Sunday, August 7, 2011

Clinic Time

Bobby Costello working with a student at the August 2nd clinic.
Picture courtesy of Eleazer Davis Farm.

A couple weeks ago, one of the ladies from the barn asked if I wanted to head to a clinic with her. I love going to clinics, so I was in before I even knew who was teaching. Stadium clinic with Bobby Costello? Sounded like a great way to spend the day.

We loaded up the princess and Mr. Lips to head to Eleazer Davis Farm in Bedford, MA. It was hot and sunny with the threat for storms later in the day, but Smart Pak was there to provide lunch and lots of cold drinks. There was also a raffle for saddle pads and a spiffy bridle, but I never have luck with those things. There was already a class going when we arrived and we settled in to watch a couple rounds.

If I had to summarize what Bobby wants to see in stadium, I would say a forward, positive ride that's proactive. When a rider came into a one stride underpowered, he described that canter as having no options. She couldn't move up or ease off, since she didn't have the power to make a change. That definitely stuck out as an interesting thought. You need a powerful, forward canter in order to have options.

Bobby's a positive teacher, quick to yell 'excellent ride' when a rider deserves it. He's also not afraid to let a rider know when there's a problem. As he told one rider, 'you're riding like you're on a Jamaican vacation!'. Fortunately, that wasn't me. I got comments about 'the jumps are on this end of the ring, there's nothing over there, where are you going?'. Accuracy is very important. If he's looking for a five stride, do not jump it in a four or a six.

Or in the case of Fiona, bounce through a one stride. I got a laugh for that one. He has a particular laugh for when an exercise catches a pair out.

The jumping started out with gymnastics, then moved on to courses. Most of the horses settled in nicely to the gymnastic, jumping well with set poles forcing them to really use their bodies. Fiona is not very good at gymnastics, but she held it together to manage a one stride to a two stride combination. Bobby had no idea what an accomplishment that was for her. Before we could move up to a grid with a bounce, Mother Nature decided to interfere.

We were the last group of the day and the promised thunderstorms decided to arrive with a good dose of fury. We had to scramble for the indoor when we spotted lightening and had to take cover for about thirty minutes while the wind howled and thunder rumbled. Eventually they moved jumps up to the indoor so our group could finish. I appreciated Eleazer Davis Farm for managing to make the best of the mess, and Bobby for continuing on like nothing had happened despite the massive disruption.

The analogy that was used for the princess was that she's like a sling shot. When she gets wound and I hold her too tightly, that's like hauling a sling shot all the way back. When I release to a fence, she just explodes. I need to bring her back and let go over and over until she can learn to balance herself and not explode over fences. He also thought she was very attractive, so I was a happy camper. Fiona had a little crush on him, nudging his arm whenever he was in reach to get him to pet her. She was quite adorable and put in a good show of what she's capable of, both her explosive side and her talented side.

A huge thank you to Eleazer Davis Farm for a well run clinic (and ice cream!), Smart Pak for a delicious lunch, my friend for giving us a ride to the clinic, and Bobby for his advice and patience when the princess decided to have one of her mini-meltdowns in the middle of our lesson. We got a lot out of it, and hopefully we'll get another chance to ride with him again. There are pictures of the clinic (none of us due to the weather) and the new ring on Facebook.

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