Candace Green is a full time groom for Juniper Farms and two-time Olympian Jill Henselwood in Ontario, Canada, but for the next three months she’ll be performing her duties in Thermal, California for the duration of the HITS Coachella circuit. Candace has kindly agreed to share some of her experiences grooming for a world class pro.
As the New Year starts, so does a new show season! While the rest of the countryside relaxes and enjoys the holidays, the grooms at Juniper Farms have been hustling hard. HITS Coachella is rapidly approaching and the farm is crackling with anticipation. After enjoying several months of turnout, hacking, and training, even the horses are anxious to get on the road.
Packing for a series like HITS Coachella requires some intense organizing. Endless games of Trunk Tetris have to be played to ensure all the equipment fits. The look on a groom’s face when they’ve finally wrestled the lid shut, only to realize they’ve forgotten a cooler or a set of boots would break your heart! The sheer volume of STUFF required to run a barn is pretty mind blowing. Our barn aisle looks a lot like a crowded flea market. Chest freezer? Fans? Trunks? Bikes? We’ve got all that, and more.
Despite the crowded barn aisles and the empty tack rooms, it still feels surreal. In just over 24-hours, we’re packing up 14 horses and everything we own, and driving across the continent. It’s hard to believe that we’re going to be living in another country for the next three months.
My two coworkers have never driven long distances before, but there’s nothing I can say to prepare them for what they’re about to experience! Spending several days in a car with another person is a sure way to get to know them quickly, and thoroughly. It doesn’t take long for exhaustion and weirdness to set in.
The journey is approximately 4,600 kilometers (around 2850 miles) from Juniper Farms to the HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California. Hauling horses is slow going, too – we’ll have two 24-hour layovers to rest the horses (and the humans!) in Lexington, Kentucky and Amarillo, Texas. We should reach our destination in about five days. The next time you hear from me, winter will be long gone. Sunny California, here we come!