Sunday 7 March 2010

February Diary

A typically contrasting month of British weather, with snow and ice everywhere at the start and near spring sunshine at the end! The ground as we start March has dried up well, so portable fences were taken out of the yards and positioned near to their final locations without any damage being done.
The cross country track will soon start getting detailed attention as the time for fertiliser, vertidraining and mowing approaches, but in February the plan is simply to protect it against overgrazing by the sheep and have it well marked in the Deer Park so that no one drives or rides on it!
The last week in February saw a plethora of meetings – all routine but unusually packed into a few days. First our Traffic Meeting, when all the agencies and contractors get to know each other again, the current year’s passes are explained and a few modifications made to the traffic plan. Then the Vets Meeting – a short session on the new FEI Veterinary Regulations, which come into force in April; and then a fascinating day lead by Jim Green from Hampshire Fire and Rescue who gave us a presentation on rescuing horses safely when they are stuck in ditches, rivers, peat bogs or cattle grids; and then showed us all his (not very high tech) kit which enables horses to be turned over, moved etc in safety. His strong messages – saving horses must not imperil human safety while, as so often, calm professionalism is needed from the rescuers. Unfortunately our usual website photographer Tim Nicholls who lives in Badminton village had a nasty bout of gastric flu while the event director had left his camera at home!
Finally that week the Medical get together – a reminder when taken with the other meetings of how lucky we are to have the voluntary support of such exceptionally well qualified and motivated professionals. A quiet year in 2009 is no reason not to prepare thoroughly for 2010 and one small change welcomed was the move of the helicopter landing site away from the horse’s route to the Start!
The Tented Village is now fully planned on paper and Site Manager Harry Verney has started ‘pegging out’. Hundreds of pegs mark the corners of every tent, accurate to less than a foot (or 30 cm) and the different colours are understood (we hope!) by the tentage contractors, electrical contractors, plumber, telephone engineer and all the others who need to know. Danco our tentage supplier will start on site in the middle of March, about the same time as Arena Seating will commence work on the Grandstands.
Rather to the Event Director’s discomfort, we launched our presence on Facebook and Twitter – he may eventually get used to it and no longer has the excuse that his iphone reception is not good enough – a switch to Vodafone and a SureSignal booster in the office means he is no longer out of touch!
With his hat on as Course Designer, he attended an excellent seminar run by British Eventing to discuss modern trends in course design, the use of safety features such as the pins, risk management on the cross country and where course design should head. Partly as a result and also because of international discussions, we may expect to see a return to some at least of the features of fences from the past – for example true upright gates or rails & ‘open’ corners – features that made a rider take care with his line and speed. There is a consensus that some course building features introduced in the name of safety in recent years have actually made the sport more dangerous as, from Grassroots to International level, we have let riders ‘get away with’ bad riding. Naturally we must continue the attempt to reduce the number of falls, especially rotational horse falls and this is where Badminton will try to marry the old, eg vertical rails, with the new, eg frangible pins.

A big task at the very end of the month was to do the jigsaw that is the deployment of Fence Judges and Stewards. The late John Hills was the master of this, so this year his successor Sam Trounson spent 2 hours with the Director and Assistant Director trying to ensure that no one judges the same fence as in recent years, that the team of judges and stewards at a fence are compatible, that all the crossing points will have enough personnel, that radio operators and fence scorers are allocated to the right spot. Here again, it brings it home how dependent we are on expert volunteers!

Now there is much to look forward to as we really count down to the event which starts in just under 8 weeks time. Entries close on 12th March, the Technical Delegates visit on 17th, course building resumes in earnest and the tents will start to arise – roll on April!

1 comment:

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