An intermittent start to the season for Victoria Bax

Victoria Bax of VB Eventing tells us about ditches with monsters in and accepting defeat against the snow and rain in her latest blog...

"Our first event didn't quite go as planned but there were some positive bits to take home from it. An early start for us as we travelled up the M11 towards Isleham, Cambridge with just Popps on board ready to contest the BE100 class. Last season Popps only competed in two events and only then as a stand in for one of my others horses who was due to compete but then couldn't for other reasons. Popps has been struggling with back related issues as I previously mentioned so last year I took time out on her from eventing for treatment and work to help strengthen her to make things easier for her. To be honest I didn't know whether I would even get her back out competing again so to have her entered and enroute to her first event was a bonus!"

Popps eventing
"Popps warmed up very nicely indeed for the dressage phase which has always been the phase where she struggled. We rode our test in a calm and precise way which I was happy with. Our show jumping round was the best round to date, even though she managed to take out the second from last rail, she was calm, controlled and relaxed which is a huge improvement for her. So onto the cross country round. I had walked the course and felt confident that she was capable of completing. We shot out the start box like a rocket and she absolutely stormed round the first half of the course combating a couple of combination fences and the water fence. Then we approached the ditch combination. It had a roll top on the way in, then a left handed curving 4 strides to a huge deep coffin style ditch where the ground ran away down to the ditch, then to a skinny box fence about 3 strides away. I rode confidently into the roll top which we popped over and made the turn for the ditch. Here Popps decided that she wasn't sure about the ditch and we stopped. I quickly circled her round and approached it again where this time Popps confirmed that she did not want to go anywhere near that ditch by standing bolt upright. At this point I calmly and quietly decided to call it a day and walked off the course. I was rather disappointed with this at the time as although we have battled a little with some ditches in the past she has also confidently jumped ditches and trakheners too more recently. Popps is not the type of animal to argue with as we have struggled with major confidence issues in the past so rather than have an argument with her at the ditch and break down our partnership further, I decided I would go away and do some more homework there in preparation for our next outing. It made me feel a little bit better to hear later on that the same ditch had caused absolute carnage over the whole weekend, including some Advanced horse being eliminated at it! I don't know what it is about that particular ditch but there is definitely something in it that the horses can see but we can't! Because of this, I decided the following day to take Popps straight back out cross country schooling to re-present her at some ditches whilst the problem was still fresh; you guessed it she didn't even look at a thing and jumped all the ditches without looking including the big trekhaneur, as pictured,  grrrr frustrating or what!"

Popps trakhener
"Next out was Crysto who was due at Tweseldown to run in the ON section. Sadly the British weather had other ideas and the heavens absolutely opened and didn't stop the night before. My husband was due to meet me down at Tweseldown as he was staying down near there for work purposes, he went over to the site on Friday morning and called me to say that the entire site was like a bog, including the dressage warm up, dressage arenas, show jump warm up and show jump arena and the best bit really was the Xc course although the water jump was rather more full than it should have been. He made the decision for me and told me not to bother travelling down. This was a very good call as the rain continued solidly throughout the day and only about 20% of riders completed that day, with all the others withdrawing due to the dire conditions. I am rather surprise that the organisers continued throughout the day but I can understand why. For me and my horses however, the conditions we just not worth risking."

"So onto the next event which should have been Gt Witchingham. I say should have been as yes you guessed it the weather had other ideas again. This time it wasn't the rain but the snow and blizzards that were the problem! The event did run and some competitors made the decision to run their horses but for me setting off at 5.30 am for a 3 hour journey with 2 horses on board, riding through a blizzard all day in a wind chill factor of about -10 and then travelling him again with NO heating in my lorry and finally getting home (hopefully) about 8 PM was not my idea of fun, or in my mind worth risking the journey or my horses for so I made the decision to withdraw again.  I received running commentary throughout the day from others who were competing and saw pictures of the ground and fences completely covered in snow with the event still running so it only confirmed that I had made the right decision not to run. Nothing is worth the risk if you ask me, my horses are too precious to me and there is always another day."

Popps dressage
"However, this has left me in a bit of a situation now as Crysto still has not had a run this season yet and his next event entered is South of England, but in the Intermediate class! Fortunately I have managed to get a late entry into Burnham Market Horse Trials this coming Thursday so fingers crossed we might just manage to get a run in. I have had to go H/C in a Novice section though as the Open Novice is already full, which means I can not actually be competitive in the class, but can simply use the round as a training round. So as it stands I have a stable booked in North Norfolk on Wednesday night having driven the 4 hour journey just to get a run on the Thursday where I can not even win it! Now that's got to be dedication hasn't it, or maybe just stupidity!"

Popps jumping