Becoming The Best – How Top Riders Made It To The Top
This past weekend was the Stoneleigh-Burnham Horse Trials in Greenfield MA. My horse and I tackled our first Prelim as a team, and I could not have been more thrilled with Rollo. The trials were admittedly an emotional roller coaster for me. I was not feeling 100% and couldn’t pinpoint whether the symptoms were a byproduct of my nerves, or if I was actually coming down with something.
Saturday night, after I tucked in my horse in stabling, I went back to my trailer, tucked myself in my cozy gooseneck, and started revisiting the preliminary cross country course in my mind. I was quite nervous for the large and airy trakehner on course as well as the water complex. In the end, my horse erased any nerves I previously had and showed me that he is a true competitor who knows his job. We both felt incredibly confident throughout the course.
This weekend made me realize now, more than ever, that we all have strengths and weaknesses as top riders, competitors, professionals, and as amateurs. The question is, how do we handle these weaknesses and do we capitalize on our strengths as often as we should?
I asked some of our own Success Equestrian top riders to share their greatest strengths and weaknesses to help encourage those of us out there looking to improve our game. Hope you enjoy!
Emily Donaldson talks about her experience and ability to handle stress.
“As a rider something I struggle with is my inexperience. I don’t have a lot of experience at FEI, or competing in CDI’s, so I will often doubt my ability and compare myself to other riders my age, or those even younger than I am. I tend to be a cautious trainer, taking a slower approach, and I also wonder if it’s why I also maybe haven’t advanced more horses up the levels.
A strength would be my ability to work under pressure. I think one of the reasons I work well with horses, but in particular young horses, is my calm demeanor. When I train horses I’m extremely focused and perceptive, but I’m also even keeled. I have pretty strong nerves, but I think I hide it well to those around me, including the horse. My husband thinks I have nerves of steel and compliments me on how well I handle pressure.”
Amber Harte on feeling the pressure and rising to the task.
“My greatest weaknesses are fighting constantly to be sure that I am balanced. I struggle to keep myself symmetrical and straight. Another weakness is having the exact hands that George wants. He wants you to have a feel and be off the reins in one step. Sometimes I take a feel and keep it for too many strides. I’ve also had to work on going more forward through the turns on the jumpers.
Some strengths are being able to be successful on both the hunters as well as jumpers. Another strength is the more pressure there is present, the more I tend to rise to the task. I love pressure. It keeps me interested. One last strength is loving the animals enough to compete and train with them using compassion, trust and understanding rather than force or threat or harm.”
Courtney Cooper explains her journey and her persistence to succeed.
“I believe my best qualities are that I’m resilient and persistent. There have been times when I’ve had my back up against the wall several times from injuries—both to myself and my horses—or changes in life, and I have always persisted to continue striving for my goals. I take the time to focus on goals, and decide on a plan, that may need to be altered to reach those goals.
At times I can be very singular in my mindset. I know that my persistence can sometimes be exhausting to those around me. I came into this business a little later in life than some, having had another full-time career prior to starting C Square Farm. And while I try to write down realistic short- and long-term goals to help guide me, I know that I can sometimes be a little overly focused in my approach to achieving those goals.”
Taylor Ann Adams talks about her personal strength and passion for riding.
“My greatest strength is my sobriety. The animals keep me on the straight and narrow and keep my happiness right where it needs to be.
My weakness would be I love the horses more than I love myself. Sometimes I over obsess and annoy the horses by touching them too much!”
We want to hear your stories! Share with us your greatest strength and weakness as a rider, or competitor, below.