I am not an 'expert' in hunte derbies, though I have been watching them because I think my mare will do well in them once we are ready... so...
The fact that he doesn't move like a hunter isn't so bad in a derby, and that he's sparkly is a good thing! Very cute expression! I think your number one problem may have been his lack of straightness and quickness off the ground and in unfolding and hitting the ground. His form faltered a bit here and there too.
Again, I am not expert, trying to figure out some of the judging I've seen, which leaves me scratching my head, when normally I can place a class pretty well.
First, you are a lovely rider. Soft and secure, good eye and I can see you thinking your way around the course. A good brain is so important and can't really be taught. You've done a lot of homework!
Your horse has a cute jump, but doesn't appear to be overly challenged by the fence height. I wonder if you move him up if he will hold his form better?
I agree with alto that more flat work, including lateral work, will help with his approach and keeping straight. Being attuned to your leg is important for both the hunters and jumpers, so it's not time wasted no matter what you pursue.
Beautiful horse- what is he? Just quickly- you look like a quiet, soft rider for him and I mostly see that he is quite crooked. Like others have mentioned- flatwork flatwork flatwork...or dressage...whichever you prefer to call it.
Shoulder in, haunches in, leg yields, flying changes on a straigt line, counter canter on a circle (start with a larger circle and work on eventually making it smaller), spiral in, spiral out, canter transitions to walk on a circle (canter 5 steps, walk 5 steps and so on) and oddly enough, lots of walking - keeping him straight at a walk is HARD - regular walk, medium walk, extended walk.
I watched your video before reading your post and the first thing I thought is that he is adorable with his front end but would probably look better at higher jumps or in the jumpers. If you want to continue in the hunters try some lengthening flat work to get him a little longer and lower. I think you could do a lot of different things with him and have fun...he is SUPER cute!
No critique of your "speed" but I will comment on your rhythm, which is a bit quick. In this video, your (gorgeous) horse appears to Sit, S*$#, and git the last three strides before each fence. I can't tell if it's just because he's a bit peeky and unsure or if that's his normal MO.
Agree with the stuff others have said as well about exercises, straightness etc.
I wouldn't attempt an International level hunter derby with your concern for the entry fee if it's just for fun UNTIL you work on straightness. He may have a better jump, but you can work on straightness at lower heights first- it'll save his legs and you won't have to worry about the jump, just the before and after. Like others have said; spirals in and out, serpentines, shoulder-in's, haunches-in's, counter canters, leg yields, all those things will make him focus on moving off your leg exactly when you want it and how far. So when you approach a fence and feel that wiggle/drift, you can immediately fix it and get that response you want. Best thing to do would be to take some dressage lessons. Doesn't matter if you do hunters or jumpers, good dressage fundamentals are VERY important! It will make your horse so much more rideable.
I agree, he drifts right over just about every fence.
And the two of you appear to be bracing against each other. He never gets a release from you as far as I can see. It looked like your hands were planted on him, not sure if it's because he is a strong boy who pulls or if you are concerned about his speed, but I think with a release he might have a better jump and use himself better. I'm just regurgitating what I've read in GM articles .
Not trying to toot my own horn, but I personally think I release. I don't do a long release, as he would take off happily after each jump; however, I do a crest release the proper amount for the height of the jump. This is what I personally see from watching the video again, anyone else?
I agree with the above poster who said you're rhythm was quick. The pace per se was nice but it seemed a bit harried and rushed. He does jump pretty quickly so that may be part of it. Also, there were some times where you dropped your shoulders at the not so perfect distance which also added to the rushed/harried feeling. He didn't really use himself well over these fences but that's probably just because of the height and he could just canter over them.
I also have a really hard time with straightness over the jumps. The biggest thing for me is to make sure I'm straight coming out of the corner. If I don't get my horse off my left leg around the corner, she will always jump left. Getting straight out of the corner has really helped me be straight over the fence and landing. Also counter bending on the straight sides on the flat helps me to focus on how much I'm not normally getting straight out of the corners on the flat.
OP, I watched some of your other videos with this horse in addition to the one you posted in this thread. First of all, I think he's really cute (I love a big chunky horse who always has his ears up, it's just adorable). I also think he looks like fun to ride, especially in your jumper videos.
For sure, you need to do a lot of work on straightness, regardless of what you're showing in. In a bunch of your videos, you lose the distance because you wobble in front of the jump. Similarly, your pace changes a lot when you line up with the jump. Even in the jumpers, you're bound to be faster if you can be smoother. I think having a rail on the take-off and landing side of the fence, maybe about 8 feet out would help you to keep him straight. You said he drifts right, so I'd place it perpendicular to the jump slightly to the right of center.
More flatwork. You need to work on being more invisible, which you'll be able to do if you work on transitions and making them perfect. Also, go with the suggestions that other people have made about lateral work. You said "however, he is a jumper" and I'm not sure what you're getting at; flatwork is crucial for being successful in the jumpers, especially once you're getting past the height that can just be stepped over.
I do think you could give him a bigger release in the hunters. I paused your video a few times in midair and it looked to me like you were getting really close to stiffing him in the air. He might just jump hollow over small fences anyway - I did see him jumping better in some of your jumper rounds - but you might be able to make it a little better if you give a more generous release. The twisting in the air is something you need to work on regardless of division.
The rhythm and way of going are an issue if you want to be competitive in the hunters. He doesn't look the part. He looks like fun to ride and I bet he's really competitive in the jumpers because he's careful, but he's too scuttley to be competitive as a hunter, at least right now. If you want to work on that, I'd really concentrate on having one rhythm off the turn to the fence, but part of it may be the way he goes. He goes like a jumper. There's nothing wrong with that, but it doesn't pin well in the hunters.
Like I said, I think he's cute and I'm more than willing to bet that you have an absolute blast in the jumpers with him, but I don't think the hunter division is his calling .
As an example of a jumper who does the derbies successfully, look at this video of Triompf and Holly Shepherd. He goes like a hunter, very level and sloooow off the ground. He also does the Grands Prix classes and does well in those, but notice his pace, the tempo of his canter, and how smoooooth the whole thing is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnO-x-3L4_Q