In the Start Box with Chris Kirby


“It’s a fundamentally simple job; you’re looking at saying ‘5,4,3,2,1,Go’ every two minutes but a lot of riders need help, a lot of riders need that bit of confidence or they may need nothing at all from the Starter”

The job of the Starter on cross country is far more complex than the ‘5,4,3,2,1,Go’, as we learn from Chris Kirby in this interview. Chris can be found at the Start Box on cross country courses throughout the South of England during the British Eventing season and his 30 years experience clearly shows as he works with horses and riders

In 2014 Chris received the highest Award given by British Eventing, the BE Award and also collected the South East Eventing League's Volunteer of the Year award in the same year

“I do this job for fun, I do this job for pleasure, I don’t do it for Awards but I have received them and it’s been great”



He loves the sport and engaging with the riders, from those at the top of the sport down to grassroots level ( and many of them come and tell him how their ride went after completing) but he also has a passion for the horses

“One of the benefits for me is that I actually love the horses and one of the joys of doing the job is that I can see and work with some of the best examples of horses in the country at the top level. And they are superb, really superb. To be able to sidle up to them, touch them and stroke them while I talk to the rider and I can see the horse engage with me and that’s lovely”

On the other hand, they are not all perfect!

“Some you can’t do a thing with! They’ll go backwards, they’ll bum slam you, they’ll do anything to get away from what they have to do next!”

We talk to Chris about how he became a Cross Country Starter, the secrets of handling horses and riders at that nerve wracking moment before leaving the Start Box and what his job each weekend entails

(Chris also has a passion for statistics and you can see his 2017 FEI CCI4* Stats Summary here)


Chris Kirby