Volunteering – free education! 

This weekend saw us spend most of our time at Offchurch, Bury for the BE event. On Saturday we offered our services as fence judges so that was an early start arriving at 7.45am where I proceeded to fill my face with pastries and coffee! After a debrief we headed off to our fence which was a skinny corner combination! Great, one of those is bad enough let alone all three. After finding an ideal place to be able to see the fences at the correct angle we settle down ready to start. 

It’s actually a great learning opportunity especially at fences like these and you get a great insight into how to ride difficult lines and the outcome of them. It was very obvious who were the pro’s as they balanced and steadied their horses and stuck to a definite line from a-c whereas those that weren’t perhaps as seasoned, didn’t really change the pace of their horses and then came unstuck by the second part and gained faults.

We did cause a little bit of conflict when there was a clear run out where the horse jumped up and out to the side taking out the flag with its feet not even going over the jump so there was no way it’s shoulders etc passed through the flags. We called it through but then next fence judge claimed they did pass through and we weren’t in a position to see it and they were!! Anywho long story short the head guy came up to speak to us and ask how sure we were (200% sure!) and did let us know that another rider who is well known in top circles, had also confirmed our decision as he was stood right next to the fence and had said there was no way it jumped it! It was slightly relieving to know that someone else agreed with us! 

As the day progressed, I continued to eat my way through a small mini mart and wondered why I had a stomach pain by 5pm! By late afternoon we were finally onto the 90’s but I figured we were going to be finishing too late to ride the horses when we got back so the husband was going to be doing his dressage test on Sunday with no practice time!! 

What was pretty shocking, especially during the 90’s, was how many took the wrong course and completely missed out a fence, cutting through onto the 80 route and jumping out fence. Some even took the most bizarre line to get to the 90 jump, literally jumping at the most acute angle ever seen! I mean, we’ve all taken the wrong course at times but I don’t honestly know how you would go wrong here if you had walked the course and if you did go wrong, how you wouldn’t realise when coming through and not seeing a clear line to the 90! Some did realise and doubled back but still!! Another lesson learnt- always walk the course!! 

Another insight was knowing how the course was running- what fences were causing trouble and what the time was like, so husband had a clear game plan for the following day into time intervals around the course and where to really keep the leg on, not that Chino ever really looks at anything. 

The day finished at half 7- nearly 12 hours from when we arrived but I’d had the pleasure yet again of seeing Oliver Townend (turning into a proper little fan!!) and Bill Levett ride around on about a dozen horses each!! 

We arrived home by half 8 knowing we would be back at the Bury in less than 12 hours so alarms set early (half 4!) and a good nights sleep ready for the next day of competition! 

Next blog page: Competition Day! 

For now, 

Toodle Pip 😘


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