Bruce returned for the YEH judging portion of the USEA Educational Symposium and was ridden by British Olympian Leslie Law. It was a great experience, because not only did I get to hear Leslie's opinion on him, I got to hear what the YEH judges thought and what I needed to work on. Leslie warmed him up and then proceeded to take him over a mock YEH course, so that the judges could really work on the new scoring system.
The first fence, Bruce scored a 2.5. The highest possible score over each fence was a 3. The second one he became a little unfocused, pulled a rail, and scored a 1. The next fence in the line scored a 2.5, and the following two show jumps (shown in the video above) scored between a 2.5 and 3. As did the first cross country fence. The second fence scored a 2 as he landed flat and on the forehand. The third cross country fence, a little coop, scored a 2.5-3 and he galloped onto to the trakhaner. He scored a 2-2.5 there, not for lack of jump but he switched his lead right before the fence. He turned and hopped over a coop, scored a 2.5-3, and through the water, out over the bank where he scored a 2-2.5 because he lacked impulsion. Over a small log galloping away, scoring a 3, and over a roll top to a ditch. Scored a 2.5 there because he just skimmed over the ditch and they would like to see a slight notice of the ditch, not just skimming over it. The final part was the gallop where he scored a 7.5 out of 10, as he started to gallop on the forehand.
Moving on with rideability, he scored a 7-7.5 out of 10. Just with him being slightly on the forehand, I have to work on that before he achieves the gallop he truly needs. General presence scored a 7.5. They then put Leslie on the mic for him to talk a little bit on his opinion after riding him. He discussed working on his rideability, getting him lighter off his forehand but really complimented his jump, and how it is rather effortless and he comes right up to your chest. He proceeded to say that while this horse will never be a winner after dressage, but said cross country is going to be his strongest phase. After I get him muscled properly he is going to be a completely different horse. Leslie gave him a huge compliment that made me incredibly happy. He said after a few years this you will not recognize this horse. He is going to be a great horse for a young rider to take up the levels. If he was a professionals horse in a big barn he would be passed over because he is going to take time. But taking that time, I wouldn't be surprised to see a young rider take him through the advanced/3* level. That was one of the biggest votes of encouragement I could receive, and I plan on taking some lessons with Leslie now in the future, and really working to obtain the best from him that I can.
Overall he was phenomenal and after a hard day yesterday too I am not surprised he is slightly tired. He gets to take the day off tomorrow before a light flat school on Friday and then off to Three Lakes HT on Saturday.
I had the amazing opportunity, yet again, to be a demo rider in the USEA ICP Symposium. The focus this year was teaching how to teach riders and young event horses. I rode with Leslie Law in the symposium today, riding alongside Maya Black, Caroline Martin, and Amy Moreshead. It is one of the best experiences and I would highly recommend it.
Bruce was the youngest and greenest horse in the group I was riding in but that didn't stop us from learning a ton. We started over a small course, because Leslie wanted all the horses minds thinking forward. He said "One of the worst things about cross country schooling in groups is it is just stand still and then go and stand still then go." So he fixed that issue. I had a little problem with getting Bruce, whom is notoriously lazy, in front of my leg which resulted in a stop. So we really worked on getting him to gallop and move forward. We moved onto jumping a roll top, looping back around and jumping a narrow wedge fence. The wedge had rails on it to help guide young horses in. Bruce didn't completely understand it so it took him a few tries to figure it out. Something to definitely work on at home. One of my biggest faults there was that I would collapse my defensive position in anticipation of the jump, instead of waiting for him to come to me.
Next we switched to the down banks, where we had to collect, but then push forward again. We started small, made the bank bigger, and then incorporated a jump before the bank, but slowly built up, and didn't immediately send the horse at a jump to a bank. My biggest problem was landing and staying straight, so Leslie had me do it again, aiming straight at him over the fence and down the bank. That helped a lot, but I know what needs to be done there as well. I have a bad habit of not having an independent upper body and lower leg, separated from each other, so that is another key thing for me to work on to help Bruce be the best he can be. We switched to a ditch, which Bruce skipped right over and Leslie had us gallop away from the ditch so that even though we collected before he was moving forward and not falling behind my leg.
The final exercise we did was dropping into water. First we trotted up a small bank out of the water, after we introduced the horses to the water. We trotted up and then turned around and cantered down the same bank. We then made a bending line over a small roll top out of the water. Bruce fell behind my leg so got a little sticky the first time to the bank and we used an opening between two small logs to encourage him down it. The second time, he jumped over the log into the water, which I ended up falling forward again so we will definitely be working on upper body control!
A great experience for Bruce today and tomorrow Leslie will ride him the YEH Demo so I am super excited for that. Then onto Three Lakes HT this weekend.