Information on the Volunteer Roles available at Horse Events with British Eventing
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Volunteer Roles Available at an Event

British Eventing Organisers at Greenwich Park - the Equestrian venue for the London 2012 Olympics

Volunteering at a BE event can take many shapes from being on the Organising Committee to co-ordinating the lorry park or litter control! Every volunteer counts and every job you do is vital and contributes no end to the sport and its enjoyment.

No event starts without the clearance of the BE Steward (who is a Volunteer as well!) who consults with all the Officials and the Organiser to make sure all is in place. Once the green light for the first horse is given, all the elements the Organiser and their team have worked so hard for fall into place and the competition begins. 


Most of the roles are briefly described below.


Fence Judge

This job is usually done in pairs and sometimes even in teams of three or four depending on the type of event, the fence and the level of competition. Typically a Fence Judge's day starts at approximately 8.30am with a briefing from the BE Technical Adviser and the BE Steward explaining the relevant rules, how to fill in the XC jumping faults report, the flags and stopping procedures and things to watch out for. Following the Fence Judges' briefing, and a cup of coffee or tea, you can expect to be at your fence from about 9.30 onwards. Don't worry if you haven't done it before, you can still help as the Organiser will most likely team you up with someone experienced. You can come along on your own or bring a friend. You will be provided with a packed lunch, and the day will finish anywhere between 4 and 6pm, depending on the time of year and the amount of competitors.

Being a Fence Judge is a great opportunity to see Eventing right up close, and spend the day in the countryside in some beautiful surroundings. BE especially encourages riders to offer their help at events. Popular benefits that some Organisers may offer are Cross Country schooling vouchers, or even a preferred entry at their next event.

BE organises training days for Fence Judges which usually happen outside of the season.  These training days will be published on the BE Training Course page, under the role of Volunteer.


Control & Commentating

Control is an important role.  He (or she) basically controls what happens on the XC course and is at all times in full communication with the Fence Judges, Start & Finish, the Emergency Services, the BE Steward and BE TA.  In case of an emergency, Control stops the course, deploys the emergency services and takes and communicates any actions needed together with the BE Steward and Organiser.  

Being a Controler requires a cool head with good communication skills and an indepth knowledge of the sport. If this sounds like you and you are interested in becoming a Controller, your first step it is to get in touch with your Regional Coodinator or the BE Sport Department.  Any training for this role will be published on the Controller Training page.

It is not unusual that the Controller also commentates on what is happening on the cross country course, so a clear and confident voice is usefull as well as the ability to see the funny side of things!  The Commentator sits in the Control box, alongside the controller and 2 or 3 other volunteers who do provisional scores and assist keeping track who's on course (the plotter) 

Larger and international events will have several controllers and commentators available as the long day require lots of concentration.  To be able to have a break is then very welcome. 



There are usually up to six members in a Start and Finish team, a Chief Time Keeper, a Start Time Keeper, a Finish Time Keeper, a Recorder and one or more Collecting Ring Stewards. The Chief Time Keeper, or Starter, has a start clock to count the competitor down and set them on there way. There is communication via radio between this team and the Controller (and Commentator) as to who is the next starter is and who has finished on a provisional time and score. This way Control can keep track of who has started and who has finished. 


Event/Entries Secretary

You could say the event starts when entries open! The Entries Secretary manages the entries as they come in and works closely with the Organiser to manage them. If after entries have closed there are too many applications to have a run, the Entries Secretary, together with the Organiser, ballots the entries according to the BE Rules.

A few days before the start of the event the Entries Secretary sends all the entries to the Chief Scorer who then does the sectioning and times and posts them on the website, or gives them back to the Secretary, who answers the competitor's phonecalls who ring for times.
During the event the Secretary can be found in the Secretary's tent liaising with competitors as they pick up their numbers and pay their start fees. Competitors rely on the Entries Secretary's efficiency, as he or she is also the customer services department for the event, dealing with the many queries that competitors and their connections may have. If you have any query whether as a volunteer, visitor or competitor, you start by asking the Secretaries. They will know who to contact and how you can be helped.  The secretary is not by him/her self and usually there are two or three more helpers in the tent to assist as at times it can get very busy.

The role of the Event Secretary is often a person who is part of the Organising Committee although events run by Equestrian Centres or by professional organisations ask their own staff take on the role. The role of Secretary is an important one and often the same person carries out the role for a number of years, so these positions do not come up very often. 


Dressage Stewarding

This job is important as the Dressage starts the day off and so can affect the rest of the day if not started on time. The Dressage Steward generally keeps the order running to the scheduled times although there are moments when some flexibility is needed. Communicating with the Dressage Judges to accommodate any changes is required.  Dressage judges put in a long day to communicating well with them as well as all the nervous competitors is desired.  Depending on how many Dressage rings are set up there will be two or three of you, keeping order in what may seem like organised chaos!


Dressage Writing 

The Writer sits with the Dressage Judge in the car and writes down the comments and marks as the judge gives them. A plea from the riders will be for some legible writing! A basic understanding of riding and Dressage is essential, as terms will be used that a non-horsey person may not understand! A Dressage Judge will only judge one section in a class and at the lower levels there is usually no more then 42 competitors in a section, but this can still take most of a day to finish. Dressage Writers tend to be people who really enjoy Dressage, and in return you will learn an awful lot from the Judge's viewpoint.


Show Jump Collection Arena Stewarding

The Stewarding role is similar to the Dressage Steward but sometimes the running order can change. Most Stewards keep a blackboard where competitors can put their number down, so they run in order. There can be two or even three people to help manage this arena and keep things running smoothly. Breaks are scheduled in for course walking for the competitors and changes to the course when classes change.


Main Arena Party Maintenance 

Here you help set up and maintain the Show Jumping Arena during the competition. You take your instructions from the Course Builder and the Show Jump Judge. It may not be the most glamorous job at an event, but it is an important one! As there is usually only one or two Show Jumping rings running, all competitors have to go through the SJ ring before they go to the cross country, and so a smooth running of the SJ arena is very important. You will be close to the action, the trade-stands and Secretaries.


Score Collector

Scores do not only get collected from the cross country Fence Judges but also from the Dressage and Show Jumping Judges and Stewards. For the cross country phase, the Organiser asks people with two or four wheel motorbikes, but it can also be young people from the local Pony Club or Hunt on their own horse or pony. Score collecting from dressage and show jumping tends to be on foot, or perhaps push bike - consider it as a way of keeping fit! It's a fun role because Volunteers get to see many parts of the competition and meet lots of like minded other people who help run an event.


Scoring Team

The Scorers collate all the scores, which can be up to four or five people with calculators in a quiet location, who then provide the information to the Chief Scorer who puts it into the computer for the final results. A Scoreboard Writer then puts up all the results for everybody to see. All results from an event still need final validation by BE HQ before the results are final. Competitors must lodge any objections on the day with the BE Steward.

Additional roles

Other roles depend on what the Organiser needs doing, such as Car Parking Steward, XC Sector Stewarding, lunch preparations and deliveries to the entire site or even just general handy person and gopher! All perform vital roles to help make an event run.

These are most of the roles explained that are necessary to run an Event.  Depending on how the Organiser runs the event, other roles such as Hospitality and Sponsorship, PR are available.  Organisers try very much to keep the roles interesting and rewarding by swapping people around and providing breaks, but this is of course entirely dependent on how many volunteers they manage to recruit.

The BE officials you hear mention of are the BE Steward, BE Technical Adviser and BE Scorer.  

The best way to get involved is to contact an event near you and offer your help. Usually Fence Judges and Collecting Ring Stewards are the roles Organisers' seek to fill the most.

Contact details are on the fixtures and results page of this website, just click on the event name in the Event Calendar. Don't be shy, all Organiser's will welcome your call!

We hope you enjoy your Volunteer experiences. It is a great way to enjoy the countryside and get some fresh air and meet like-minded new friends and see Eventing from a new angle. You should expect a friendly welcome, drinks and refreshments, lunch and snacks during the day and hopefully an enjoyable experience seeing our great sport.