Victoria is back to full form

Victoria Bax is now well and truly back out eventing as she completes her first Intermediate track after her fall last year! Read her latest blog to find out how her team of Exrachorses are going...

"After our success at the British Dressage Regionals it was full steam ahead with my eventing hat back on.
 Crysto and Forrest took another trip out to Ely Eventing centre again for a second cross country schooling session for both of them. Forrest really stepped up to the mark and ended his session by jumping some of the BE100 combinations, pretty impressive I thought considering he has only so far competed in 2 BE80s.  His debut this year will be a 90cm class at an unaffiliated ODE at Aston le Walls which I am both excited and slightly cautious about as I am throwing him straight in at 90 level this year. I feel that he has come on so much through the winter that this should not be a problem for him but as they say anything could happen!  He will go out one more time for a last cross country schooling session before the event just to remind him what he has to do. Crysto was bold as brass and very mature and took everything in his stride as he does."

"Great Witchingham was our first planned event for Popps and Crysto; Popps in the BE100 and Crysto in his first attempt back at Open Novice level since our accident. However, the week before this we managed to find our new dream lorry, the only snag being that it was currently in Northern Ireland! To cut a long story short we were that impressed with it that we sent a mechanic over to check it out for us and after being given the all clear from him that it was all in good working order, my husband Jason took the 8.15am flight out to Belfast the day before Great Witchingham. He met up with the seller, checked the lorry over again, handed over the money and off he drove into the sunset to start his 600 mile journey to bring Stan, the MAN (the lorry) back home. He arrived at Dublin port on the Thursday afternoon, ready for the evening sail. He docked at Holyhead about half past midnight now going into Friday (the day of Great Witchingham) and then drove the 7 hours journey home and arrived at 7.45am. A quick turnaround then ensued moving all my kit from the old lorry to the new lorry and by 11am we had set off with two horses on board to Great Witchingham in our new lorry, this time with me driving so my husband could get some sleep!

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"We had mixed results with Popps running late on the Friday afternoon. Despite warming up well for the dressage she did not manage to hold herself together for the test and gained a score of 41 which was a little disappointing. She then jumped a beautiful show jumping round sadly breathing on a rail which rolled. So onto the cross country where she produced a lovely clear and confident round with just a couple of time faults, but sadly no placings for her. Crysto was up early the following day so after out first sleep in the new lorry we had owned for just 36 hours we performed a lovely test for a score of 29, then a beautiful double clear to finish in 3rd place, just behind pro riders Mark Kyle and Piggy French. I was absolutely thrilled for both Crysto and myself for both our confidence while making our way round the course, our first Novice run in nearly a year."

"Our next planned run was the following week at Goring Heath which was originally planned as a one day, but after receiving my times and then realising the clocks went forward the night before I would have had to leave at 3am so I thankfully managed to find stabling at a local yard nearby which meant we didn't need to leave there until 6.00am a much more respectable time, plus it meant another exciting night in our new lorry!
 So I settled the horses into the lovely big stables while Jason cooked dinner in the lorry using all the fab few facilities we had, little things please little minds!"

"The following day we arrived at the horse trials at 7am.  I immediately ran off to walk the cross country course and was lucky enough to catch up with Jeanette Breakwell so ended up walking with her and grabbing a few tips from her too. The course was definitely going to be testing for Popps at least being her first step up to Novice level.  There were plenty of combinations, skinnies and questions for a track of that level and the first major one coming as early as fence 4, a skinny brush fence, with three strides to a huge drop on the side of a hill so the ground ran away from you making the drop even bigger! At the bottom of the hill came the water at fence 5, which included a log drop, 3 strides across the water, a bounce up 2 steps then a 4 stride left curve to a skinny roll top! Crysto was up first producing a solid dressage test for a score of 33. He show jumped beautifully until the second from last fence where I completely missed causing him to take out the pole, but managed to maintain himself to finish over the planks just 5 strides after.  So kicking myself I set off cross country with him.  He was bold and confident as he should be at this level, until I made a huge error and again missed my line from the step up to a skinny angled brush and sadly we ran straight passed it.  As our chances of a placing had now completely gone, I finished the course but at a hacking speed so as not to cause any unnecessary strain to his legs.  Gutted is an understatement, what a complete fool I had been and really felt like I had let my top boy down. That aside I had to refocus and get Popps ready for her Novice debut.  I was pleased with her dressage warm up and indeed her test too, which she really tried in.  Sadly the judge was a little mean in my eyes and only scored her a 42.5.  So onto the showjumping where Popps produced a polished clear.  This is the easiest phase for her so I was kind of hoping she would!  As we made our way down to the cross country course I ran through the course in my head and went over and over the line I was going to ride at that damn step up to skinny brush. 5 minutes later I was absolutely over the moon to report back that Popps had just produced a clear and very confident round in her first novice event, with just a handful of time penalties which I wasn't at all worried about at this stage.  To top the day off by Popps jumping a double clear at Novice level meant that she had just earned her first BE point! So I can honestly say I now have a second successful BE Novice level Exracehorse!"

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"Our next trip was 6year old Forrest's debut of the year. After the successful two unaffiliated 80classes he did at the end of last season as his taster for Eventing I decided to move him straight out to the 90 class, so off we trekked to Aston le Walls. Forrest was lovely and calm through out the day and I was very pleased with his attitude. He scored a fabulous 26 for his dressage which put us right up there at the top of the leader board. We then had a bit of a baby green moment in the show jumping between fences one and two which were both heading towards the entrance. He seemed to lose his concentration and slipped off to the right a little. As I corrected this I only had about 2 strides left until the fence, so sadly he didn't quite make the required height over the fence and took the rail out with him, but then continued on a lovely round.  The cross country course, he simply ate up!  There were no hesitations or green moments, and he coped with the whole course including a tricky combinations made so by the undulating ground and a decent corner fence which did have an alternative but we aimed and flew beautifully over it without error.  The result of our performance put us in 12th place out of a good sized class, so I was very pleased, frustrated about our green moment show jumping but for his first event of the season he was fab."

"Next up was my return to Intermediate level with my top boy Crysto.  So we headed down to South of England show ground with both Popps and Crysto on board. Popps was up first but sadly found the dressage all too exciting resulting in a 41.5 score.  I have to be honest it wasn't our day as something clearly upset her in the show jumping which resulted in rather a cricket score which is absolutely not Popps, as she finds the show jumping the easiest phase.  I wonder if maybe she got her tongue over the bit as she completely dropped out of any form of contact early on in the round? So rather apprehensively I set out on the cross country course, knowing that there were a few ditch fences we had to contend with, which are her weakest link.  We stormed the round the course making light work of the huge ditch and palisade fence and the many combinations, however two fences from home the roll top jumping into the quarry caught her out as at the last second before take off she spotted the ditch on the landing side, as the ground ran away down after the roll top so it was not visible until the last second. Sadly she point blank refused to go near this and told me so by standing straight up on two legs.  I knew at that point there was no point arguing and retired, saved for another day.  So on paper it wasn't her best day but as this was only her second novice event I was pleased with how she had performed round 3/4 of the course, the rest is work in progress!"

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"Crysto warmed up beautifully and produced a decent dressage test of 29.6. The show jumping course was of a very decent size and extremely technical so I was very pleased that my trainer Lucy Thompson was there to walk it with me.  I had nothing to worry about though as Crysto performed a beautiful round just breathing on the middle part of a huge short strided distance which many people had more faults at than me! I will be honest I was a little apprehensive going into the cross country warm up, but again I had nothing to worry about as Crysto made light work of the course to storm round and finish clear with some time penalties which sadly put us out of the placings.  There were tears from me though as at this point I knew I had properly made my comeback from my accident last year and to feel Crysto being so bold and completely back to his normal self over the bigger track made my year so far."