Victoria Bax Blog – Good times and sad

Image credit Thoroughbred Sports Photography

Courtesy of Victoria’s sponsors Aloeride & Golly Galoshes



“So after coming back down to earth after realising that Crysto and I had actually qualified for the British Novice Championships at Gatcombe, it was time to start preparing for Barbury International CIC2*, out first FEI event of the year.  Barbury is an absolute favourite of mine.

I arranged a couple of extra dressage lessons with my trainer Tina Atkins at her local yard in order that I could run through the dressage test in a full size arena.  After the second lesson I was very pleased with how Crysto worked and there was nothing I could do other than keep everything crossed that he could contain his excitement for the 5 minutes required, not too much to ask I don’t think!

I made a visit to my local BS venue as well to have a practise round show-jumping and we managed a lovely double clear to finish 4th in the Newcomers and in prize money too!
I also arranged a couple of extra jumping lessons with Lucy Thompson which all went well.
Wednesday came so Crysto and I were trucking off to Wiltshire.  It is about 4 hours from me so a fair distance.  We left about 9am in order to get there for lunchtime.  The journey went smoothly and before long we were there and settled in before giving Crysto a spin around the gallops three times to release some of his energy.  Later in the day Lucy had arrived to give us both a drilling of our dressage test and after another hour of work Crysto finally started to settle, so we left it at that and settled down for the evening.
The following morning was an early start, I was up and onboard by 6.30am taking another trip around the gallops, again to try to wear him out a bit and to encourage him to relax before putting him away again for an hour.  My test was at 8.43am so before long I was back on board again.  The warm up area was on a bit of a slope (which I don’t think Crysto liked that much) but it was the closet area I could get to the actual arena so we had to make do.  He never did quite settle before it was my time to go in so all I could do was my best.  Unfortunately luck wasn’t on my side because as I rode around the arena before making my turn up the centre line, one of the trade stands directly next to the arena decided to raise one of their flags straight up in the air in front of us, which of course completely took Crysto’s attention from me to them and sadly that was the way of things to come for the whole test.  To say I was disappointed is an understatement as we actually came out with the worst score we have ever got, so not a good start to our Barbury experience this year.



The rest of the day was not nice as I couldn’t stop thinking about the test and the whys and wherefore’ of what happened etc.
I had a day off the following day as I didn’t jump until Saturday so I made the most of watching the CIC3* dressage trying to pick up some tips!  I was amazed just how many horses had a melt down just like Crysto, which did make me feel a little better that it happens to others, not just me!


Saturday finally came, another early start as I was second to jump at 8.02am!  I had walked the showjumping course 3 times the night before and it was big, very technical with long distances and undulations in the ground.  However we went in and did our very best.  I was pleased with Crysto and how he jumped but the track was just a bit too technical for us and caught us out for some rails.  I will be honest, I was very glad that was over!


So onto the cross-country  I headed down to the start expecting to be second to go again, but to my horror saw that my number was first on the board.  I can only assume that the rider before me in the Sj had other rides and so was running xc later on, which left me to be the pathfinder round a decent CIC2* track, ahhhhhhhh!

Image credit Thoroughbred Sports Photography
Image credit Thoroughbred Sports Photography

I had nothing to worry about though as Crysto made light work of the course and hopped round like it was a BE90 course.  I didn’t go for the time as obviously I was nowhere near the top end of the leaderboard so just enjoyed a confident run.
Crysto finished full of running and has recovered very easily.  Another CIC2* completion under our belt, just not quite the result we wanted.


Once home again, I knew things were on the change, as just before going away, a client of mine had asked me to help her find a new event horse for the grassroots level as her previous one had proved very unreliable and tricky for her.  Of course I said yes and the search began.  I mentioned this to Jason my husband and his immediate answer was what about Forrest?
I hadn’t even given young Forrest a thought, but Jason and I had talked about the possibility of finding Forrest a new home at the end of the season because he was reaching his comfortable limit with me and I didn’t think it fair to push him our of his comfort zone.


I suggested this to my client and the rest as they say is history!  She came and tried him 3 times got on very well with him, then to top it off he sailed through a 5 stage vetting with a glowing report from the vet and before I knew it I was delivering him to his new home!
This is a very very sad and difficult decision to have made but definitely the right one I am confident about that.  He really is one genuine, honest and reliable horse at the grassroots level but to push him further up the levels where I would like to get to just wasn’t for him.  I am very lucky in that I am still going to be seeing him and training him regularly and I can’t wait to watch his progress with his new owner who keeps updating me with her progress.  She can’t believe how much her confidence has grown already in such a short space of time and this is all down to the lovely Forrest.  I couldn’t be prouder of how far he has come in the 3 years I have trained him and I wish them both all the luck for the future.

So with Forrest gone, the youngster definitely had to start stepping up to the mark, so both Tilly and Milli were entered in a local unaffiliated dressage with clear round jumping after.  This was to be Tilly’s first proper party so anything could happen!  However, she behaved impeccably apart from being rather vocal during the warmup and spooking at the white boards to start with!  She did some fabulous trot work which earnt her all 8’s, then we wobbled a little on the canter but we finished the test with a very respectable score of 66.8%.

Milli was up next and this was only her second dressage test.  She produced an accurate and smoother test than previously and scored 65%.  So the final result was Tilly finished 3rd and Milli 5th.They both then jumped a small round of show jumps confidently which is a big step forward for them both, so all in all a good educational outing for them both.

Lastly, the weekend just gone saw Crysto out again running at Aston le Walls in the Intermediate class.  I have never had such late times, my dressage was at 4.12, Sj at 6.07 and xc at 6.43pm and this venue is 120 miles away from home, so you can imagine what time we got home!Crysto produced a fair test with one error to score 34, the showjumping caught us out again for a couple of rails round another tuff, tight and twisty track and the cross-country required riding as there were a few tricky skinny combinations which Crysto made light work of, until we reached the second water which was a decent one strided double of brushes dropping straight into the water, 3 strides to another brush on the way out.  I knew I would have to ride positively to the first, which I did and we jumped this confidently however, I think he then caught sight of the water and landed shorter requiring me to kick like mad to try and make up the one stride distance which we did to a degree and then lept!  The photos show this well as I am truly hanging out the side door over the second brush and upon landing in the water, but somehow, mostly due to my experienced  horse he stayed straight and knew there was a third fence to jump which we did and through the finish clear again!


We finally made it home about 10.30pm on Saturday night.  We made a quick turnaround though as Tilly and Milli were due to be cross-country schooling again the following day but the weather forecast wasn’t looking good so we thought we would try to beat the rain.  We managed to leave home at 7am the next day allowing me to be onboard at a local xc venue by 8.30am.  Tilly jumped very well once she remembered what she had to do and I was very pleased with her.  Milli on the other hand took plenty of riding to get her round.  She maybe a year older but is nowhere near as bold as Tilly and questions everything I ask of her.  However, when she does it, she does it phenomenally well which is what keeps me trying with her.  We shall see!
A regular flow of schooling liveries are still keeping me busy on a day to day basis along with the many lessons I undertake with clients old and new.
Our next stop will be another outing for Tilly and Milli and our Gatcombe debut, so until next time…”

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