Marlen Schannwell & Clark Shipley in the Running for 2015 FEI Best Groom Award

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t is awards season at the FEI with the annual FEI Awards Gala evening fast approaching. Announced each day this week are the shortlists from 5 categories, Longines Rising Star, Reem Acra Best Athlete, Best Groom, Against All Odds and FEI Solidarity.

So far the nominees of the Longines Rising Star and the FEI Solidarity Awards have been announced; below are the nominees of the FEI Best Groom Award.

Grooms are that special group of people who underpin the success of our entire sport, ever present but rarely in the spotlight. The Best Groom Award seeks to highlight those grooms who really go above and beyond for their horses and riders.

Marlen Schannwell
Discipline: Jumping
Groom to: Bertram Allen

Marlen (pictured at top) started working for Bertram 4 years ago at the start of his career and has supported him as he reached the top. The horses are always well turned out, ears pricked and performance ready to go into the arena. Bertram’s performance over the last 12 months speaks volumes for the quality Marlen’s care for the horses. She has been spoken of as one of the most helpful grooms on the circuit who is always happy to answer questions and help others.

Alan Davies
Discipline: Dressage
Groom to: Charlotte Dujardin/Carl Hester

Grooming since he left school, Alan has worked for riders including Michael Matz and Emile Faurie before joining Carl in 2011. Known for his immaculate turnout skills, Alan is 100% in tune with his equine stars ensuring they are happy, calm and in peak condition wherever they are in the world. His relationship with his horses, especially Valegro, is regularly commented on as he travels everywhere with the horses ensuring everything is perfect for them.

Jennifer Arnsten
Discipline: Vautling
Groom to: USA Vaulting Team

Jen has travelled with the USA Vaulting team the last 5 years and has attended most of the world championships. She volunteers her time, taking personal vacation days off work to travel with the team and has the unique challenge of working with multiple horse owners, lungers and a volunteer staff of young aspiring grooms. Her ability to positively share her extensive knowledge of horse care with kids (some who have limited horse care knowledge) while also communicating with owners and lungers from other countries at a very professional level sets her apart. She manages to makes “hanging out in the barn” fun for everyone!

Zoltàn Herczeg
Discipline: Dressage
Groom to: Jessica von Bredow-Werndl

Zoltan was nominated by his rider Jessica who said: “He’s so hard working, giving his very best to make my horses smile and feel happy every day! When he came to my place in Germany 3 1/2 years ago, he didn’t speak a single word English or German. He’s a thorough and very passionate man! Zoltàn was so terrified of flying, but finally flew around the world with my horse Unee BB for the World Cup Finals in Las Vegas this year!”

Clark Shipley
Discipline: Jumping
Groom to: Beezie Madden, John Madden Sales

Clark has been with John and Beezie for more than 20 years. It goes without saying that his horsemanship and care for the horses is impeccable, but in addition to that his personality and ability to get along with all the integral members of the team like the vets, the riders, other grooms, owners, shippers etc. is fantastic. He has a way with people and a way with horses and is able to work with others in a pleasant and productive manner that is second to none. He is truly and effective person who is brilliant at his job.

Imogen Mercer
Discipline: Eventing
Groom to: Sam Griffiths

At just 22 years old, Imogen Mercer certainly belies her years. The maturity she shows in her role as our head girl is quite extraordinary. She is a ‘people person’ and has a unique ability to be as good at caring for the horses as she is at managing the other members of the team and talking to our owners. With intelligence and common sense she continually strives to create and maintain a happy environment and can handle any situation positively and calmly. This quality is hard to find in anyone, let alone a girl of just 22 years old. She shows the experience and maturity of someone who has been in this industry for many, many years. Imogen maintains continuity on the yard, managing a team of horses and staff, ensuring the team of working pupils, grooms, work riders, physiotherapist, dentist and farrier all understand the requirements and commitments of each individual horse. Her steadfast ability to think clearly in times of pressure such as preparing horses for international competition means she can always be relied upon to ensure Sam’s horses receive the very best care.

Jose Eduardo Garcia Luna (“Eddie”)
Discipline: Dressage
Groom to: Steffen Peters

Eddie has been a vital part of US Dressage for almost 10 years. Eddie is the groom for Steffen Peters but also the mentor and sounding board for other staff and grooms. He sets himself apart from his peers by being the person who brings the team together–by sharing his expertise in equestrian care, his good sense of humour or by demonstrating sportsmanship while doing even the most lacklustre tasks. Steffen describes, “Eddie truly goes above and beyond for not only the horses, but he is the biggest team player for all of the other team members and their grooms. He is an absolute expert in the care of the horses, and always meticulous in everything he does.” Eddie has earned the respect of his peers, his employers, Federation staff and officials in the field. He is proud of his horses, riders and the sport of the Dressage. He is an integral to the success of our team as he not only embodies all of the qualities of a superb groom but he is also a great representative of our sport.