Victoria Bax's blog: Forrest makes an exciting BE debut


Another busy month on the go for Nedz sponsored rider Victoria Bax!

“The month started with us heading off to Milton Keynes with 6year old Forrest for his debut at BE 90 level. He didn't settle in the dressage as much as he has done previously which makes me wonder if he is getting the idea of the Eventing lark now and knew what was coming next, although we didn't fair too bad as he still managed a 31.5 score."

"The showjumping was causing a few problem as the course builder had conveniently placed 7 out of the 9 course fences on the downhill so yes you guessed it, caused trouble for some, but thankfully not for Forrest who skipped round for a lovely clear. The cross country couldn't come soon enough, Forrest was fit and raring to go. He shot out of the start box and that is how it continued for the first 4 fences! I will be honest we were a bit lucky over a couple as he was pulling so much that we got in so close to them. I knew I had to do something drastic to regain my control so I pulled him right back and spent the next 8 or 9 fences schooling him round to ensure that I had proper control as being still young and inexperienced I couldn't let him carry on in this manner otherwise it would have become dangerous. Things were much improved and we skipped all the way home for our first double clear 90 cross country and inside the time at that! This not only produced a fab first BE90 but left us in the placings. We were given 5th on a score of 31.5, however it was that tight at the top that the winner was on 30.5, so just 1 point away, now that can't be bad can it? In actual fact we came 3rd really, as 2nd and 3rd were joint as was 4th and myself, however joint placings are not given out so it goes on the closest time to the optimum on the cross country which is where we were sadly pushed down the line. Still to say I was chuffed is an understatement.”

Forrest Milton Keynes
“Rockingham Castle was next on the agenda with Crysto and Popps. Sadly Popps ended up being balloted as the decision was made to cut entire Novice sections on Sunday to make room for more intermediate entries. Not to worry I thought as I managed to sneak a late entry into Mattingley on the Friday before. However, it seems Popps was not meant to compete that weekend as Mattingley was completely abandoned due to Mother Nature and her need to rain!”

“I have never been to Rockingham before as it only started last year and obviously I was rather worse for wear this time last year so missed out. It has a very big feel to the event and is set on the most beautiful countryside I think I have ever had the opportunity to compete in. Sadly the dressage didn't quite go to plan as there was far to much going on around for Crysto to settle. The show jump track was BIG and in the main arena surrounded with many trade stands and the bar tent! This caused Crysto a bit of concern as fence 2 headed straight towards the many, many people outside the bar tent and he lost his concentration for a moment or too causing us to miss at the fence which upset him even further. I took a couple of seconds to regain myself and then we continued the remainder of the round clear.”

“So on to the cross country. Whilst walking it earlier in the day, there were a couple of fences causing trouble so I made sure to walk the lines a number of time so I knew exactly where I would be riding. The course was very, very big but looked absolutely amazing and I couldn't wait to get going. Crysto was amazing, he skipped round the course making it feel very easy until the third from last fence which was a bounce up two steps, with one stride at the top to a skinny chair. In hindsight I don't think I kept enough revs in the tank for Crysto to be able to manage the skinny at the top of the steps as sadly he came to a standstill, which resulted in being given 20 penalties. Still we completed probably the biggest track to date in the biggest atmosphere to date so definitely a good day.”

Crysto Rockingham
“Keysoe was next for Forrest, but because Popps had missed her runs both at Rockingham and Mattingley I managed another late entry in the Novice for her. This resulted in another overnight stay for us in the lorry rather than travelling home for the night. Popps warmed up well for the dressage in very windy conditions and produced an average test for her. She show jumped very well indeed but did encounter one rail on the way into one of the doubles as the hanging filler was conveniently swinging in the wind on our approach which obviously caught her eye and caused her to make a small mistake.”

“The cross country was a great course and Keysoe had done an amazing job of completely revamping all of their course. They were certainly now all big, bolder and more technical so needed more positive riding which I was looking forward to. We started as we meant to go on jumping the first 3 fences, which were big and shared with the Intermediate course! The fourth was a full coffin-style with skinny chest either side of the ditch but Popps made light work of that. The next a big hedge and ditch, again which although requiring a tiny bit of persuasion we sailed over it in fine style. The next combination had caused some problems for others, but somehow we sailed through. It involved a big roll top with brush, then a curving right 4/5 strides, off a large drop with a ditch behind it, then a very tight curving left turn to another roll top and brush. Feeling good at this point we approached the sunken road; a skinny rail, two strides then a step down, one stride across the bottom then a step up again. I could feel Popps hesitating as we headed towards the skinny, she popped that and then sadly ground to a halt at the top of the step. This is where our day ended as sadly Popps doesn't respond well once her concentration has lapsed so I held my hand up and walked home, gutted.”

“Forrest completely made up for it though as the following day he produced a lovely dressage test which the judge sadly didn't entirely agree on and scored us a 35.5. Forrest went on to produce another fantastic double clear inside the time to finish 6th around another testing course. To make things even harder, the second last combination was a house on a curving left turn, with 5 strides to a decent corner which I had heard caused some problems for others. I can only think that people weren't actually finishing their turn towards the corner and running out to the right. However as Forrest approached the corner I was horrified to see that the right hand flag was lying down completely on its side having obviously been knocked by the previous rider and not picked up by the fence judge! A testing fence for any young horse at the best of times but with no flag to help, made things even harder. Still I need not have worried as Forrest sailed over it without some much as a glance to the right to run out, ah bless him!”

“Two days later I had my trainer Lucy Thompson down for some more jump training with my team. She had been thinking a lot about Crysto's loss of concentration in the showjumping at Rockingham and had devised a new exercise for us to try involving big oxers on tight lines and then very upright verticals, which of course he completely nailed at home! This gave me some confidence for our forthcoming trip to Aston Le Walls two days later!”

“So back we were in the lorry again with Popps and Crysto trucking up the M1 having left at 5am to be there for 8am. Crysto produced a nice dressage just scuppered slightly by a certain Badminton rider passing me within touching distance as she prepared to enter her arena whilst I was actually doing mine! This caused a slight tense moment as our stirrups pretty much clinked together and Crysto spooked. I was not impressed I have to admit, as she was as far as possible away from the edge of her arena and pretty much in my arena. Not fair if you ask me but what could I do other than put it behind me and carry on!”

“The showjumping at Aston is always on a surface which is lovely however makes things very tight indeed which Crysto's doesn't do well with as it means everything is on top of each other and sure enough a loss of concentration caused yet another spook and again at the second fence (I can feel a pattern coming on here!) Having regrouped we continued our round the rest of the way clear. I felt confident setting off across country with only one slight concern, our nemesis fence, a full coffin which for some reason we have had problems at twice before. However that was not to be this time as we romped home with a perfect clear under our belt, albeit with handful of time penalties.”

“Popps was next in the Novice and again warmed up well to produce a better test than at Keysoe so things seem to be on the up again. She jumped a solid show jump round which is generally the easiest phase for her, but sadly we were caught out again on the cross country by the mound on the approach to the water so our day ended promptly again. This is rather gutting as Popps has so much scope to be an amazing jumping horse. It is hugely frustrating as she is not consistent in what types of fences worry her, so one day she will jump everything then the next she will decide that's not for her. Or even in the last two circumstances we have jumped a drop type fence and then the next fence has been similar but she decides against jumping the second time round. Her future is a little unsure at the moment, do I call it a day and cut my losses or do I continue her training and try to get through it, that is the question!?”

“Until next time, which will hopefully see good results at Little Downham and Stratford Hills before seriously prepping for Barbury International where Crysto will be contending the CIC 2*!”