“That was a very good course. That wasn’t just a course that was THE course.” Daniel said. I could see the happiness in his expression. “Erin you had zero faults on course zero faults on leads and changes. Any chips or longs?” Daniel asked Erin the owner of Silver Linings Stables.
“No chips or longs. That was very clean.”
“Right now you have zero faults Erin. It all comes down to your time, you finished your 45 second course in… 46 seconds. Erin you finished your whole course with only one fault. Congratulations you have the lowest scoring round of the weekend! I don’t say this often but that course and the way you executed it was perfect.”
Not even ten minutes before, I was watching the other riders in my group run their courses. I was getting inside my own head. I was nervous. I was beyond nervous. All because I thought I wouldn’t remember my course or that Elf would land on the wrong lead. I remember from the night before, when every group was sitting around a fire listening to one of Daniel’s speeches. I knew I had performance anxiety… Knew it. From the start. And I knew if I didn’t relax. If I didn’t ask myself How do I relax? Then I would find out how fast I would crumple under the pressure.
When I entered the ring on Elf’s back, a billion thoughts were going through my head at once. Was I going to let my nerves and fears get the best of me? I had to decide. Am I going to ask myself How do I relax?
It hit me like a brick to the face. And when I stepped foot into that ring… I decided I would push out any worry or fear I had, that made me slip into a calm and confident state, the calm and confident state that I only have used on the soccer field before.
It was my turn to tackle “the Cube” (the cube we did was six jumps set up in the shape of a square. The cube is a difficult task to complete because it challenges both your mind and body)and I wasn’t going to let my petty feelings get in the way of that.I felt the wind hit my face… The clock was on.
Every time I jumped a vertical you could see the gears turning in my head. I thought of every stride, every change and every time we landed I would check my lead. But I also had to go fast because the clock was running. No matter how clean my course is, the one thing that determines whether I have to do sit ups or not is the time.
The course was done. I walked of the ring, feeling proud,happy and confident. I realized that my nerves were just another obstacle in my path. I learned that my ability to get things done was amazing, but it only was achievable if I relaxed. Daniel Stewart taught me a lot, more than school could ever teach me. More useful than any lesson I have been taught…
He taught us how to calm yourself down in a stressful situation. Like before I was about to go on I didn’t think I was going to remember my course or that my horse would spook and I would hit the ground hard again. (I was already thrown.) He taught us that none of that can affect you if you just relax and think about this task at hand. That’s what I did. And that is how I succeeded.“Everyone has the ability to be great, but you are the only one that can control whether you achieve greatness” that was one of the things that Daniel said. I will never forget it…