When it comes to packing the all-important ring bag for a horse show, the typical train of thought is: the more the merrier! But the more you pack, the heavier the bag. Being prepared for any situation — big or small — is imperative, especially since horses, tack, and riders can be unpredictable at times. But for American show jumper Andrew Kocher’s newly minted groom, Steffi Uecker, packing a light ring bag is the name of the game and her signature MO.
“I’m always riding to the ring, and Andy is pretty easy going so I don’t need that much,” Steffi says.
Born in Germany, Steffi grew up around horses as her mother was a riding instructor. Although she didn’t want to compete herself, becoming a professional groom was always in the cards. Starting her career in Germany, Steffi learned the ropes and developed her skills as a reliable person on the ground. Knowing Andy was in search of an FEI groom last fall, Steffi jumped at the chance to work him.
Passionate about horses and life on the road, Steffi’s life as a show groom has blossomed into a career and what she describes as “more of an adventure.” Previously working for top names such as Germany’s Lars Nieberg and Canada’s Tiffany Foster, Steffi has found a happy place with Andy following Lars’ retirement from the top level of the sport. After a few years of honing her craft, what does Steffi’s ring bag look like? Let’s take a look.
1. Small but mighty — a towel
“I always have a towel with me,” Steffi says. It's the most important item that she never leaves the barn without. For a last-minute wipe of slobber or a quick buff of Andy's boots before entering the ring, a clean towel is a must.
2. An extra set of hind boots
Carrying a variety of hind boots from lightweight to heavier weight is a necessity. Steffi explains that Andy “sometimes changes the back boots at the warmup. So I take a change of back boots, maybe put a little heavier ones on to jump in.”
3. Scissors and tape
“I have scissors and tape in case something breaks, or if I have to fix something on the bridle. Also, I have latex for just in case Andy wants to change something on the bit.” Simple but so important.
4. Plenty of treats
Treats are a must when Andy’s horses come out of the ring. A simple pleasure for them to know they did an good job in the ring and offer positive reinforcement.
5. Never forget a lead rope
Steffi attests that “[a groom] should never be without a lead rope, in my mind.” This can come in handy for getting your own horse from point A to point B, but your fellow grooms and riders will thank you when you come to the rescue for the inevitable loose horse at a horse show.
6. A mane comb
Steffi always carries a mane comb “for the tail just in case the tail gets dirty” following the warm up. She has a keen eye for detail and keeps her horses impeccably turned out.
7. A handy hole punch
Always ready to make any last-minute adjustments to the tack, Steffi carries a hole punch “in case I need to change something on the bridle or punch holes in the martingale.”
All photos by Shannon Brinkman for NoelleFloyd.com