Meet Petplan Equine Ambassador and full-time veterinary surgeon Juliette Edmonds
Juliette Edmonds manages her three horses; Guess Again (Jess), Bubba Gump (Boodles) and newest edition Pandora, with working full time as a veterinary surgeon at Tyrrells Equine Vets. With a busy winter ahead, Juliette tells us what she has planned for her Irish Sports Horse x Warmblood, Boodles and how she balances work with caring for her horses.
Brought up in a non-horsey family, Juliette took up the reins aged ten and started riding at a local equestrian centre. Catching the bug early on, when she turned 12 she started working weekends at the stables in return for lessons, “Looking back,” begins Juliette, “those days spent at the yard are some of my favourite memories. I would be dropped off at 8:00am and I wouldn’t be picked up until late. During the summer holidays the yard would run competitions and we were allowed to take part. I took every opportunity to ride and it would often be on the horses that were misbehaving in the riding school. When I reached my teens, I was allowed to exercise some of the horses on livery for their owners and was later asked if I wanted to compete at a local showjumping competition which took place every Wednesday. I remember thinking I was a proper showjumper, jumping 80cm,” laughs Juliette.
During her gap year, Juliette began riding an ex-racehorse mare on a share basis – competing for the first time in British Showjumping and attending her first ever one-day event in 1998, which they won. “As a chestnut mare, she didn’t have any of the usual traits which came with her colouring,” jokes Juliette. “I started riding her two or three times a week and while I never had a problem with her, I know that the owner had a few issues as she was quite a nervous rider, so she would just misbehave a bit. I knew I always had to be confident around her and I have taken that mentality forward with my own horses. I don’t think I have ever won a one-day event since that fateful day,” reflects Juliette. It was the first time we had gone around a cross country course and I think my love for competing stemmed from there.”
After graduating, Juliette came across Jess, her first horse in 2006. The ‘wonder pony’ as she is sometimes referred to is a 14.3hh Cob-cross who Juliette first met as a ten-year-old. Jess was too sharp for the students at an agricultural college, so Juliette decided to buy the mare and bring her on. At their first competition – a 60cm clear round – they had several run-outs, but over the coming years they persevered and it became clear that Jess had a real talent for jumping. The pair first registered with British Eventing in 2010 and were 4th at their first BE90 that year and went on to compete in their first BE Novice in 2013. In 2017, Juliette affiliated Jess with British Showjumping.
” I retired Jess from competition last year, she is 23 now, but we ended on a high. Last spring we competed at Harpury College in the Blue Chip Championships at British Novice and Discovery level. It was our first stay away at a competition, I was so proud of how well she performed.”
Over the years Juliette has developed a great working relationship with her clients. “I am very lucky, I have a good group of friends, many of whom started as clients. While I am happy to answer any questions, they are very respectful and they do leave me to enjoy my horses over the weekends and days off, so while I am seen as the ‘go to’, a lot of my friends know to ask in working hours,” explains Juliette.
” I have had some unusual questions during my career and the most common ones always revolve around spiritual and crystal healing.”
“The internet is also always a bit of a battle,” continues Juliette. “While I think it is a great tool to develop the owner’s knowledge and understanding, it has led to a lot more worried and anxious clients. A lot of people head to the internet before they have sought advice from a vet and therefore diagnose their horse prior to consultation,” adds Juliette. “With various treatments, I think owners have to bear in mind that people hardly ever write reviews or blogs if something has performed well, so a lot of the time the comments will be negative. I always advise consulting your vet before checking online. If you have looked beforehand, talk to your vet, gain their opinion and look at all the options available.”
When Juliette acquired 15.3hh Irish Sports Horse x Warmblood, Boodles in 2013 as a project horse from a client, he had a few behavioural issues. After some time living out, Boodles has improved in his attitude towards work. “We finished our eventing season with a run at Oasby Horse Trials at the end of October. We had our best dressage score of the summer and a clear cross country, but over winter we will be focusing our attention on showjumping as he can put in a stop or rattle a few poles. He has just finished his winter holiday and my plan now is to do a month of hacking before starting our lessons again with Nick Turner and focus our efforts on jumping at Discovery level.”
Balancing both her horses and working full time can be tricky for Juliette but she admits having great clients makes her job worthwhile. “You have to have a good relationship with your clients, they have to trust you, because at the end of the day you are dealing with their pride and joy. I would advise anyone who is looking to have a career as a vet to have good communication with their clients. You also have to have good horsemanship or at least a basic understanding. If an owner sees that you are nervous around horses, they will become wary of you.”
Juliette comments it can also be hard to unwind. “Working and socialising within the equine industry, it can be hard to switch off. I try and read books that are completely different and watch programmes that aren’t vet related. I also try and get away for a spa trip once or twice a year and I try to go away skiing when I can.”
At the end of 2018, Juliette added to her string of horses and bought Pandora (Bazaars Que Sera). “Pandora has some amazing bloodlines; her great grandad is Cruising and she is by Bazaars Exclusive. Her dam was by Touchdown who was the highest placed Irish show jumper at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Now, just over 18 months old, she is a bold and friendly filly and I am excited to see what we get up to together.” Pandora is currently living in a small herd of youngsters at a local stud and Juliette tries to see her two or three times a week.
“I am lucky that my horses are fairly low maintenance. I am doing a lot of riding after work with Boodles at the moment, which means we have become quite adept to working with a head torch on. I hope to start his eventing season in April next year and in the build up to this, he will be having a session on a water treadmill once a week between now and Christmas, to help him with his strength. It is hard to fit everything in, but I enjoy what I do. I am not sure if I can be seen as motivational or just a bit mad,” concludes Juliette.
Quick Fire Questions
What is your favourite equestrian event and why?
I really enjoy Badminton Horse Trials. My friends and I take the lorry and we go for the duration. It’s normally a weekend filled with horses, good fun and a bit of Champagne or Pimms. This year I thought it would be a good idea to buy a jump. So, in about 26 degrees, my friend and I carried a triple bar fence through the crowds one mile back to the lorry. My friend started to wilt halfway so I had to drive the lorry to meet her. We must have looked mad.
If there was one thing you could change about your job what would it be and why?
I am sure this is quite standard for many vets, but I wish we didn’t have to be on call. While we see some of the most interesting cases when working out of hours, I really struggle with the sleep deprivation when working full 12-hour days either side.
What is your best tip or words of advice when dealing with a horse that runs out at a fence when showjumping?
Normally if a horse is running out, it is because it isn’t straight, or the groundwork isn’t there. My advice would be to have a really good grasp of groundwork and make sure you are riding him in a straight line. When jumping, put a pole either side of your jump to help guide the horse in. It is always useful to do gridwork with any horse but especially those that run out. I would also suggest investigating whether there is a reason as to why your horse is doing this, such as lameness or other issues that may be causing him pain.
Want to find out more about Petplan Equine Ambassadors? Then visit https://www.petplanequine.co.uk/ambassadors/
For more information on equine and rider insurance, visit www.petplanequine.co.uk