So, Faith Ponsonby and I offered our services to the BHS as volunteers on their various stands and what fun we had. We started in the Carlton Hotel near Dublin Airport as with a very early flight to Bristol Thursday morning, the decision was made that driving up to the airport in the early hours of the morning, 3am, was not an option if we were to be fresh and on top form. The Carlton did us proud but unfortunately it did set the bar rather high for our B&B in Chippenham!! We collected a tiny Fiat, promptly named Cherry and set off. Due to some flaws in our navigational skills we saw a great deal of Bristol!! However, we now know where the University is situated and the Cathedral.

The Princess Royal discusses the mechanical horse with Sam York FBHS. Photo credit Sally Newcomb

So, on arrival at Badminton we were in time for the BHS Debate, some very interesting points were debated and gave food for thought and talking about food the Lunch in a very smart tent for The Fellows & F&I Association was just fabulous. Beautifully served and very tasty it was a welcome meal as the B&B breakfast was not particularly appetising looking. After watching some dressage tests, we changed into glad rags as courtesy of Jenny Ham we were guests of hers at the Badminton cocktail party. OH WOW!! What fun, what a house & what wonderful paintings and garden. I did manage to scoop my jaw up off the ground on a regular basis especially as we bumped into Mr BHS Himself, David, and the Lovely Sam York – in a frightfully posh frock. We ended the day with a most delectable meal in a friend of Jenny’s horsebox.

The Princess Royal with BHS Chairman David Sheerin. Photo credit Sally Newcomb

Friday dawns, getting hotter, and this is ‘our’ day for shopping catching up with people and again watching dressage but first a F&I Committee meeting. Then a slight deviation as we walked the course with Nick Turner on the F&I Course Walk so ably organised by our Vice Chair Ann Bostock. Well now I say course walk with some reservations as to my little collected walk Nick is on a huge extended walk needing me to frequently break into trot. There is an ‘in depth’ report on this on its way. We were able to present to the BHS, as Charity of Badminton, £300+, not bad ladies & gentlemen thank you and my thanks to Nick.

Saturday, and we are to work on the stand with the mechanical horse. YES! That’s it no more mucking out, grooming, shoeing bills I’m sold on Henry. We had such fun helping people to improve their balance, for some a first time sit on a ‘horse’ and for others the chance to practise the flying changes under Faith’s tutelage. Having walked the course, the previous day we decided to watch some of the riders on the big screen and then we made our way to the Lake found ourselves an extremely good spot and drank in the atmosphere and excitement. No, I did not imbibe in the alcohol as I was in charge of Cherry. We saw Mark Todd, Oli Townend and others tackle the fences in and out of the Lake, including the one horse who having deposited his rider decided to ‘lock’ on to the picket fence and so nearly jump into the private enclosure, being turned by a nimble jump steward just before take-off. A frightening experience but also interesting as I was taken back to the BHS Convention when both Chris Bartle & Sam York were talking about watching the horse as he ‘locks’ on to his fence.

Sunday, last day, and again we were helping in BHS tents, Faith back with the mechanical horse and me making teas & coffees!!!. We had to leave at 1pm so when we had seen the course jumped once we were happy.

Well done BHS. We were proud to be part of your Charity fund raising at Badminton Horse Trials. Brilliant advertising from when we first drove on to the field, along with all the various stands, coffee places and the new travelling classroom. So many hard-working people from all the BHS departments as well as other keen volunteers.
Jillie Rogers BHSI Fellows & Instructors Association Chair.