Victoria Bax - Cross-country frustrations

Last month saw Crystal Ka head off to Keysoe to contend the Open Novice class, where he started with a good dressage score to be laying about 4th, followed by one of only a handful of clear rounds in the Showjumping, but then sadly things didn't quite go to plan on the cross country course where we managed to pick up 20 penalties at a steep incline with a log/brush fence at the top of it. We jumped part A, kicked on up the slope but we just didn't meet the fence in the right place and there was no way we could jump it safely, so we circled round, approached again and popped over sweetly to finish the course.

If that wasn't frustrating enough we then had to wait a couple of hours for a recovery truck because we had yet another problem with our lorry.  Crystal Ka and I travelled home in a horse transporter and my husband with the lorry on the back of a tow truck.  Not the end to the day we really wanted.
The next couple of days saw us trying desperately to find another mechanic to sort out this next lorry problem.  Thankfully we were recommended another local mechanic who fitted us in and sorted the problem immediately, which meant we were back on the road again and able to go out Showjumping that week.
I took Alberta's Rose out for a mid week showjump where she jumped well in the Discovery and 1.05m although we appeared to have 4 fault-itis!
Next up this month was another cross country clinic at a local venue to me, Stratford Hills.  We had a beautifully sunny day and everyone enjoyed themselves and learnt lots.
The following week Alberta's Rose and I headed to Poplar Park for only her second event of the season due to either lorry or horse injury. The day started superbly with 7 yr old Alberta's Rose producing the most beautifully relaxed and expressive dressage test to earn a very well deserved score of just 24 penalties (76%) to lead the section by 2 marks. We added just 4 penalties after our Showjumping round which left us still very much in contention going out onto the xc.
We started off a little hesitant, which I expected having not been cross country since April, but soon she was taking on every fence we approached until 4 fences from home we climbed a really steep hill only to see the waving of red flags as we approached the next fence.  Unfortunately the rider before me had a fall towards the end of the course and was being attended to by paramedics, hence me being stopped.  
Atleast 30/40 minutes passed before I was called to warm up again.  This meant having completely cooled off and switched off I had to razz myself and horse back up again to climb the steep hill and attack the fence infront of me which just happened to be one of the bigger fences on my course being a square hay cart with a fairly sharp left hand turn to a corner; a big ask for any horse let alone a 7yr still learning the ropes.  Still we did it and sailed easily over both of them.  As we slowed to approach the penultimate fence, the second water complex Alberta's Rose jumped boldly into the water over the imaginary log infront of the water.  This would have been ok had she not have hit  the bottom of the water and then stumbled heavily going right down on her knees burying her head totally in the water and sending me flying and completely submerging me underwater.  In her attempt to get back up she must have lost her balance again as she appeared to roll sideways and rolled onto me preventing me from getting up momentarily.  As soon as we could we both stood up unscathed but were sadly unable to compete the final fence, due to being a horse fall we were eliminated.
I was absolute gutted that Alberta's Rose was punished for being so bold at this stage of the course having had to deal with the stopping and the restarting so well.  I am also gutted to say that this stumble cost us a very decent 2nd placing too.
Still I was very grateful that we both walked away and are fine albeit Alberta's Rose has 2 very swollen knees.  Hopefully this will not have dented her keenness for when we take on our next event.
There were a number of other falls and nasty stumbles throughout the class at this water complex so I am hoping it gets the required attention from the organisers to ensure the grounding under the water is all in order as I can't help but think something was a miss for so many horses to have problems there.
Sadly two weeks later I am still not entirely happy that Alberta's Rose is 100% fit and well so she is currently having a bit of down to give her plenty of time to fully recover.  I am keeping everything tightly crossed that there is nothing more serious going on, but I guess only time will tell.  She is being dosed up with Aloeride, a very useful Aloe Vera supplement from my sponsor in order to encourage her to heal better as it has many useful properties in it which can do nothing but help make her feel more comfortable.
The following week, Crystal Ka had a busy weekend as he was filling a space on a local Riding Club Team competition where he promptly won his Elementary class with a whopping score of 79.26% and by 5%! The next day we headed off to Borde Hill to contend the Open Novice class.
We produced another super dressage to leave us in the top 3 which I was very pleased with.  It seems that finally at the grand old age of 15 years old, Crystal Ka is becoming consistent with his dressage tests!  He has always been a hot head and when everything goes to plan is unbeatable but sadly when it doesn't it can go badly wrong!
We moved onto the Showjumping which was a proper course and causing huge problems.  I have never seen so many scores of more than 24 penalties meaning a number of riders were unable to go out onto the cross country course. So when we managed a round with just 3 fences down I was rather pleased!  The course was extremely intense, up to height and on a sloped arena which added together was the reasons for all the problems.
As a result of this, I made the decision to withdraw and not run cross country.  As I was no longer in contention to win and because I had managed to substitute Crystal Ka into Little Downham the following week in place of Alberta's Rose as she was not yet fit, I felt I would save him for that.  This decision obviously made for a long drive home though!
So now with only Crystal Ka from my team fit and able to compete, I have managed to pick up a couple of other rides from local owners, so I hopefully be able to keep my eye in competing for the rest of the season until my other horses are back in action.
Until next time...
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