Hartpury student Ellen Arnold perfected her plaiting and put in a gold star grooming performance as she supported a top Canadian rider to shine on the international stage.
Ellen, 17, who is studying the Level 3 Extended Diploma in Horse Management and is a member of the Grooms Academy at Hartpury, headed to Mannheim in Germany to look after a horse called 'Inspector Rebus', who is owned by Grade 1A para-dressage rider Jody Schloss.
The Canadian Para-Equestrians were on the last stop of their European tour, going up against top international competitors at CPEDI 3* Mannheim.
Arriving a few days before the competition, Ellen was able to interact with the horse on training days and she was part of the team responsible for plaiting him and preparing him to standard on show days.
"In the run-up to the competition, I was mucking him out and changing his water and hay," said Ellen.
"Being a grey, he also needed a lot of washing! I also had to tack up and hold Rebus while Jodie was helped get on and I walked him out three times a day to get him out the stable and get him used to the showground.
"It was really daunting having the job of getting him groomed and prepared on show days but everyone was really helpful for the whole week I was there.
"It was invaluable experience learning to work in the unique environment of an international competition and getting to groom to such a high standard. The experience took me out of my comfort zone and made me think for myself, which built my confidence. It helped broaden my knowledge in dressage and of para riders too, as well as giving me experience of working at a fast pace in a big team.
"It was amazing and I'm really grateful to the Grooms Academy at Hartpury for putting me forward for this experience. I need to say a big thank you to Clare Farmer, Kerry Anne Bourne and Rob Barker.
"Eventually, I would love to become a producer and rider but I know I'll need to achieve this through working my way up, and starting with grooming, so experiences like this will boost my CV and help me achieve my dream."
Clare Farmer, Equine lecturer at Hartpury and Grooms Academy Manager, said: "The Grooms Academy at Hartpury gives students an excellent grounding in terms of developing their skills and gaining experience, including at high level competitions.
"As well as having the unique opportunity to support our own events, including the Festival of Dressage and International Horse Trials, students also benefit from the extensive contacts that our staff have within the industry, which helps secure excellent work experience opportunities.
"Some, like Ellen, are even lucky enough to support top riders and horses on the international circuit. She has followed in the footsteps of Hartpury graduate, previous Grooms Academy member Zoe Boyles and Kerry Anne-Bourne, who supported the Canadian para-dressage team at many competitions including London 2012."