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Victoria Bax faces some demons

The starter pistol has fired on Victoria Bax's season - and what a start it has been! Facing demons, gradients, and a mad dash to change venue ... It's all happened this month! Catch up with Victoria's season openers and ride the courses and emotions with her in the latest blog:

"So, finally my season has got underway at Munstead. I was contending the BE100 with 7yr old Forrest and my first event on Rock Step in the BE100 Open. Forrest was up first but sadly felt a little wobbly during the dressage. I think this may have something to do with having worked on a lovely level arena surface all winter and not touching any grass! Also the dressage arenas at Munstead are slightly on a gradient which Forrest totally picked up on. Having said that, he scored a 37 which for him is quite high really as usually he hits th very low 30's or late 20's."

"So onto the showjumping, which so far in Forrest's short eventing career has been his nemesis! We have been working hard over the winter on his flat work to help improve his jumping. Forrest is very tight behind almost like he is wearing tight knickers, so I have been working on helping him to spread his back legs a little to make him more stable both on the flat and when pushing off over a fence which in turn assist greatly in getting him up higher in the air. This appears to be working very well as Forrest jumped his first ever clear showjump round at 100 level and at his first event of the year, not bad even if I do say so myself! He then went onto produce a confident clear XC with some time faults which pushed us out of any placings."

"Rock Step was up next and having only really schooling him on the flat once before this event we managed to produce a score of 36 which I was comfortable with. We went onto jump a lovely double clear which both myself and his owner were thrilled with. Following this event we made the decision to enter him in his next event at Goring the following week but in the Novice class. I also had Crysto and Forrest entered so it was going to be a busy day for me. Sadly the decision was made to cancel Goring due to weather and ground issues which the organisers were unable to overcome. I tried to re route to South of England but clearly I wasn't quick enough as after an hour of the word coming out that Goring was canceled, entries had closed for South of England in record time! This just meant further time training for me before my next event!"

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"Hambledon was next on the agenda for Rock Step and my top horse Crystal Ka's return to eventing following a winter check ligament injury.
I took him out showjumping the week before and he produced two super double clear rounds and then XC schooling for a second time and he was completely up for it! I have been looking forward to returning to Hambledon for 2 years as the last time I was there was when Crystal Ka and I suffered a horrid rotational fall at the penultimate fence, the coffin in the Intermediate class. This is the fall which saw me under go major abdominal surgery and a two week stay in hospital, so I really wanted to face my demons and complete the course. Rock Step's owner and I had decided to enter him in the Novice as I felt very comfortable riding him already and knowing that he has competed at Novice level previously gave me the confidence I needed. Crystal Ka was up first and produced a lovely calm and confident dressage test which would have score him 30 had the rider not had a Sat Nav error and gone the wrong way therefore encountering 2 penalties, doh!"

"With that behind us we warmed up for the showjumping only to produce the most superb clear round. A quick change and up to the XC warm up where I was feeling quietly confident. "5,4,3,2,1 Go, Good luck" were the last words I heard and we were off, over the first, over the second and onto the third...bang! Goodness knows how as I set him up beautifully, but he appeared to misread the height of the fence and hit it quite hard, flinging me forward but thank goodness he then threw his head up and clouted me in the face, righting me back into the saddle and somehow managing to right himself too, phew, my heart was seriously in my mouth for a few seconds there! I rode even more cautiously over the next couple of fences including a stone wall as obviously I didn't want a repeat at that fence! After the brick wall, we were off and feeling much more confident and cruised round easily, although as I approached the penultimate fence, the coffin, I did actually consider pulling up, but then I gave myself a stern talking to and told myself to grow some balls! I sat up approached and we were over and through the finish line!"

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"Rock Step was a horse on a mission that day, he was warming up like a tank round the dressage area, thankfully though I managed to settle him enough to produce another test worthy of a 36, so consistent to the last event! I was confident in the showjump warm up as he felt great and sure enough he didn't disappoint and picked his toes up giving each and every fence at least another foot for yet another outstanding clear round, his owner was nearly in tears as she couldn't believe how high and well he was jumping. Another quick change and a re run through the XC course in my head before we set off on only the third time I had sat on him on a XC course; the first being XC schooling, the second being around the 100 at Munstead and now I was faced with a decent Novice course in front of me. Off we went, over the first, over the second, over the third cleanly thank goodness and away. He was a little spooky going into the first water but we were clear. Further into the course were two big steps down which his owner had told me would need a bit of riding, so I approached strongly, maybe a little too strongly as the cheeky sod took a sudden lurch to the left and we had run out, damn. I gathered him up again and represented to hop down clear for the second attempt and we were away again. The rest of the round was sound and we made it over that coffin again and through the finish. So a great day this time round at Hambledon for me."

"The following day was rising 6 yr old Milli's debut at a local eventer trial at 90 level. She has not been easy to start. As little as 6 weeks ago she would not jump a stick or a filler, so repeated SJ and XC training on a weekly, more twice weekly basis has kept me very busy. It turned out to be a more positive day than not though. We managed to complete the SJ phase with just 2 minor blips and then although we didn't quite complete the XC we got a darn site further than I had originally thought we would! The course was very big and very tricky for this level in my opinion and asked quite a few technical questions due to the terrain too. By the time we were 3/4 of the way round Milli was absolutely pooped having made some huge green jumping efforts, so we headed for home as there is always another day!"

"Our training will continue so she will hopefully be ready to face her first BE event soon, oh and we have finally decided on a name for her.
My late grandma, Alberta was responsible for introducing me to horses and giving me the bug so we have decided that any unnamed horses we have will have her name as the prefix, so Milli will now be ridden under the name Alberta's Elegance, so keep an eye out for us! Next up we are heading to Chilham and Keysoe so until next time..."