It dried out enough in the backwoods of Maine to hold the cross country portion of the Steuart Pittman clinic outside. The footing was wet, but not muddy, and I am afraid Brego and I damaged the field pretty badly during our rides. The big boy is tough on wet turf.
Steuart was in his usual good-natured, positive role. He was very upbeat and funny with all the riders and had a great eye for balance and soft feel. I am really impressed with him. If I had infinite money and time, I would try to work with him more privately because in a group clinic setting, your time is limited and the focus is not as critical.
In general, I felt really loose in the tack and pretty run down. I am beginning to think I am fighting some cold off. I've felt a little run down all week and it definitely showed in my riding. I went right back to squatty, toes out, fall back in the saddle riding. Brego felt my vibe as well and was a consistent 20% behind my leg at all times. The only time we could get a nice jump out of him was when Steuart placed his baseball cap on the jump. Then Brego sat up and paid attention.
We had some trouble finding out way around the big water puddles, so our finale course was broken into "pre-water screwup" and "post-water screwup". In the first half, we were rocking. I felt like we had a good rhythm and Brego was jumping nicely out of stride, even with my sloppy position. The second half was definitely harder going with stickier fences. We lost our rhythm and impulsion and then we just scrambled around the rest of the course. I can't complain too much, Brego echoed how I felt. I just didn't feel like we were "on".
Steuart was very happy with Brego and, once again, I got some nice feedback from him. He said not to stress too much about him putting his head down before fences. I have been worried about it, even enough to post on COTH. He said he was just looking at the fence and to not try to correct it unless Brego then had trouble getting off the ground. From what he could see, he thought he was fine and it was even desirable to have a horse look down at the fence and then use his neck and shoulders to lift off. It meant he was paying attention, like he should, but still using himself well. You do not want a flat jumper who never uses their neck or looks where he is going.
He also really liked Brego's form when we rode well. He brought up he knees and used his back. He said he was very honest and looked much more experienced and confident than last time he saw him. He asked me when I was going to take him Novice and I said late next year maybe. He thought that sounded really good.
So all in all, Brego put in a solid performance and was a very steady ride, even in extremely wet grass. I was not at the top of my game and it showed, but it was still great to get Steuart's feedback.