This week the volunteer journey motored onto Hartpury College for their annual Horse Trials. I had never been before, either as fence judge or spectator, so was buzzing with excitement as I headed down the M5 – my new weekend residence!
Wow, what a gorgeous location, set in the beautiful Gloucestershire countryside, the FJ briefing was held in the college’s main building, a gorgeous Georgian house, which I presumed was the Estate house in its former life.
We were greeted with a very warm welcome, fed and watered after the long drive and into one of the college’s lecture theatre’s for a short Dave Thompson special – shame, the prompt start this week cut short his comedy routine.
This week, we had been partnered with the lovely Mr & Mrs Asprey, so the cheery foursome trotted off to fence 19 for the CCI1* class, an inviting sheep feeder out in the woods. Such an inviting fence it caused no drama all morning. But drama was on its way, as we moved to our fence for the NAF 3 star class – a tricky log drop to two angled rails, on a particularly nasty line. Oh and just positioned half a foot from a vehicle & pedestrian crossing.
A special mention must go to the lovely Hartpury staff, who came and manned our crossing – they were cheery, friendly, super at crowd and vehicle control and the crossing caused no bother nor drama all day thanks to their due diligence. Thanks ladies
The two off set rails however caused us some paperwork. We had a text book demonstration of why mims clips are a fantastic safety device, preventing what would have undoubtedly been a nasty rotational (horse and rider continued as one onto the next fence) and then the very next combination parted company at the 20b the first rail, and took the long walk home, thankfully non the worse for their visit to our fence. There was just enough time in between horses to debate which eyelash of Cooley Rorkes Drift we all each now owned.
Plenty of video footage, social media for fence sponsors and TWO blueberry muffins, and then it was time to head homeward. Volunteers are often welcomed warmly, but Hartpury have really got their finger on the pulse. A warm welcome, abundant catering, a goody bag and we even met the College Principal as he walked the course, speaking to all volunteers. I shall definitely be angling for an invite back next year.
Now off to pack up the kit, find Monteberry’s passport and print the boarding cards, as I am off to Poland this weekend – Eek I’m so excited to be a very very small part of FEI European Championships, good luck to Team GBR, cant wait to cheer you on in person. Volunteering really does take you anywhere and everywhere….