Have you ever wondered how much organisation goes into your favourite show? We’ve spoken to Simon Bates at Keysoe to find out his tricks of the trade and just how much work is required behind the scenes to pull off a successful show.
A year before
- Plan feasibility
- Apply to governing body for a date
- Look at other similar shows that run in the format we are looking for (this is much more fun when it is an international trip for an international show)
- Look at how to achieve a certain style and feel at the show… what do we need to be strict on? What do we need to be really laid back with?
- For a show that we have already run, it will be a case of taking notes straight after the show so we can look back on them in 12 months time when we do it again. We run about 150 show days at Keysoe, so remembering an individual show a year ago needs a little help!
6 months before
- Look to plan officials
- Invite judges
- Start the ball rolling with volunteers (a horse trials will have about 50 volunteers a day)
4 months before
- Write the schedule
- Make a wild guess at the numbers and popularity of the show in order to guess at a fair, but viable entry fee
3 months before
- Pass all the worry on to my office team!
Close of entries
- Look at numbers and guess the level of late entries we will achieve
- Appoint judges and officials
- Create a draft timetable
The day before the times are due out
- Timetable the event
- Give officials their times (well, I will supervise my hard-working office team and take the glory where appropriate, haha)
- Sort out times
10 minutes after the times go out
- Corrections and changes
- Finalise staffing and times
Day of event
- Aim to have woken up, showered and walked dog at least half an hour before the first horse (for horse trials at first light if there has been more than a drop of rain, as there will be calls questioning abandonment)
- Check the staff are all in
- Check everything is working
At the start of the event
- Rapidly fix the electrical items the judges have broken
- Once things are going smoothly swan around like I own the place (in reality I’m a spare pair of hands if things go wrong / relief is needed / issues need resolving / get feedback on how things are by chatting with customers / delivery boy if supplies are required)
At the end of day
- Thank the show team (officials / volunteers / staff)
- Check everything has been closed down properly
- Check we are on track for the next day
- Crawl in a hole and sleep
Now we have an idea of what Simon gets up to in the run up to a show we decided to ask him a few more questions…
Q&A with Simon Bates
Which show do you enjoy organising the most?
How long have you been organising shows?
It will be 20 years this year
What is your go-to snack from the canteen to keep you going throughout the day?
Sweet potato fries
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Sharing peoples leisure time and sporting passion
What did you do when you were younger?
I used to work in the food industry making cold fizzy tea
Can we have a bit of Keysoe’s history?
Keysoe was a family farm for three generations (although my family have been farming for longer), however sitting in a tractor all day was really not my thing. I started with a livery yard and an indoor arena (we had no other facilities) and it grew from there.
Are there plans for any big new shows?
First CDI dressage show this April
Do you compete yourself?
Pony club and hunting
If you had to do any other job what would you do?
One that started at 9am, finished at 5pm, was 5 days a week and had 28 days holiday (until the novelty wore off)
What is your funniest memory from a show at Keysoe?
We used to carry on with schooling on the cross-country courses during major shows until an event horse appeared riderless at the side of the arena mid show
After the end of another successful show how do you finish your day?
Sometimes a meal in, sometimes a meal out, sometimes a quick drink and sometimes to bed totally wiped out