Max Corcoran has groomed internationally at the highest levels of equestrian sport for nearly two decades. She worked for the O’Connor Event Team for 11 years and has served at multiple Olympic Games, World Championships, Pan American Games and countless CCIs across the U.S. and Europe. She now lives in Ocala, Fla., with her partner Scott Keach, who competes Grand Prix show jumpers.
We wanted to know what kind of care event horses should receive the night before and morning of cross-country.
“I don’t usually sleep a lot. As grooms, we have to make sure our rider’s only responsibility is getting on and riding the horse. It’s very important for us to make sure everything is completely organized, everything is calm, everything is so ready to go. We have our boots set up. A lot of times when I leave here, I’m going to go back to the barn and pull out my cross country boots, my bell boots, check all my tack to make sure I have everything that I need tomorrow.
I got to the Pan American Gamess in 2007 with little Teddy (eventing super pony and Karen O’Connor’s CCI4* mount, Theodore O’Connor) and there I was, with this pony, and everything was great. I went to find my cross-country boots the night before and I didn’t have them. I had two horses in quarantine and mixed up the boots – I had thrown both their boots into the other trunk. But, knowing that the night before, I was able to do something about it. Though finding pony sized boots in Brazil was a bit difficult. I did it though.
It’s really important to have everything organized and set out. I always get my wash buckets set out, that’s important for your horses too. Have everything very organized so you know you have everything, you can fix something that’s not there, and again – keep the horses calm.
The morning of, I always try to feed the horses about 3-4 hours before they compete. Other things we may do: our farriers will take a bit of glue and add some on the back of the heel and fill in the gap between the heel and the shoe, that prevents that gap from where they can pull the shoe off. After they run cross country we pull that off as soon as possible, because it is hard glue. Some horses are too sensitive for it, but it can prevent that gap that would cause a shoe to be easily pulled off. Especially with the hot weather, we will really check their water intake and make sure they’re getting enough to drink. If you have a horse that isn’t drinking very well, something we would do is run (intravenous) fluids for them. It can help rehydrate them and keep them ahead of the game before (cross-country) when they could tie up or stress themselves out too much.”