Here are some general observations, based on what I know about you and your progress from looking at a lot of your videos and reading a lot of your posts. Bear in mind that I didn’t see the videos of THIS show, and that these are general comments.
Cinny does not accept contact with the bit. Period. Last video I saw, he moved from above the bit to behind the bit, without ever pausing in between to reach forward into the contact. He acts almost as if he’s afraid of the contact, which may be a relic of his old, bad western training. It’s as if you’re offering him a firm handshake (dressage contact) and he’s afraid to take your hand because you have a joy buzzer in it.
The purpose of Training Level, stated right there at the top of the test form, is "To confirm that the horse is supple and moves freely...accepting contact with the bit."
You may recall that some months ago, when you proposed moving up to Training Level, I advised against it. This is why.
Now, he may have improved considerably since the last video I saw of him. But I don’t see the point of taking a horse out at Training Level until they’re really working consistently on the aids at home for an entire test. At a schooling show, a judge might disregard a horse coming above the bit during canter departures or other transitions, but only if they recover in a stride or two, and only if the rest of the foundation appears correct.
A 56% is not a bad test score by any means; it almost exactly what I would have anticipated.. It means mostly 6s on the movements. The comments on the test that you copied seem to indicate that Cinny has improved slightly, but that he’s still not accepting the contact. (Lacks connection, not round, above the bit, fussy on the bit, etc.) It is not possible to break 60 at Training Level without the horse consistently moving forward into the contact. To break 70 at Training Level, they have to really demonstrate using their hind end and moving through the back and be very correct in all the movements. If you blow a movement, you better have great gaits or moments of brilliance to make up for it.
I have no idea what the person saw who lead you to believe a score in the 60s or 70s was possible, it was certainly radically different than anything I’ve seen. And ultimately, she didn’t do any favors by setting you up for disappointment.
Far from the judges not liking you, I think you got a little credit for being on a cute, appealing horse and being impeccably turned out.
Finally, I think it will take some work with a really, talented and tactful professional to get Cinny working correctly on the aids. You have to decide if that’s worthwhile for you. Letting Cinny be a good looking, pleasure, trail or local show horse is a perfectly reasonable option.
ETA: It's not about topline. It's about accepting the bit; and the previous bad training you will have to overcome to get him there.
Last edited by maura; 05-23-2012 at 11:14 AM.