Today was the first real jumping of the season. We set up a bounce to a one stride that could be ridden both ways. We started with the poles on the ground and just cantered through, working on striding and adjustability. Then we put up cross rails and finally finished at 2'3". The grid was certainly not challenging, but for our first day out, I wanted to see what we remembered, if anything.
I'll just cut to the chase and I say I was very pleased with Brego. His brain is 100% there from last year, didn't skip a beat, completely understood the question, was forward and willing. My position was about 80% from last year. My lower body was ok, my release was fine, but I did tend to duck too much over such small fences. Brego was a little sticky getting into the canter, and he wanted to do his little dressage canter. So when I pushed him forward into a little more, he really didn't understand. He thought I was just pushing to push, I think. It wasn't until a couple of times through the grid that he started to understand he needs a little more.
But even with what he had, he felt so much better than last year. I can actually say, with no self delusion, that his canter was adjustable. I could easily compress it, but not as much extend it, but even compressed he kept his impulsion. He didn't quit at the fences. Last year, he didn't refuse, but he lost 10% at a fence and over a grid, that adds up. Well today, there was no quitting, in fact he would finish stronger. Not longer and sprawled out all over the place, but bigger, more "up".
Another big difference was when I blew the entry, he reached for the distance. He did not chip once. And he did not do the creepy front foot tap thing that got us into trouble last year.
So all in all, I felt like Brego was good, very interested, very keen to fences. He needs a little more work on getting that canter going from the start, and obviously, we need more fitness. But, coming from Texas and the 12 month schooling schedule, I am absolutely floored by how little he has lost over the winter, both mentally and physically. Yes, he is too heavy for serious competition, but he did the grid probably 10 times today and never broke a sweat and certainly never felt any tiredness.
He felt so good, I had to consciously stick to my plan and quit early, since it was our first time jumping. He felt like he had plenty of gas in the tank.
We've got a schooling three phase at the end of the month and I think he's going to be just fine for it.