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The season starts with ups and downs for Victoria Bax

It certainly hasn't been an easy start to 2013's eventing season for Victoria Bax and a rotational fall at Hambleden International meant an eleven day stay in hospital. Read on to find out more...

"So for me my season is starting with many ups and downs. After the first few events being cancelled due to the rain etc, I managed to squeeze Crysto in for a run H/C in the Novice section at Burnham Market International where he scored a great dressage of 31, then sadly got rather excited in the show jumping arena as it was on a surface, so quite tight for space, and positioned alongside the cross country start! So you can imagine Crysto found this way too exciting therefore losing his concentration for the most part and taking down three rails with him. He then excelled himself in the first round of the season to produce an effortless clear round cross country with some time penalties, although to be honest I wasn't pushing for time knowing that I couldn't be placed due to riding H/C.

Two days after competing at Burnham Market, both Salto and Crysto were entered into two British Dressage classes, which resulted in a very successful day whereby Salto won both his Novice Open classes with scores of over 70% and Crysto won both his classes with scores of over 65%. Who said Event riders can't do Dressage, and on two Exracehorses too! The following week Salto was back out at another BD competion and amazingly he managed to continue his roll of successes by again winning both of his Novice Open classes and again scoring 70% + in both!

Our next run was the following week at South of England Horse Trials, where Popps would contest the BE 100 and Crysto his first Intermediate of the year. This proved eventful as Popps just wouldn't settle whilst being ridden or stabled there knowing Crysto was there too which made things increasingly difficult.

Popps was first up on Saturday. Sadly the dressage didn't quite go to plan as there were a few extra movements that Popps threw in for good measure which I don't think the judge appreciated, still somehow she still managed to scored 44. A nice showjumping round followed with one rail coming down too, then a super fast, clear cross country round after that. I was thrilled with her jumping performance considering her first run at Isleham didn't end the way I would have hoped.

Next up was Crysto the following day. As we stayed over night and I didn't have early times I decided to take Crysto for a hack around the show ground in the morning to try and lose some of his excess energy! This didn't actually seem to do anything. When it came to our test he was still right on the edge. However, somehow he managed to keep it together to score a 30, which put us right on up there near the top of the leader board. Crysto then produced our first ever clear showjumping round at Intermediate level which I was absolutely thrilled with. The showjumping phase has never been our strongest phase because I get a little anxious and try to rush him and then he flattens and takes rails out so to have jumped clear round a very up to height course I was thrilled to pieces. Onto the cross country which was a lovely flowing, inviting course for our first Intermediate of the year and Crysto thought so too. In fact he was enjoying himself so much that he became rather too bold jumping into one of the combinations and very sadly I got left behind, lost my reins and we ran straight past the third element which was a rather large skinny triple brush after a step up on the angle and another her skinny triple brush in front of it. Gutted was an understatement as we then cruised round the rest of the course with ease and with very few time penalties. So lesson learnt there, I need to shut Crysto down a little more at the combinations to ensure I have the total control needed.

Next on the agenda was Hambledon International with both Popps and Crysto again but this time on separate days which saw us driving up on the Friday and the Sunday to compete. Popps kick started our weekend on the Friday by producing a much more settled dressage test than she did at South of England but typically ended up with a worse score! However, she then produced a fantastic double clear inside the time to climb the scoreboard by over 50%, so not a bad day at all.

Saturday brought another dressage outing with Salto with the aim of gaining the last point that we require to qualify for the Regional finals.  This meant however that we had to score 67% or more. Fortunately luck was on our side and after a testing warm up where for the first time ever Salto didn't settle as well as he usually does, he did manage to pull it out of the bag and we won the class on a score of 67.14% which meant that we earnt the point we needed.

Sunday brought Crysto's turn so back off to Hambledon we drove on Sunday morning. Crysto produced another good dressage this time scoring 35 but the judge didn't seem particularly generous on the day so this was one of the better scores in my section! Another fantastic clear show jump round followed which left me really keen to get out on that cross country to nail it and produce a good result. The cross country was big and technical with some places to gallop to make up time. There were a few fences which concerned me a little but I knew they wouldn't worry Crysto so I just told myself I needed to go out there and ride it like I meant it and that is certainly what I did! The round was amazing and Crysto really stepped upto the challenge making the course feel like a 90 class, not an Intermediate! However, after storming round and then turning towards the second last fence, a very big and very upright rail, ditch, rail combination, Crysto hesitated for a split second going in, I was positive and asked him to step up and jump but sadly he didn't quite manage to get both front legs up and out of the way in time as I soon found myself being sommersaulted over the rail with Crysto in hot pursuit. I felt myself land on the ground on my back to then look up and see and then feel Crysto hurtling through the air to land on top of me before he rolled off and down the slope.
This is where our day ended. Gutted was an understatement as I was right on up there on the leader board and would have had a top 3 placing.

As a result of this rotational fall at the second to last fence sadly I ended up perforating part of my intestines which required surgery to repair the damage and meant an eleven day stay in The Royal London Hospital for me. I am happy to say that I am now out of hospital and recovering well at home, infact I had the 40 or so staples removed from my stomach yesterday! However, it will be quite some time until I am back on board again, let alone competing at a decent level. Fortunately Crysto was rather lucky as it seems I cushioned his fall and he has walked away with a slight tear on one of the muscles in his neck but apart from that no lasting damage which I am absolutely amazed with considering what we both went through.

None of my friends or family can believe that I walked away from the fall and with no external damage at all, not one piece of broken skin, but sadly to put it bluntly, I totally bust a gut doing something that I thoroughly enjoy doing and I will be back later in the season to hopefully contend another CIC2* event. It just shows you how wearing the right safety equipment really can save lives..."

We would like to wish Victoria a speedy recovery and hope to see her back in the saddle soon!