very professional rider knows that a stellar groom is essential, and eventer Phillip Dutton's groom Emma Ford is known across the globe as one of the very best in the business. Experience is everything for a groom, and Emma has it in spades having grown up in a horse-centric family. Her dad was Master of Foxhounds and Emma herself earned a B rating in Pony Club.
A U.K. native, Emma arrived in the States in 1998 and began working for Phillip in 2005. Since then she has seen him and his horses safely through multiple appearances at the World Equestrian Games, Pan American Games, two Olympic Games, and countless four-stars. She continues to travel with Phillip to events around the world. At home, she is in charge of some 35-45 sales, training, staff, and competition horses and oversees the management of the whole barn.
"Having the opportunity to actually bond with the horses, getting to know them individually – that’s what means the most to me and why I get up every day. Every day is very different, but the horses are always ready to tell you something if you want to listen," Emma said.
Emma is passing her deep well of knowledge on through grooming and horse-care education clinics. In 2015, she and fellow groom Cat Hill co-authored "World-Class Grooming for Horses: The English Rider's Complete Guide to Daily Care and Competition", which has become a staple reference material for professional grooms and barn managers as well as amateur owners at all levels.
"You can never ever stop learning. Never close your mind off to new opportunities. Open yourself up to other disciplines and knowing how they might take care of their horse to build on your knowledge."
"I'm very surprised [to win Groom of the Year] and certainly appreciate all the help and support from everybody within the eventing community. As usual I think it takes a village to have the horses running at their best," Emma said. "It's really great to know there are people out there acknowledging the grooms. I want to thank Noëlle Floyd for doing that."
The annual Noëlle Floyd Best Of Awards celebrate the horses and riders who soar to great heights, the community leaders who move the needle in the sport, and the extra special moments that define our shared love of horses. For the 2018 NF Awards, we created short lists of extraordinary individuals who stood out to us this year, and then we handed it over to you to determine who is the best of the best. Turning out a record number of votes in NF Awards history, we heard you loud and clear. Now we’re rolling out the red carpet. One by one, we’ll announce the winners of all ten categories between now and the New Year.
Feature photo by Erin Gilmore.