Watching it back, I'm absolutely still thrilled with his trot work. The judge generally agreed, giving me largely 6's and 7's, with her main comment being that he needs to be more uphill. She's right, he does. That is still an Intermediate frame and I need to get him to push more from behind and lift his withers more to obtain the Advanced frame. It's mainly a matter of building strength at this point.
The canter work wasn't nearly as bad as it felt. Obviously we picked up the incorrect lead, but I think in all likelihood I only gave him vague cues, and so he just picked a lead. I need to be certain to stick my left leg far back and leave my right firmly at the girth, something I can sometimes be lazy about. And then obviously, I got the flying change instead of walking again and picking up the correct lead. My bad, now I know. (Secretly, I just wanted to show off how awesome Dante's changes are. It was a preview, if you will.)
Obviously, he definitely lost his composure a bit after the medium canter. It didn't look as much as if he were running from me, but he was definitely a touch out of control. I felt as if we were careening around the short side. I think much of it had to do with the fact that I'd barely practiced any medium canter at all the previous two weeks, thinking that he was so confirmed in it that it didn't matter. Mental note to self: must practice medium canters so as to keep Dante bored with them!
All in all, I'm pretty happy with the test. I think we can knock five points off his score by a) pushing him more uphill and b) keeping composure in the trot work!
The stadium speaks for itself. It was awesome.
The cross country video is interesting as I didn't feel it was nearly as smooth as it looked. When running, I felt as if I were chipping in time after time to the galloping fences. In the video, it merely looks as if we are getting right to the base, without it being short. I'm gratified to know my eye wasn't nearly as off as I thought. Apparently I'm just picky about the definition of a perfect spot now!
The video also illustrated just how hard Dante looked at the bank bounce out of water. I definitely felt him suck back but at the time, no one watching seemed to notice and said they didn't see it. However, I can see a definite pause in Dante's demeanor exactly two strides through the water, and it caused us to be pretty far off the bank. I definitely need to keep that in mind, and ride harder through the water if the element out might give Dante pause.
And now, for your viewing pleasure, a photo comparison of Dante as a Beginner Novice horse and as an Advanced horse.
(Dante at May-Daze in 2007, where he won his first BN on a score of 26.4)
(Dante at Rocking Horse II in 2012, where he finished fourth at his first Advanced on a score of 44.1)