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Victora Bax on wet arenas, wild horses and winning!

Victoria Bax's varied team always bring us a whole host of annecdotes every month, that we can all relate to in some way or other! From wet, slippery arenas to needing to apply the emergency brakes (we've all been there!) Victoria's month has definitely been eventful!

"Our next stop this season was the beautiful Chilham Castle in Canterbury, Kent where Forrest was contending the BE100 again and Rock Step our second Novice. Forrest produced a better test than he did at Munstead to score 34.3, still not exactly the score I was looking for or know that he is capable of but atleast it is heading in the right direction again! The showjumping arena was pretty slippery and wet and sadly caught Forrest out as we made a turn and he slipped on take off so took one rail with him at fence 3, but continued to finish without further fault. I did run him Xc but decided to take it very slow indeed as having already slipped in the showjumping, I didn't want to risk a confidence knock by slipping again on the Xc. Forrest went onto complete a solid clear Xc with intentional time faults, so a positive day for him."

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"Rock Step certainly livened things up, I think he had the devil in him that day as he was very sharp, spooking and leaping around in the dressage warm up, including as we entered at A, but luckily the judge didn't seem to put off by that and we scored our best test yet for a 32.8.
Rock Step went on to warm up well for the showjumping, albeit still spooking! We started well over fences 1 & 2 but then he decided he didn't think much of the line of fences 3,4 & 5 and promptly ran left at the last minute, before having a paddy for a few seconds causing us to incur a number of time faults whilst completing the rest of the course beautifully!"

"The ground had started to dry a bit and the sun came out while I walked the Novice Xc course which did wonders for our confidence as we cruised around confidently for our first clear at Novice level, so not all bad more frustrating that when you get one phase right and not the next, but that is eventing!"

"The following week was an easy event as we only had Crysto on board to Keysoe for his second Open Novice run of his late starting season. Thankfully after his first event, his winter injury appeared to have stood up to competing albeit at the first event we only hacked around the Xc slowly keeping everything crossed the injury held up. This time however, I felt confident to kick on a bit, especially as even though having been first into the dressage we scored a superb 25.8, which was a good 5 penalties clear of anyone else! We were then the first to jump clear in the show jumping, so obviously when I set off on the Xc course I was in a very strong position. I even worked out I could finish 15 seconds over the optimum time and still win if we were clear, which is a position I don't think I have ever been in before. Still, head and mind on the job we set off confidently and easily cruised round the Xc rather too fast actually and when I checked my watch before the second last, I realised I could slow down a little. So crossed the finish line about 9 seconds inside the time, meaning we had done it and took our first win of the season, perfect! Thankfully Crysto was sound, fit and well in himself the following day having been pushed on round the Xc the day before so safe to say I think that he has come back well from his injury, long may that continue."

"A weekend off competing followed so we took the opportunity to take Milli out showjumping and Xc schooling again, both of which she did well having not been anywhere for a couple of weeks, so thankfully she is still making progress and does not appear to have slipped back at all. However, I feel there is still some way to go yet before she is ready to attempt her first BE yet so the training will continue!"

"Lastly for this month was a busy weekend with 3 horses competing at Rockingham Castle in Northampton, so a 250 mile round trip for me, which we did twice! Rockingham Castle is an amazing event in stunning grounds of a huge country estate, with long rolling and undulating ground on the Xc which is beautifully built and dressed so definitely worth the effort to travel up there."

"Forrest was first up on the Friday in the BE100 class. He produced a very nice dressage test for a score of 31 which set us off to a good start. He warmed up well for the showjumping but sadly once in the arena he ran on a little and flattened over a couple of fences taking 2 rails out while he went. I was somewhat disappointed with this as his showjumping has improved so well over the winter period but that's horses!"

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"He definitely made up for it on the Xc though as it was very big and very wide with maximum dimensions on a lot of the fences so it was going to take some jumping, but this proved no problem for Forrest and he jumped his socks off for a lovely clear round inside the time which I was thrilled with. Once Forrest was sorted and made comfortable, I headed back out onto the course to walk my track for the Intermediate so I had one less thing to do on Sunday when we returned with Crysto and Rock Step on board."

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"I was happy with the Intermediate course and felt confident that it shouldn't cause Crysto a problem on his first run back at that level. So a second 4.30am alarm in 3 days and we were off back on the road again. Crysto produced a very nice dressage test with one tiny mistake where he took canter to start with rather than medium trot but that was corrected in super speedy time. He scored 37.7 which I was disappointed with as I thought it was worth so much better but once I looked at the other scores in comparison we were lying about 12th so there were many more with a worse score than us."

"The showjumping warm up proved somewhat tricky as it was next to another arena were the shire horses, their bells and their cart we doing a display, but thankfully Crysto didn't appear too distracted and warmed up well. The course was very big with a huge first fence so you had to start as you meant to go on which we did cleanly over fences 1 & 2. We turned to the first line of fences which were heading directly toward the crowds and the busy trade stands which proved a distraction for Crysto as he backed off quite violently which meant we didn't get a great jump in over the first Oxer but we did it. In turn this made the 4 stride distance to the next Oxer a bit long so I am the decision to hold and add an extra stride, which then in turn got us in a bit too close to the upright which we took down with us. We managed to get out covering the one side distance to the next Oxer, but then momentum didn't keep us going to the last Oxer 4 strides further on and we were a bit far off so took that top rail out too. By this time Crysto was a bit on edge with his head up in the air and bouncing a little on the spot so I had to take a second or two to regroup and continue which we did and he jumped the rest of the course very well including the last line which ran right alongside the trade stands and included a huge treble then 5 strides to a set of planks all of which he jumped beautifully. So a somewhat disappointing round but he did redeem himself."

"Then onto the Xc which he made feel like a pony club course as he skipped round it with ease which I was absolutely thrilled with being our first Intermediate run again of the season.
Rock Step was up next and after a small problem of having been given the wrong number earlier in the morning, I was given permission to ride my dressage test without a number on which felt a bit strange. Rock Step then jumped out of his skin to produce a superb clear in the showjumping which nearly left his owner in tears again, as that is the phase she found the hardest with him.
So onto the Xc. I was quietly confident with this although his owner had told me to give him a bit of a wake up call before the big ditch palisade fence coming out the woods. So we set off in a nice rhythm over the first and as I went past the tannoy towards the second I heard my dressage score of 33.8! Wow, I didn't expect that, so knowing we were clear showjumping, I immediately put my foot down which I have not done with him yet and my goodness did I light the blue touch paper, we we off!"

"Heading to the trekhenur, having remembered his owner had mentioned about the ditch palisade and getting his attention I decided to give him a reminder here first. Everything was fine, but as he took off he suddenly noticed the ditch underneath and put his head down between his legs for a spook, so I sat tight and thankfully landed on the otherside unscathed! Knowing the big ditch palisade was next and that he had just spooked at a smaller ditch I gave him a bit of a wake up call and it certainly did the job as he absolutely ballooned over the ditch palisade, I even heard the fence judges and spectators gasp with how high he jumped! I had a bit of trouble regaining control after that jump but the emergency brake eventually worked and we were set back up again for the quarry, through the coffin and the last few fences, to finish about 14 seconds over the time. This gave us 6 time penalties which sadly dropped us out of the placings but nevertheless, our first double clear at Novice level in only the 4th event we have ridden together in and I only ride him once a week as it is, so not a bad job even if I do say so myself I reckon!"

"I have got a break next weekend as it is actually my birthday so I think we will head up to Houghton to watch the big guns in the CIC3* for a change, before getting back to it and preparing for Little Downham and beyond. Until next time..."