THE manager of a Somerset veterinary practice has returned from a dream experience in Tokyo, where she cared for the hooves of the horses that competed in the Olympic equestrian disciplines.  

Emma Cornish, practice manager at Isle Valley Vets in Chard, volunteered for three weeks at the Olympic Games and coordinated a team of 18 farriers as forge manager. 

She put in 19-hour shifts each day to care for the 250 horses that took part in the dressage, showjumping and eventing competitions. 

Emma liaised with riders, vets and team managers from all over the world to ensure that issues such as pulled shoes and loose nails were resolved. 

She said: "The key to running the forge successfully was encouraging everyone to work together as a team and making sure the farriers were in the right place at the right time.

"This is very similar to what I do at Isle Valley Vets, where I’m responsible for the everyday running of an equine clinic and two small animal practices and making sure our patients receive outstanding levels of care.

"No two days are the same, whether I’m looking after the wellbeing of my team, managing budgets, updating our social media or recruiting new vets and nurses."

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At the Olympics, she was also responsible for the wellbeing of the farriers by ensuring they took breaks and were well-hydrated while working in the heat of Japan's capital city. 

"The main difference to my day job was that in Tokyo I was working alongside farriers, riders and equestrian federations who spoke different languages, which made things that little bit more challenging," said Emma. 

"While it was a volunteer role, I had a lot of responsibility, as it takes a lifetime of work to get to the Olympics and the last thing a rider wants is for a lost horseshoe to spoil their chances." 

Tokyo was Emma's third Olympic experience after she volunteered at London 2012 and Rio 2016 - and she says she will apply again for Paris 2024. 

She said: "I was inspired to apply to be a Gamesmaker at London 2012 and was over the moon to be assigned the role of farriery manager for the Olympics and Paralympics.

"I formed a great working relationship with the lead farrier, Ben Benson, in London and it was a huge honour when he requested my help at Rio, then Tokyo.

"Every time I’ve volunteered has been the most incredible experience. Not only was I surrounded by a team of highly skilled farriers and the best horses and riders in the world, I had access to the stables and competition arenas, and the atmosphere was amazing.

"My most memorable moment of the Tokyo Games was Team GB winning the eventing team gold medal. Watching all the action from the ring-side is something I’ll never forget."