Volunteering for British Eventing

In celebration of Volunteers Week, I wanted to share some of the reasons why I love volunteering for British Eventing (BE) & invite a few of my fellow volunteers to share their reasons too.

First Memories of Volunteering for BE

I remember helping volunteer at Aldon horse trials for British Eventing a few years ago as a dressage steward, & one of my memories was top eventer Harry Meade being super polite as we re-jiggled his start time due to a shoe issue. I also had the chance to help in XC Control, which was an amazing experience to see everything happening behind the scenes & have the best view of the XC course.

Volunteering in XC Control

XC Control ready at Bovinton British Eventing
XC Control ready at Bovington British Eventing wearing my trusty HiHo Silver bumble bee necklace

It wasn’t until autumn 2018 when recovering from my broken arm & op that I decided to get back in touch with Simon Greenwood, one of the BE Controller/Commentator mentors to find out if I could get involved again & help give back to BE if I couldn’t compete.

Bovington BE in October was my first full day in the cock pit aka XC Control Box, where I helped out with filling out the slips, keeping on top of scores coming in from the XC, chatting to the lovely team down at the start keeping XC control in the loop on new starters & final times. I think it was then I got the bug & met a great bunch of fellow volunteers.

Since that day I’ve volunteered at Moreton, & Bovington both BE & unaffiliated horse trials & even had a few turns at commentating as well as other roles such as admin & fence checks, answering calls coming into control & helping keep the XC flow moving. I never thought it would be possible to have such an adrenalin rush from being behind the scenes at a BE comp rather than competing – but you definitely get a rush from juggling multiple tasks at once & managing to get competitors round a course safely.

Behind the Scenes in XC Control at Bovington British Eventing
Behind the Scenes in XC Control at Bovington British Eventing

My top reasons for volunteering for BE:

  • Everyone is super friendly
  • Meeting new people who all have the same passion for the sport
  • Giving back to the sport I love & have a greater understanding on what goes on behind the scenes
  • Learning a new skill – I’ve loved learning how to commentate & watch my fellow volunteers in action
  • Good for the soul – you leave with that feel-good factor after a day’s volunteering
  • See your idols & friends compete – yes, that’s me who takes snaps & then tag them on Instagram @becky_wren
  • Get fed & watered – the teams take great care of you
  • Freebies – & sometimes you might get a XC schooling voucher thrown in, which is always a bonus

Rosie Russell – Commentator & part of the team behind running Moreton BE

Rosie Russell Competing at Bicton British Eventing 2019
Rosie Russell Competing at Bicton British Eventing 2019 – photo by Malcolm Snelgrove

I volunteer to give back to the sport. As my family run Moreton BE, we know just how important volunteers are as without them the events wouldn’t run.

I believe more riders should try their hand at volunteering, as very few know exactly what goes on behind the scenes & it would be a valuable experience for them to understand what goes into running an event.

Volunteering is a lot of fun & in the control box where I volunteer you can get a real buzz from all the action.

Follow Rosie & Moreton Russell on Instagram: @rosi3.russ3ll @rosierussell_media @moretonrussell

Rob Taylor – Commentator

Rob in XC Control for British Eventing
Rob in XC Control for British Eventing

Combining my love of horses with an opportunity to talk about them all day as an equestrian commentator was an offer I couldn’t refuse when I started volunteering with British Eventing 3 years ago.

I commentate at some amazing venues & watch horse & rider compete XC at all levels from grassroots up to international level.

The highlight of my volunteering year is at the prestigious Ssangyong Blenheim Palace Horse Trials in September where I spend the week driving competitors, grooms & owners around the estate & fence judging one of the showpiece fences with Ben, my son, who volunteers through a scheme called YELA which promotes youth volunteering across equestrian sport.

The proudest moment must be watching my son assist with the final horse inspection at Blenheim 4* in 2017.

Things I won’t forget in a hurry – eliminating a former Olympian & knight of the realm for missing out a fence once at Barbury!

Follow Rob on Twitter @baxtalolad

Malcolm Hillyer – Volunteer for over 15 years

XC Control at Bovington British Eventing
XC Control at Bovington British Eventing

My first time getting involved in volunteering was after being pit crew to a Bermudan eventer all over Europe I thought it would be nice to give something back.

Over the last 15 years, I’ve fence judged at many events & thoroughly enjoyed it, & since my wife passed on I’ve now moved on to other things like control & starting & a certain amount of commentary.

When fence judging at least a small percentage of the competitors appreciate what you’re doing for their sake. They need us as much as we need them for our fun!

Starting is an art form as shown so well by the legendary Keith Watkins who starts many of the events in the south-west & I’m still learning & watching him closely.

Control is a complete eye-opener & I have nothing but admiration for all those who work in control & been lucky to work with a talented team who help make sure we don’t make too many mistakes.

Keith Watkins at the Start Box with Alexa Palmer at Moreton British Eventing
Keith Watkins at the Start Box with Alexa Palmer at Moreton British Eventing

For all the action from the BE XC starts follow @StartBoxSouthWest on Instagram.

How do I go about volunteering for BE?

  • Have a read of the volunteering page on BE
  • Interested in helping out commentating or being up in control – then have a look at the mentor page here

If you enjoyed this blog have a read of my blog post ‘British Eventing Volunteering – the other side’


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