Bobby Costello XC Lesson Recap

Sunday morning was cool and lovely, which was a relief after having survived the massive storm the night before, complete with intense lighting that almost made me spill my red wine into my lap and even a tornado watch.

The facilities at Winterbook Farm are immaculate, but obviously cater to a crowd much more experienced than Foster and I. Anything that was below Novice (as in 3 Novice fences) was placed in extremely technical positions (like after a one stride up a hill from the biggest freaking ditch you’ve ever seen in your life), so warming up was somewhat interesting.

The stunning Winterbook Cross Country field

The stunning Winterbook Cross Country field

Just like the day before, Bobby wanted to assess my position before actually jumping anything. Apparently I fooled him once again into thinking my leg was solid, but he encouraged me to press my knuckles into Foster’s neck and stay there between fences.  As obvious as this is, it’s hard for me still, as with dressage and showjumping I am ever seeking that straight hand-to-bit line and in XC this makes my hands float around in the atmosphere.

Case in point

Case in point

From there we warmed up over the one baby fence a couple times (NBD) and then aimed at a solid Novice coop, to which I asked for a flyer distance and instead got a shitty chip. Hello, confidence problems. I revisited the coop and told myself not to be a pansy, and it went much better.

The one thing I told him I wanted to look at was Foster’s launching off of banks and issues with drops into water. So we started with the bank complex, and discussed really sitting up straight and slipping the reins at the top- to which I nodded, yes, I’d heard that plenty of times. However, it turns out in execution I have come to expect a big move, which causes me to clutch at the top of the bank, which in turn makes Foster feel like he can’t use his neck and therefore he launches himself. How bout that perpetual cycle? Immediately when I actually slipped the reins and sat back he dropped very casually. We ended that segment by going up a steep hill, one stride to a down bank, then 2 or 3 strides to another down bank. Beautiful, done.

A better view of the course, with the Novice coop circled

A better view of the course, with the Novice coop circled

We popped over a couple ditches and Foster confirmed that ignoring all else, this horse is not ditchy. So we moved on to the water complex. Foster had trotted through it for warmup, so we started by jumping a small fence coming out of the water up a small hill. He did this fine, so we reversed and jumped the fence back into the water. Enter my commitment issues, stage right. While he scooted over it, I got some very stern words about being confident about it and so we went back through a few times, getting better and better.

When on our third attempt he jumped it boldly, we moved on to dropping off banks into water.

Ugh, water drops.

I’ll be completely honest, the trouble lies with me. I feel Foster debate the obstacle, and I hesitate. My hesitation turns into him stopping, and us dancing at the precipice of the bank with no clear way of getting down but to re-approach. With lots of coercion, we finally got in, and then repeated the process until it was coming easily. But when we moved on to a higher bank and included a super long approach, I had the exact same issues. Again on re-presenting we made it happen, but I need to be in the habit of thinking “do or die” rather than waffling. You don’t waffle over cross country obstacles.

More of this please, and less of that

More of this please, and less of that

We ended on a good note, but I’m eager to repeat the process until that cross-country grit comes back. I’ll be coming back to Southern Pines in a couple of weeks to try again, and I’m hopeful that in turn I will become bolder for the experience.

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11 thoughts on “Bobby Costello XC Lesson Recap

  1. Sounds like it was a great lesson and you got some good direction as to where to go from here with XC. Bobby is so great! I find I’m actually a LOT braver in competition because I HAVE to jump the jumps… stopping or circling to regroup is not an option! I know you’ll get it with more practice. 🙂

    • I’m much braver as well- those 20 points really hurt in competition! I definitely need to bring that game face to schooling situations 🙂

    • When they go well, all that crazy XC stuff is so fun! I know it won’t be long before the drops into water are blasé… Just gotta get there 🙂

  2. ugh ‘waffle’ is my middle name (and i’m also super guilty of hands out in the atmosphere – must remember to press my knuckles into neck!). sounds like and awesome lesson tho – and repetition will commit that feeling to muscle memory!

  3. OMG this looks so so so cool!!!! And it also sounds really productive- sometimes it just takes someone wording something differently or pointing out something a little different for that “aha!” moment to happen. That course looks gorgeous.

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