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Ellen Peters: “I love to discover a new horse, to spend time with them and figure out their personality”

Thursday, 20 August 2020
Interview

Photo © private collection Ellen has never regretted her career change. “I’m definitely happy to work with horses,” she says. “The horses make me happy and I like the relationships you have with them. Photo © private collection.

 

Text © World of Showjumping

 


 

After long studies and five years working in accounts, Ellen Peters realised numbers were not for her and decided for a career change. Drawn towards horses, that she had spent her childhood with, Ellen moved from Ireland to England in 2015 and started working at a trading stable in the midlands while figuring out what she wanted to do. “My family and friends thought I was crazy, but I'd rather be happy than rich,” Ellen says with a smile. Fast-forward to 2020 and Ellen works as Shane Breen’s show groom, travelling the world with the Irish rider’s horses.

During her time in England, Ellen was offered a job for a rider that was more focused on show jumping at national level. “I worked there for 12 months,” Ellen says. “Then I decided that I hadn’t really travelled enough, and I wanted to see a bit more of the world. The horses were a good way to do that and at the same time I could work with something I enjoy.”

After four cold winter months in Germany, Ellen ended up in the Netherlands at Manuel ‘Fanfa’ Fernandez Saro’s stable. “I was grooming for Fanfa’s partner Deborah, and also did some shows with him in between when his show groom could not."

That’s when I decided that I really wanted to be a professional show groom.

However, at this time, Ellen’s mother unfortunately got sick so she had to return to Ireland. “Luckily my hometown is only 20 minutes from Greg Broderick’s stable and they gave me a call about freelancing. The intention was to do some freelancing there and also stay home with my mum, but I ended up being there full time for 8-9 months grooming for Kellie Allen.”

When her mother got better, Ellen returned to England and started to work for Tom Whitaker. “At that time Tom was only a year into working for Rebecca Stone. They mostly had younger horses to build up, so we weren’t doing that many big shows. As the bigger shows was what I wanted to do, I started to look around for something else after a year,” Ellen tells. “I got three job offers in Europe, but while I was thinking about which to choose Chloe Breen rang me and offered me a job at Breen Equestrian Ltd as Shane’s traveling groom. Even though I wasn’t too tempted to stay in England I wanted to work for a top rider and when that rider also was Irish it sounded amazing. So, I took the job for Shane and started in December 2018.”

Ellen has never regretted her career change. “I’m definitely happy to work with horses,” she says. “The horses make me happy and I like the relationships you have with them. I like when they trust me and want to be around me.”

Over the years, Ellen has seen several different systems and riding – and has been able to learn from all of them. “I really enjoyed working for Fanfa and I really enjoy working for Shane,” she says. 

The thing I really like about Fanfa and Shane is that they love their horses and want them to be happy. They believe that they get the best out of them when the horses enjoy their life.

At Shane’s stable there is a lot going on – he is breeding, producing and selling horses and as well as training other riders. “There are not two days the same here,” Ellen says. “We really need to work together as a big team, it’s not just Shane and me. We have 43 horses in work at the moment, and that does not include the kids’ ponies. Shane has three horses that are just his, however he can pull out about 20 other horses and take them to a show tomorrow. The stable jockeys get to take them to 2-3* shows and then Shane can pull them back when needed.”

Photo © World of Showjumping "Ipswich has such a nice character and is such a nice horse. He really loves the job and loves to travel. For me he is very special, and he is my baby, my one,” Ellen says. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

When talking about her favourite horses, Ellen’s voice gets softer. “Z7 Ipswich – I love him. He is the one horse I had with me on more or less every show last year. He is complicated, but when you start to get to know him you figure out what upsets him and what doesn’t. Ipswich is a spooky horse and he likes routines, so I always try to do the same before every class with him to get him to relax. Ipswich has such a nice character and is such a nice horse. He really loves the job and loves to travel. For me he is very special, and he is my baby, my one,” Ellen says.

Even though Ipswich has a special place in her heart, Ellen thinks all the horses have something unique about them. “Colmar is the sweetest stallion ever. We spent a lot of time together last year and he is definitely one for the future. Then we have Z7 Can Ya Makan, who I only had with me a handful of times last year. He is another horse with huge personality and character. A horse you just like to be around – he is so funny. And he thinks he is the boss. Not to forget we also have Golden Hawk, that is a special one too. Shane adores him and he is just an amazing horse, you can take him anywhere. The horses are all so different and they are nearly talking to you, I can go through the whole yard and say something special about each of them,” Ellen says laughing.

I love to discover a new horse, to spend time with them and figure out their personality and what makes them tick.

“Most of them really want to jump and want to do the job. You just have to figure out which routine they prefer to make it the best experience for them and to make them enjoy it.”

While Ellen has been travelling a lot with Shane, it is debatable how much more she has actually seen of the world. “Well… I don’t like to be away from the horses when at shows," she laughs. “The horses are mostly travelling a long way, so I need to keep an eye on them to make sure they are ok. Our horses are also used to the weather in England, and as many of the five-star shows are often in hot locations, I always want to make sure they are drinking enough and are well hydrated. There are always things to watch out for, and I don’t want to disappear for 2-4 hours at a time to be a tourist.”

“At the Globals it might look to the outside world as if you are on holiday with only two horses, but it is still busy enough. Shane likes to ride really early, so as soon as you can get into the arena he comes to ride. So, if he is there at 5.30 I need to be there at least half an hour earlier. Then the horses need to get out of the stable a lot during the day. After finishing everything off after the last class it is usually close to eleven at night. Of course, I can have an hour here or half hour there and I have a chair that I love dearly and like to nap in,” Ellen smiles.

“I like to be around, and I really don’t mind it – and it has been amazing to see all these places I have travelled to. Before I started to work for Shane, I think I had been to three countries and last year I lost count. I would never have gone to all these countries if I didn’t do the job and if I didn’t work for the rider I do,” Ellen closes off.

 


 

Favourite show:

“Dublin! It is the biggest show we have in Ireland. When I was little, it was always my birthday present to go there so being in Dublin with Shane last year and having an amazing show – and to win the Grand Prix – was really special.

Dublin will always be my favourite show for all kinds of different reasons. Outside of that, I love Miami.”

Favourite moments:

“Apart from Dublin, it must be with Can Ya Makan in the Hamburg Derby. That was really incredible. He jumped the first clear after a bunch of horses with the big crowd cheering at every fence and he is a horse that really grows with the attention. It was like he was getting bigger for every fence and wanted to show off. I was watching and was just thinking ‘will it never end’ – and he was coming down one more line…. It felt like he was in there for an hour.

I know Nisse Lüneburg beat us in the jump-off, but it didn’t matter. I was so proud of Can Ya Makan – he jumped unbelievable and the atmosphere was unbelievable as well.

 


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