As the 2015 eventing season draws ever closer everyone involved in the sport is busy getting ready for their first event.
Among those honing their skills are the volunteer cross country (XC) fence judges. Each year British Eventing holds a series of fence judge training days aimed at qualifying new fence judges and bringing experienced fence judges up to date on the latest rules and regulations.
Each training session is led by an official from BE and the session that I attended, at the Berkshire College of Agriculture, was taken by none other than Adrian Ditcham.
Adrian is the BE Regional Co-ordinator for the south east, as well as being a technical advisor and top level XC course designer and builder.
A training course begins with a two hour theory/classroom session during which time all of the XC rules are reviewed with special emphasis on any that have been changed or been clarified since last season. Questions regarding the details are put to the course leader and are expertly answered, often with examples being contributed by the more experienced fence judges as they recount events from last season’s competitions.
Following lunch there is either an outdoor practice session and a course walk or a review of competition video clips during which the rules are reviewed again and in greater detail and with practical examples so that everyone is clear on all the finer points. As the training course draws to a close the fence judges are clearly eager and ready to get out there for their first event of the season.
Just like the riders, they too can’t wait for the season to get underway again. So, the next time you are out walking a cross country course take a moment to notice the highly dedicated fence judges and thank them for all of their volunteer time and effort. Also, don’t be afraid to ask them questions.
Most, if not all, will be more than happy to help and give you the benefit of their years of experience.