In our new series ‘SPILL the Beans’ we get to know personalities from all areas of the equestrian world and bring you the inside info on their careers.
In the first in the series we have been catching up with Alex Van Tuyll who having spent 10 years working for William Fox-Pitt, has gone on to become a world renowned professional freelance groom in high demand. Having groomed at numerous Olympic Games, World and European Championships there are not many things Alex doesn’t know about caring for the equine athlete. As well as grooming Alex is on the board for the Event Horse Owners Association and also played a vital role in logistics and organising with the British team at this summer’s European Eventing Championships. So without further ado, let’s hear Alex SPILL the Beans…
- How did you get into Grooming? I evented myself up to 2* and I am by nature a very competitive person so when I wasn’t winning all the time I started to do the odd bit of grooming and then was offered a job and it went from there.
- What has been your favourite moment in your career? There have been a few but going to a home Olympics in London was very special but I also have some very fond memories from certain events, particularly where I’ve had some success.
- Do you have a favourite horse? Idalgo, is one but I have lots of special ones. To name a few Bay My Hero, DHI Lupison, Cooley Again and Las Cantas.
- Which is your favourite event and why? Without a doubt Burghley. I have been very fortunate to have looked after 5 winners there. The event is very people friendly with a positive can-do attitude so makes it an enjoyable place to be.
- Has your job ever led you to meet someone famous? A few years ago I was working somewhere when Madonna and Guy Richie came for some training. But whether I’ve met a famous person or not I have been incredibly lucky to meet so many people for all walks of life. Some now are my closest friends.
- What piece of equipment could you not be without at an event? A sense of humour as you can borrow literally anything else from someone!
- What is your go to food at an event? Red bull, crisps and dip, mint crisp.
- If you ever have time to do something outside of your job what would it be? There is always time, you just have to make it! I love going racing and hunting. The beach is also a top priority.
- The best line you’ve ever used to blag your way in or out of something?! Do you not know who I am? Always walk with purpose like you’re supposed to be there and normally no one questions it!! (They will now!)
- The best date you’ve ever been on? Many moons ago I was taken to Vienna to see the Spanish Riding School perform.
- What is your least favourite part of your job? Invoicing people for doing something I love and rude, ignorant people that do not appreciate your efforts. A thank you goes a long way.
- What is the best piece of advice anyone has given you? Be aware of your surroundings and open your eyes, there is always an opportunity to learn something.
- What advice would you give someone wanting to make a career out of grooming? Be prepared to graft, be honest and dedicated and you will reap so many rewards. I have been very fortunate to go to some amazing places that I would never have done if I had a 9-5 job.
- What is the strangest/funniest thing that has happened to you during your career? In my youth, travelling back from Burnham Market once I ended up going to Great Yarmouth instead of Norwich and was confused by the sea until I realised I had gone the wrong way on the A47. I always now look at the map myself rather than listen to my travelling companions!
- The last time somebody did something to surprise you? I found a red rose in a water bucket at an event once. Took a while to work out where it came from….
- If you hadn’t got into grooming what would have been your second choice career? A vet as I am fascinated in science. Luckily my sister is so I get to assist on the odd occasion.
Our thanks to Alex for SPILLing the Beans but we can’t believe she didn’t divulge who the sender of the red rose was!!! We hope you enjoyed hearing the experience of someone who is immersed in the industry and if you did, keep watching this space when we get someone else to SPILL the Beans shortly…
–Equestrian jobs, Freelance groom, Horse groom