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Show Trunk Secrets – with Lisa Parkko

Thursday, 04 February 2016
Show Trunk Secrets

Team van der Vleuten: Lisa, VDL Groep Verdi TN N.O.P. and Maikel. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
Team van der Vleuten: Lisa, VDL Groep Verdi TN N.O.P. and Maikel. Photos (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

Maikel van der Vleuten’s show groom Lisa Parkko has played a huge part in the Dutch rider’s success over the last years. Here, Lisa lets us in on her secrets to keeping Maikel’s horses in perfect show condition. 

At home…

“It all starts at home. To be successful, you need a very good team and good people at home who take care of the horses between the shows. We are very lucky with that, as we have Maikel’s old show groom Kelly working at home. The horses always looking stunning, and ready for me to take to the next show. 

Also, I find it very important to make sure all our horses get to go in the field at home between the shows (of course this can sometimes be difficult, especially in the winter) – this helps the horses relax and do what they want to do.”


Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
Make sure there is enough fresh air in the truck for the horses to travel well.

“Making the horses travel comfortably, I would say it's all about fresh air!

Luckily for me, all my horses are very good travelers.

I like to put the partitions on a bit of an angle in the truck so the long horses, like Verdi and Arera, don't have their faces pushed against the window.

Also, I only feed hay in the truck when it's a long way to travel and the horses should get something in their stomachs. If I feel like the horses are getting bored of standing there, I find that they normally get quiet again when they get to eat hay for a while so that is another occasion where I perhaps would give them a bit to chew on.

For the long trips, and especially for flying, we give the horses Gastroguard to keep their stomachs working with the un-regular feeding times and stressful situations that can be involved.”                       


“We just lately got all new tack from CWD, and are very happy with that. They have good quality on all their products, and well fitting saddles – which is the most important.

For boots we use Zandona, which is our sponsor. Their products are super; the boots fit well and last for a long time.

For the tack, l always clean with water first and then Stubben saddle soap – that does the trick and makes the tack clean but not greasy.”

Ring refinement...

Perfect plaits on Verdi. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
Perfect plaits on Verdi, although Lisa also thinks the mane loose on one side and straight looks beautiful.

“Well, I have to admit that I'm not a big plaiter. For the big and important classes l try to get the horses plaited, but I think if the mane is on one side and straight it also looks beautiful.

Cleaning the horses, I like to give them a wipe with Detol as it makes the horses clean and shiny and it's also antiseptic. Then of course a good brush before I put the clean tack on, and we are ready to go.

I try to avoid washing the whole horse at the shows, and if I do wash it is mostly just by the girth and between the back legs as well as the legs.

One thing l always have with me is baby powder! When you have to jump in all different kind of conditions – hot, wet, sticky sand – this will help to avoid any kind of irritation in the skin of the legs. So, I wash the legs, dry them really good and put some baby powder on.”


“Our horses get Pavo feed. I find that not much more supplements are needed when you have a good feed with high quality. In addition, we give all horses mash and oil for the evening. Mash helps the digestion, and also makes the coats shiny and less dry.”

And finally...

Lisa's tip: "You can always learn a lot of useful things from the other grooms!" Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
Lisa's tip: "You can always learn a lot of useful things from the other grooms!"

“One good tip for everybody is to watch what other people are doing, and how they are doing it. You can always learn a lot of useful things from the other grooms!” 


As told to World of Showjumping by Lisa Parkko // Pictures © Jenny Abrahamsson

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