Graeme Thom officially resigned as chair of the Canadian Eventing High Performance Committee and chef d’equipe of the Canadian Eventing Team on June 22. Canadian Eventing released a statement regarding his departure July 8.
“Graeme has been a considerable influence in the philosophy, direction and the organization of our high performance program, and he has managed the Canadian Eventing Team for five major championships over the past nine years,” said the chair of the Canadian Eventing Committee, Peter Gray, in Canadian Eventing’s statement. “His attention to detail, foresight, expertise in budgets and logistics for team training will make him very difficult to replace.”
Gray will be acting as interim chair of the High Performance Committee, while Jacky Green will take over chef d’equipe duties. Former head groom for Karen and David O’Connor, Max Corcoran, will be the team’s stable manager.
Thom has offered to work closely with Gray to ensure a smooth transition.
“Graeme has been the most influential chair of High Performance and chef d’équipe that the Canadian Eventing Team has, without doubt, ever had,” said Gray.
Thom, who worked between 700 and 1,000 hours a year in the volunteer position, declined to comment on his reason for leaving. He’s unsure what he’ll do next.
“Right now I’m packing team trunks to get the group ready to go and working with the federation office on logistics with Jacky Green,” he said.
Thom, 53, Ontario, noted how proud he was to have been a part of five championships during his tenure, including a team silver medal at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (Ky.).
“From 2007 until now, I think it’s the best record the team’s ever had in an equivalent period over history, so that’s been good,” he said. “The whole philosophy of our riders buying in to being a real team, and everybody working together and getting along fabulously was probably the best thing. I think there was a lot of respect for what I did, and I had an absolute ton of respect for our riders and the support team and of course a great appreciation for the owners and sponsors.”
Thom’s departure comes less than two months before the start of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (France), but Green feels confident she can handle her last minute call-up.
Team Canada has stayed at Maizey Manor Farm in Marlborough, England, where Green is based, before championships for several years. As a result, Green said she knows Thom and the riders well.
“Graeme gave me a call when he made his decision to resign and just said it was a bit short notice, but would I be interested in taking on the position,” she explained. “Obviously it’s a great honor to be asked. I think that Graeme has left such a fabulous legacy, and he’s been so helpful in the handover that I’m really very lucky. He’s the one that’s done all the legwork, all the research, made all the plans, and I just get to step into his shoes and do the very last bit of the job, which he’s done brilliantly up until now. I’ve actually got the easy bit.”
Green, a former eventer and dressage rider, has groomed, ridden and worked behind the scenes at some of the world’s biggest events.
“I’ve been to enough three-days; I know enough people; I know how the system works,” she said. “I think you just do your best and make sure you remember that you’re just a cog in a very big wheel, and your job is to help the riders and be efficient.”
She’ll help Team Canada and their coach, Clayton Fredericks, with “being organized and practical [and] ensuring everyone knows where they need to be at the right times—taking the pressure off the riders so they can concentrate on the riding.”
The team horses will arrive at Maizey Manor around Aug. 14 to stay until the competition begins on Aug. 27.
Green said at the moment the position is temporary. “It’s something I’ve been asked to do for this World Equestrian Games, and that’s why I took the role on,” she said. “I’d imagine they’d be looking to take someone on long-term that’s based in the United States or Canada.
“It was a privilege to be asked to step into a role like that,” she continued. “I think if I can do half as good a job as Graeme would have done at these Games, then we’ll be doing OK.”