances you need to decide your head up a little bit bit and go searching and understand the place you might be. It’s a surreal feeling to go to those locations. On the finish of the weekend, as soon as it’s throughout, it’s like, ‘Wow, I can’t consider we simply did that.’ However typically, it’s arduous to understand all of it within the second.”
The world championships organizing committee made a particular effort to acknowledge grooms, portraying their names and pictures each on the large display and on-line whereas their athletes have been competing. Burlock notes that this gesture was deeply appreciated—however for Staff USA, the grooms have been equally grateful for the assist of Chef d’Equipe Bobby Costello, USEF Eventing Elite Program and Staff Facilitator Max Corcoran and Christina Vaughn, USEF director for eventing efficiency and program assist, and different crew supporters who checked in always and saved them provided with snacks, meals and water.
“Which will appear to be a really small factor, however once we’re so busy, and also you’re in distant areas, it makes a world of distinction for us,” Burlock stated. “That entire group made it attainable for everybody to do their jobs properly, riders included.”
Burlock and Jarboe attempt to share the journey alternatives.
“We attempt to swap off as a lot as we are able to, taking turns,” Burlock stated. “We have now our sure horses, and that additionally impacts it. For a few of the larger occasions, we’ll each go. It’s not at all times essentially the most luxurious to remain residence, however any individual’s acquired to do it, and we’re so fortunate to have such a fantastic group of those that we by no means fear that issues should not getting executed proper.”
Presently, the crew at WCE is targeted on making ready horses for the Land Rover Kentucky CCI5*-L, with plans to compete at Rocking Horse (Florida), Ocala (Florida) and Carolina Worldwide (North Carolina) alongside the way in which. But when there’s one lesson Burlock has realized, it’s that horses have a method of fixing one of the best laid plans.
“All of them have their Plan A, B and C,” she stated. “We simply wait and see how they’re feeling and doing after which do what’s greatest for them.”
Within the meantime, Burlock appears to be like ahead to the academic alternatives the Colemans provide to their crew—she particularly enjoys finding out and making use of the therapies utilized to maintain their equine athletes in high type—and visits from her mother and father, Tami and Dana Burlock, who nonetheless reside in New Brunswick.
“I’m an solely little one and fairly shut with my household, so I do get homesick, and I miss them,” Hailey stated. “It’s arduous to be away from residence. However they’re supportive, and they’re completely satisfied I’m doing one thing I really like.”
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