Day two: a fence judge’s view

Another 8a.m. start but despite the autumn chill in the air, about 80 volunteer Fence Judges arrived at the Fidelity Hospitality Marquee to be issued again with the usual stop watches, flags, scorebooks, whistles, etc. As always, this amazing team chatted and swapped stories which all begin “I remember when I was a Fence Judge at ………..” and they always end with everyone in fits of laughter!   Unfortunately, none of these stories can be repeated here!


Refreshed by a cup of really good coffee and another (calorie free) Danish pastry we all set off to find our fences.   For a bit of variety Jennie Smith had allocated different fences to us from yesterday to keep us on our toes!


Zara Phillips on Silver Lining jumping our fence!

Although slightly colder today, it stayed dry for the two hours of Cross Country Competition that lay ahead of us all. Our smart red Chudleys Dog bowls filled with fresh water we were ready for anything the world’s top riders could send our way.



Steph with Neil and Sarah Barr

In fact the whole day seemed to go without a hitch.   Today we had been placed at the Fidelity Wealth Management Fence along with fellow judges Neil and Sarah Barr. This fence had been quite influential yesterday but, much to the relief of Neil, and probably the competitors as well, there were no problems here today at all.   Every horse carried their rider over the step up and rail without incident.   No penalties, no run-outs, no excitement but plenty time to watch your favourite riders making it all look so easy!


An unusually early finish meant that another wander round the trade village could not be avoided.   A welcome glass of wine from Copella, Di and Malcolm at the Barnsby Saddlery stand even put us in enough of a good mood to start some Christmas shopping!


Also, at every event a visit to the Food Marquee is compulsory it seems.   So after 20 minutes in there we emerged with a huge tub of olives and a rather pretty little dish sort-of-thing that purees garlic.   The olives were lovely but I don’t suppose I’ll ever use the garlic thing.    It also purees ginger – wow!   But, as I said, it is very pretty.


So Blenheim is over and we’re now safely home and, with a glass of Hendricks Gin and tonic in hand (have you ever tried it with sliced cucumber?), there is time to reflect on our weekend.


The winner, William Fox-Pitt on Oslo

Definitely a very enjoyable weekend of good sport with new friends and all very well organised by Jennie and her loyal team. Blenheim may be over but the season isn’t. There are still many events left this year and most of Blenheim’s huge army of volunteers will be out again very soon at another event.   Volunteers are a vital part of Eventing and there is always room for more helpers. If being a Fence Judge is “not your thing” then why not tackle another of the dozens of jobs available?


Personally, I think that there is a very good chance you might even enjoy it!


Steph and Mike

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