“This was amazing. Just insane. Watching the process of Simone teaching him in just six weeks and putting the test together, she did amazing,” Emily explains. “I was not expecting a medal. I thought we would be really lucky to have the bronze, but silver was very special. An amazing day. One of the best days for sure.”
TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAMWORK
It appears clear from the outside looking in that Emily and Simone have a fantastic working relationship. Emily says that despite being friends, they work really well together and it is “super easy” and “very natural”. I ask how they are able to mix business and friendship so well. “We always just communicate straight up – even sometimes before things come up. We are really good at talking and making sure there are no potential conflicts, just by having everything so clear.”
Emily says Simone likes to focus on the big international competitions, which equates to a fair bit of preparation for her, as groom, to get things ready. “The day before, I am usually making sure the horses are nice and clean. Prior to that I am packing and making sure we have the papers for travel. Usually, we are travelling pretty far. We need to be really prepared with everything, including taking hay and shavings and making sure it’s never a rush.”
Upon arrival at the show venue, she checks that the horses have travelled well and are comfortable. “We ensure we take the time to make sure the horses are settling in before doing anything with them; that they have time to really come down at the show,” she says. Emily explains that usually the horses are lightly ridden by Simone, jogging and stretching, for their first ride at a venue. Whilst this doesn’t require huge preparation from her end, Emily still has much to get done in the background such as preparing boxes, plaiting and getting them ready for vet check.
“Basically, [I do things] so Simone doesn’t need to worry about anything; so that she can be in a good state of mind and know that everything is taken care of. We’ve done it together for so many years now that I don’t even have to think, it’s natural and works seamlessly.”
When she is not at a show, a working week usually comprises of Monday to Friday, with weekends off. Although, she often will pop in on the weekend to check on the horses, especially now they have moved and are a smaller team at the Ritzinger property. “Usually, we balance life and work pretty well,” Emily says. “There is a lot of socialising, going for dinner or doing something on the weekend. If we do have the time, we are going to different cities, because that’s the nice thing about Europe, it’s so easy to get around.”
With such a busy schedule and with the responsibility of managing such expensive equine athletes, I ask Emily what the best thing about the job is. “With Simone and I being best friends, it’s so special to work together. It makes everything for me way more special. When we had the silver medal, for example, it was such a big moment.”
She says she really enjoys forming bonds with the horses, too. “It’s really nice handling them and knowing them all from the start and getting to know their personalities. Watching their progression every day with Simone is also really good,” Emily adds.