everything you need to know about Chrisy Salmon

  • This week Susie Berry and her rider John The Bull are contesting their first five star ranking at Badminton Horse Trials presented by Mars Equestrian. Susie, 26, rides the Irish flag and has a string of achievements including third place at the Blenheim Horse Trials with John in 2021. She spent a number of years with Piggy March before starting her own farm in Northamptonshire in 2020.

    But behind every great rider at this level there is a great groom and this week Chrisy Salmon is helping Susie every step of the way.

    Chrisy is 28 and has been a professional caregiver for eight years. Born in North London and raised in the Hertfordshire/Bedfordshire area, she says that apart from her father being “interested in racing”, she has no equine background.

    “My sister and I both rode horses a little bit when we were younger and started helping out at a riding school and getting free lessons because we volunteered to ride the naughty pony and stuff like that,” explains Chrisy . “As we moved out of London and into the countryside, we kept seeing horses in the fields and wondering, ‘Can we please ride one?’ And I think the nagging paid off. I was 12 when I got my first Saturday job so I was the richest 12 year old in the village making £15 a week and it built up from there. I definitely jumped at every opportunity that came my way.”

    Chrisy says she always wanted a career in horses, but that at first she wasn’t quite sure what that career would be.

    “I just knew that my heart was for horses and that it was the only thing I could really get passionate about,” says Chrisy. “So I went to college in Hartpury and spent two years there, followed by a job at a rental car yard.”

    It was at this stable that Chrisy got her first taste of tournament maintenance when the owners did a bit of dressage.

    “I ended up helping out on a few shows and really enjoyed it,” she says. “Then I got a job with Sarah Bullimore and with her I went to my very first horse tests. Sarah literally taught me everything and I actually groomed myself at a long format event before I was even groomed at a one day event. When I finally went to a one-day, I was done with grease, duct tape, Tubigrip – all the things you needed in a three-day and she said, ‘No, we don’t need those here, this is a now much more casual!’”

    Chrisy worked for Sarah for four years before deciding she wanted “a little change” so she moved in with Susie three years ago.

    This week Chrisy will be babysitting 11-year-old John, who is owned by Caroline Berry, mother of Helen Canton and Susie, while playing badminton.

    “John’s a cocky character – he really knows his stuff – but even he’s come in here and gone, ‘Okay, something’s different.’ I think he realized that it’s bigger and better than anywhere else he’s ever been, so even he was blown away a bit!” Chrissi laughs. “When Susie rides him there’s still a lot in him so she still has a lot of work to do, but he’s definitely more affable on the ground. I think he finally said, ‘Oh, okay, maybe I’m not the best here today’.”

    Susie and John The Bull at the first badminton horse inspection

    Chrisy says perhaps what she loves about her job is obviously the horses.

    “The hours can be long and there are many aspects of the job that might put people off, but I just think you get up every day and think about the horses all the time, and even in the evenings when I’m when I’m in front of the Sitting on TV, I can think, ‘Oh, I have to mane that horse tomorrow’ – you can’t turn it off.” She explains.

    “As far as badminton goes, this is not only Susie’s first five-star prize, it’s John’s first five-star prize, and when you love the horses you take care of you want to do those firsts with them; their first intermediate or their first long format, and then the first big one, when you go to Le Lion D’Angers or Blenheim – those milestone moments – then you think, ‘I was there for that and I helped them get there’, and that’s the thing that keeps you going.

    “Even if you’re like, ‘Oh, do I really want to keep doing this because my body is about to shut down? Or do I just want a little more money?’ It’s always the horses that keep you there and you think, ‘well, maybe I’ll wait another year, I’ll do another badminton’ or something. I’m particularly looking to move on at the moment as Susie has a good lineup of horses this year and they’re all working their way up so hopefully we’ve got some exciting ones and there are certain horses that I know I want to have at certain events be there.”

    Even for non-horse people badminton has a special appeal and that couldn’t be more apt for how Chrisy feels about being here this week.

    “I’ve cleaned here with Sarah a few times before, but obviously not for a couple of years. It’s nice to be back and even at the trot people were sitting and waiting for it to start two hours early which is crazy – everyone’s like ‘Oh my god badminton is back!’ and it’s definitely back with a bang,” says Chrisy, smiling. “It’s a very special place – it’s just a different feeling when you drive in. As a groom you have all your best blankets and I even bought a new grooming kit for this week. Even though it is nerve wracking to set up, so much excitement.”

    Read our full badminton form guide in this week’s edition of horse & dog (May 5, 2022 edition). Our superb 20 page badminton report appears in our 12th May issue and keeps you up to date with all the action during badminton week via horseandhound.co.uk where a variety of features and reports are published.

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