THE BE VOLUNTEER – Snow, countdowns and sore heads 

With snowflakes falling outside the window, it is hard to imagine that we are just over a week away from the start of the eventing season. Sitting here by the fire with Monteberry, my Wilberry Wonderpony companion charting our BE Volunteer journey across the UK to take us up to end of October, sitting in a chilly field isn’t as far from my thoughts as you’d think.

The season is so close I can smell it, hopefully this season will bring its usual mix of thrills, not too many spills and plenty of fun. Lots of organisers have sent out their volunteer call-to-arms and I have dutifully replied. Plans afoot for some usual haunts, new adventures and a trip or two across borders. Last season did have Badders and Poland, so this season is going to have to pull something amazing out of the proverbial bag to top it but I’m always up for a challenge.

New equipment purchased, whistle found and thermals at the ready, I hope to catch with many familiar volunteer faces at our annual BE training course next weekend. 

For those wondering how all this works, how do I get involved – the BE website has details of all BE volunteer training courses running over new few weeks, and just drop your favoured event an email and they will be glad to add you to their volunteer army ranks for the season ahead, whether that’s one afternoon, or many days it’s really up to you. 

Ahead of Mr Buntine’s eagerly anticipated BE training course, I find myself brushing up on the 2018 rule changes so that I am ready and prepared when Stuart asks ‘Any questions?’. All changes and additions seem pretty self-explanatory this year, all good endeavours to improve safety and help us to enjoy the thrill of the sport more.

There is one rule that seems to have everyone a bit flustered on the social media channels this afternoon and that is strangely the rider elimination after a fall on course rule. 

Personally it’s simple to me, but then I have learnt the hard way that carrying on when concussed is really not that sensible a plan. FEI have had the rule since 2008. The earlier version that required every faller to get checked by the Doctor before continuing on course, whilst seemingly sensible, was going to be a logistical nightmare – multiple tumbles on XC (which happens more than us fence judges would like) would mean riders waiting an age for the doctor, with horse waiting impatiently or more Doctors. With the later option inevitably meaning higher entry fees to pay for this extra medical cover. 

Last season, we had a faller at our fence. She had what looked like a soft fall, and after inspection and a quick chat seemed perfectly ‘with it’ to continue. She legged herself up and we reported to control that all seemed well, she felt OK to continue and so off she went. Not long after we heard on the radio that she had got lost on course, and seemed confused. Fence judges aren’t doctors, whilst all may seem fine, nothing is a substitute for a proper check up and airing on the side of caution. Yes riders pay upwards of the best part of £100 to compete, elimination for a gentle tumble is going to be frustrating and most tumbles thankfully result in no harm to all parties but safety really must be paramount. I’d rather be out of pocket and live to fight another day. 

With rule update revision completed, it just leaves me to wish you all a very successful, safe and most of all fun-filled season, be that on horseback or relaxing in a comfy chair, cake aloft watching the world’s best sporting action fly by from your volunteering position. Get involved, I promise you will enjoy yourself. 

Onwards to Oasby, see you all there…