The volunteer roles at Blenheim International Horse Trials are “many and varied,” says Nikki Jackson, who has been looking after the horse trials volunteers for the last eight years. Over the course of five days, around 600 volunteers muck in and ensure the smooth running of the three-star event.

“We try to get as much information out to volunteers beforehand so they feel engaged before the event, and everyone who takes part says it feels like one big family reunion.”

If you’re thinking about volunteering at Blenheim, but you’re worried about the sheer scale of the event, you needn’t be concerned confirms Nikki. “We never put a volunteer out to do a job on their own. Wherever possible they work alongside an experienced volunteer and they are supported throughout the event by our core team.”

Fence judge

“Fence judging is a vital role at Blenheim,” says Nikki. “Because we are an FEI event, we need experienced personnel. The one thing we need here is consistency – yes that was definitely a refusal, or yes, the horse’s shoulders were outside the flag. These sorts of decisions have to be made instantly, which is why it isn’t a job for an inexperienced fence judge.”

What sort of prior experience is required?

There are multiple roles available at horse trials up and down the country for BE volunteers to cut their teeth at fence judging at the lower levels. Register with BE as a volunteer, which is free to do and sign up for their fence judge training.

Crossing points steward

So much more than just holding a piece of string, crossing point stewards are “exceptionally important” to the event from a health and safety point of view because they keep the course clear and the public safe. From the event’s point of view, they also act as a PR agent for the event as they’re out on the course, answering questions from the public.

What sort of prior experience is required?

“Just willingness,” says Nikki. “And you need to be alert and aware — mindful of what’s happening on course and with the public.”

Grandstand steward

Considered to be “the best job to have on the Sunday” (because you get to see everything that goes on, without paying for a seat) the grandstand steward controls the flow of people in and out of the main arena.

What sort of prior experience is required?

“The ability to smile all day is quite helpful,” says Nikki. “And you should be able to strike up a rapport with members of the public.”

There are many more volunteer roles available at Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials, ranging from catering and programme selling to veterinary assistants. To register your interest, visit www.blenheimhorse.co.uk/volunteer

Applications for 2018 open in January.