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Victoria Bax gets to Gatcombe!

Well it's been a month of highs, and, shall we say, "challenges" for our resilient Victoria Bax! Read all about her adventures at Gatcombe - which started even before she set off!

"The first day of my month started off very nicely but about 6pm that night it all went horribly wrong when we broke down in the lorry 10 miles from home with two youngsters onboard. After being recovered, front lifted and towed home with the horses still on board, we finally arrived home about 9.30pm from their first Horse Trials at Brightling Park with my two youngsters, Alberta's Rose (Tilly) and Alberta's Elegance (Milli) onboard which were bought unbacked at Ascot last June."

"The pair of them were absolutely impeccably behaved from start to finish considering how much there was for them to see and experience for the first time. The lorry park was full, the dressage warm up was busy and on very undulating ground which neither of them have experienced until then. The dressage arena was on a slight incline too which made the left canter pretty tricky for them both but they coped very well actually.
Tilly produced a lovely test with a couple of wobbly moments to score a super 30 which put her 5th after dressage, she then went on to jump a superb clear in the showjumping, her first real course with plenty of fillers and related distances. She started very green on the Xc and we encountered a slight hesitation at a ditch which was positioned in a hedge line at the end of the field and with shadows on the ground etc so rather spooky and I just don't think she worked it out the first time round, but once she'd had a look we were off again. We also encountered a bit of a hesitation at the first water which again was very spooky being under trees and with a boat and jetty in it to look at too, but what I was absolutely over the moon with was after braving that she then went straight through the second water with no hesitation at all; a quick learner here I reckon!"

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"Milli also produced a beautiful dressage test in the same arena so encountered the same incline and she dealt with it better than Tilly, however at this stage she is simply not as flashy as Tilly so despite producing a very accurate and relaxed test the marks just weren't as good scoring 36. Now jumping and spookiness has been a huge issue for Milli ever since I bought her so over the week prior to the event I had jumped her pretty much everyday over something different in the hope of helping her to realise that things weren't going to bite in preparation for this event. Well this clearly had a positive effect as although it took some riding to get round she jumped well round the same showjumping course just clipping the second part of the double after we wobbled into it, but no stops which is amazing. So onto the Xc for her and she absolutely blew me away with a pretty confident and easy clear; who has taken my sharp spooky mare and replaced her with a much calmer straight forward thinking one, or is it simply all the damn hard work I have put into her that appears to finally be paying off!"

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"Next stop was Gatcombe for The Featival of Eventing which Crystal Ka and I qualified for earlier this year. It was my first visit to Gatcombe which made this super special, however with our lorry out of action due to requiring a new fuel pump which was not a straight forward job, the first task was to beg, steal or borrow a lorry to make this adventure happen. The power of Facebook is an amazing thing; after placing a post up asking for the use of a lorry, I was inundated with offers and finally took up the very very kind offer from a lady who I have known for 20 years or so although not a friend as such but she still entrusted me with her prize lorry to not only transport my Wonderboy to Gatcombe but also to be my home for 4 days. Wow, how incredibly kind of her to do this for me; an offer I will be forever grateful for."

"So finally on the road we made the 4 hour journey to Gatcombe and in fact were the first lorry on site so had the choice of parking spaces!
After finding my stable and setting up camp my trainer Lucy Thompson arrived and gave me a guided tour around the site so I could then go and explore on horseback later that afternoon. I had early dressage times the following morning as I was 3rd in so it meant for an early morning workout before my test to try to settle my boy which appeared to work beautifully at the time."

"So feeling fairly confident about an hour later we went back out there to warm up and ride our test. Crystal Ka made a good effort and managed to contain his excitement although a couple of annoying mistakes cost us a decent score so I was a little disappointed at the time. So onto the Xc walk which I did with Lucy to help get my lines and approaches to fences straight in my head. I was confident with the Xc as Crystal Ka is very established now at Intermediate level and this was the Novice Championships."

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"However the showjumping was to come first the following day. This did cause us a few problems as my boy became rather exited and made things extremely difficult the entire round by not relaxing, becoming disunited nearly every stride and constantly throwing his head around making it very difficult indeed to get to a fence in the right place and in a fashion which would allow him to be able to jump things cleanly. The result, 3 rails down and time faults; a huge disappointment."

"A couple of hours to relax before we set out on the Xc course, which went like an absolute dream, meeting everything at the right place at the right time and storming through the finish still full of running and even after stripping him off and washing down, I was then towed the 10 minute walk back to the stables by a still raring to go blood horse! So we completed our first Gatcombe Festival of Eventing, not entirely with the result I was after but still we completed and many others didn't, so definitely one for the CV."

"So back home and to the reality of a broken lorry. Finally I was advised by the mechanics that they had the new part but needed the lorry in their workshop as it was not going to be a straightforward job. The result my lorry was once again front lifted and towed up to the workshop but thankfully 4 days later I was able to drive it home with it purring like a kitten! Phew what a relief to have it back in full working order, then just the huge bill to pay; lucky I had recently sold a horse so fortunately had the money burning a hole in my bank account, although not really what I had planned on spending it on."

"Our next stop is another event for the youngsters and a further outing for Crystal Ka, so until next time..."