Victoria Bax tackles her nemesis fence


“The last month has seen us travelling to Little Downham BE twice in two days, a local outing for riding club team dressage and a trip to Stratford Hills BE.”

“Popps and Crysto were entered in the Novice and Intermediate sections at Little Downham on the Friday, which incidentally was my birthday, so I hoped for a birthday treat too! Crysto was up first, where he produced a nice dressage test to be lying 8th after dressage, which I was pleased with. He showjumped well too, with just a very unlucky one rail and one time penalty. The cross country however was a different story, as when I walked it I got to fence 8, only to find the exact replica of the fence where we had our rotational fall at last year, a very upright rail with a steep sloping landing to a coffin, then a brush fence after. As I stood and faced the fence, I knew I was going to come across this type of fence sooner or later being back at Intermediate level and today was the day! This is the point that I made a hasty phone call to my trainer Lucy Thompson for some much needed words of encouragement. I explained the situation and she was quick to settle my nerves as we discussed how I was going to approach this combination and what I would be thinking etc. There was however an alternative for the rail on the way in, however, it made getting to the ditch rather difficult, so I figured I would have to go the straight route. As I expected, Lucy managed to give me the right words as we stormed around the cross country with just a few time penalties but no jumping penalties, I had done it, conquered my nemesis, I felt great! To add a birthday treat to the day we managed to finish 7th in our intermediate section, our first one since our accident, what an awesome performance from my Wonderboy! Popps was up next where she performed another average dressage test, with another unlucky rail in the showjumping, but then sadly after storming the first way round the cross country course decided that she didn't fancy the coffin and that was the end of her round.” 

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“We enjoyed one day at the home the following day but then travelled back up to Little Downham on the Sunday to contend Forrest's first BE100 class. He performed a beautiful dressage test for a score of 28, which I was very pleased with. Sadly though as we warmed up for the showjumping phase he was not being particularly careful with his toes and when our round came, we ended up with 4 rails down and a handful of time penalties. At first I was quite disappointed with this however, as I thought about this, I realised that this was actually Forrest's first round of show jumps at 1m in height, although we have practiced loads at home actually going out and riding a course is quite different. The 4 rails he had down were in the first half of the course, so as we went on it seems he realised that he needed to pick his toes up that extra bit! Then on to the cross country, I felt quietly confident about the course as I had previously seen the combinations that we were to encounter so I had made sure that I replicated them at home on the Saturday to ensure we were ready. Forrest was very keen to get out of the start box and off we went over the first 3 straight forward fences, then onto the first combination of two angled corners which we cleared albeit not too stylishly! Forrest made light work of the full coffin fence, the first two waters, including a step out and one stride to a very upright rail, and the handing log drop to another corner. As we neared the end of the course, we were heading towards a big ditch palisade, which did have an alternative, but as Forrest is usually quite bold I decided to go for it. On our approach I did give him a little wake up call with my stick, to ensure I had his full attention, as we got closer, I felt him hesitate for a second so I gave him some more encouragement and we sailed over it, albeit a little to the right, narrowly missing the red flag and a tree, but we were still clear! A doubles of skinnies were next which caused us no problem, then on to the last water fence and we were home clear with some time penalties in our first BE100 cross country round! I had forgotten how tricky it is riding a real green baby round a bigger track, he certainly made me work, I can tell you!”

“The following week Forrest and Crysto had been called up by my local riding club to fill in two places in the dressage teams. Forrest was asked to compete in his first Novice dressage test, which I really didn't think would be a problem at all as he is coming along beautifully in that phase. The result, a cracking score of 70% to win the class! Crysto also performed very well for another big score of 78% for 2nd place, so another good day.”

“Lastly this month was a trip to Stratford Hills BE, our one and only local event, for Forrest's second BE100. He did not settle too well in the dressage and it reflected in his score of 39 which is not like him considering the same test two weeks prior he had scored 28! He show jumped better than ever, although still managed 2 rails down which was a shame but the course was causing all sorts of problems for others so I was actually rather pleased! The cross country was big and technical but I still felt quietly confident as Forrest has such boldness about him so off we went, thrown straight in at the deep end with a very big upright fence 2. The first combination was a drop off a step coming out of the wood, then two strides to a wall which rode well. The water was the next combination, which I thought was quite tricky for this level. It had a very upright white stile in front of the water, a run through the water, up a step, then one stride to a skinny, all of which Forrest absolutely nailed! He flew the trakhener and another skinny combination then down to the coffin, which the course designer had sneakily placed a skinny fence on the approach with a curving left 4/5 strides to the coffin. Forrest took a bit of a flyer over the skinny which meant I really did have to put the brakes on to make the turn to the coffin but we did it! A few more straight forward fences, a corner and then a last step up on the angle with a very long once stride to another skinny which we had to be totally committed to, to make the distance and we were home and dry another clear cross country for Forrest at BE100 level, awesome!”

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