A whole lot of hard graft backstage keeps the competition season in full swing, but things don't always go to plan for the show world's unsung heroes
Faulty wake-up calls
Having a social life on tap is one of the perks of being on “tour” at a show or event. Angie Murray, who provides arena decorations for the nation’s biggest shows, recalls a particularly lively bash at Royal Windsor one year, which led to her oversleeping when she should have been decorating the arena.
“Normally everyone is up getting things ready at 5am, but on this occasion I was woken up by a banging on my lorry door. Turns out I’d gone to bed with the tractor keys in my coat pocket and nobody could do anything the next morning until they’d been found!”
Ill-timed loo breaks
Jump judge coordinator Mary McNulty recalls an incident at Bicton “a long time ago” when one of her team failed to stop a horse on the cross-country when instructed to do so.
“It was just before a three-part combination known as the slalom and [former Australian Olympian] David Green had just fallen in the middle of it and broken his leg,” recalls Mary. “To compound the issue, one of the fence judges at this fence had nipped off for a loo break just before David’s fall, leaving only one poor lady at the scene, attending to David and trying stop the next two horses jumping on top of him. It’s the sort of scenario that hopefully wouldn’t be allowed to happen now!”
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There is always pressure to get things right when you have a microphone in your hand, but some riders’ names are easier to pronounce than others. “I often have to ask a chef d’equipe how one of their rider’s names is pronounced and even then I’ll have a total blank,” laughs Hickstead steward, Beverley Fleet. “The other announcement that always gets people giggling is when I call for ‘William Funnell to come into the funnel’.”