Meet Kerri – Pro Groom on the Road to Rio!
Hello fellow grooms, riders and horse lovers! I am Kerri Coufal and my official job title this summer is Groom for the dashing Rosevelt (aka Rosie) and Allison Brock. Ali and Rosie are making a run at the 2016 Olympics in Rio (currently ranked 5th in the US in dressage!!).
Rosie and I all ready to go! Note his halter fuzzies and vet wrap on his halter buckles to help prevent any face rubs on his long trip.
First question I usually get asked is how I landed one of the best grooming jobs out there?! In all honesty, I just got really lucky! Ali and I have a mutual friend/previous employer who put me in contact with her (shout out to the amazing Linda!!) and the timing was right, as Ali was looking for help. I’ve found that so much of where you get in life is based on who you know, so having positive references with the people you meet is very important, especially in the small world of horses. I have two younger sisters so I LOVE to give advice (my opinion), whether or not they want it. My two pieces of advice when interviewing for a job with a top rider is don’t wear obnoxious purple pants and don’t mention that you recently watched Magic Mike. Fortunately my pants were brown that day and Ali overlooked the Magic Mike thing. There are many other things you should/should not do but this is a start to the long list.
So in August of last year, I packed my bags and moved from Colorado to Virginia and it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! My long term goal is to be a competitive rider at the top level in dressage, so spending the summer in Europe with Ali (who is an AMAZING person and I’m not just saying that because we’re “stuck” together all summer) and the rest of our top riders is truly a dream come true!
Some of our gear packed and ready! Note my American Flag duct tape so we know which boxes are ours.
Since this is proequinegrooms, I wanted to share some actual groom advice and how we got ready for Retie, Belgium, where we will be based from. We have been essentially packing for a month now. We started setting stuff aside and would make a run to the tack store, then another run to another store and basically do that on repeat for a month! I was packing for 4 months and 2 horses so this means 4 months worth of supplements, tack, show gear, everyday gear, etc (side note: Rosie has A LOT of stuff). It was also essential that I had Costco size containers of peanut butter pretzels for Ali’s coach, Michael Barisone. It was discovered this past Wellington season that Michael shares an addiction to peanut butter pretzels with me and he requested a “pallet” of them for Europe. About a week before the trip our assistant trainer/barn manager/master organizer, Adrienne and I decided to make a dent in our packing. The other thing to keep in mind when packing boxes is that you have to be able to move them so that meant attempting to distribute the weight evenly, even if it meant not having things quite so organized. The OCD person in me will fix this immediately upon arriving at the farm in Belgium! I also numbered all the boxes and have lists of what is in all of them so when we arrive and Ali starts rummaging through everything, I can ask what she’s looking for and point her in the right direction. The two days before we left was then easy as we just had to finish packing the everyday stuff. Six boxes (on wheels because I am not a body builder!) and one upright later, I hope we have everything and Rosie is ready for Retie.
Rosie and Ali loading up on the truck that took us to the airport.
We had a 4:30am wake up call on May 5 to feed and groom Rosie and drag all of our gear to the end of the driveway for our early morning pick up to the Miami airport where we would then wait all day for our flights. Ali and Rosie flew together and I took a separate commercial flight where I will meet them in Europe.
My new buddy, Daphne who rode in the truck down to the airport with me.
I’m so excited for the summer ahead! GO TEAM USA!
PART THREE – THE FIRST SHOW