This month, we’ll be highlighting the elbow grease that the hardworking grooms of the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games put in to their charges. The horses competing at the Games in Tryon, N.C., are settling into the beautiful grounds at Tryon International Equestrian Center – including U.S. eventing team horse Donner, who is ridden by Lynn Symansky.
Lynn and Donner, a 15-year-old off-track Thoroughbred, have nine CCI4* completions under their belt, including the 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy. Lynn has ridden Donner since his lower-level career, and this pair will be one to watch come cross-country day at WEG.
Kendyl Tracy, one of Donner’s longtime grooms, was kind enough to answer some questions about the “Flying Deer” who is a perennial fan favorite.
HDM: Can you tell us a funny quirk that some people may not know about Donner?
KT: Donner is a bit of a weird guy, which is all the more reason I love his personality. He loves having his eyes and ears very lightly touched. He will even find a long piece of hay or twine in his stall and rest his face near it.
HDM: What is the first thing and the last thing you pack/do before leaving for a big event?
KT: I always pack the things I don’t use on a daily bases first, such as the equipment we only use at shows, wash and grooming supplies, buckets and such we use to set up. The last things that get packed are his tack and equipment we use every day.
HDM: What’s the one thing you can’t live without as a groom?
KT: Particularly with Donner, I don’t leave the barn without his rope halter.
HDM: Any superstitions?
KT: I try to not be a superstitious person. The only thing that I always do is wear my deer socks when Donner is running cross-country.
HDM: Do you have a favorite memory from a big event or championship?
KT: Grooming at my first team event was such a educational experience. The team behind all these horses and riders are truly amazing. It was fun to be a small part of that team for the first time.
HDM: What made you decide to be a groom/working student/barn manager?
KT: I found this position just from the love of the sport and horses. Being a groom has shown me what it is like at the highest level of the sport and given me opportunities I never would have imagined.
HDM: Say one thing to “your” rider as you prepare for WEG.
KT: Just kick and take care of my Deer!
Photography courtesy Leslie Mintz/Lynn Synamsky Eventing