Given that its been what feels like ten weeks since pay day and it must be the 91st of January, last Saturday provided a well needed post Christmas social outing. 🍹🍾The evening organised with the Irish World Champion Silver medalists by the Eventing Ireland South Leinster region took place at the Osprey Hotel and did not disappoint. 😀 After feeding us, we were treated to an interview and Q and A session with High performance director of the Irish Eventing team, Sally Corscadden and the Irish riders – Cathal Daniels, Sarah Ennis, Sam Watson, Padraig McCarthy and Trish Ryan. 🐴 I had great seats just a few metres from the team and it was amazing to be sat so close to the riders I had cheered on at WEG. Declan Cullen compered the panel interview which was very informative. There were a few points I took away from it that I will definitely use when setting my own goals and plans for 2019 and beyond.
📍 Every rider, when asked about their success and their experience, praised their horse – their bravery, their honesty and how lucky they are to have them. It really drove across the different personalities that these animals have and how much they mean to their riders.
📍 The over whelming theme that shone through and was referenced constantly was teamwork. This group came across so strongly as a unit in every answer they gave and in the stories they shared about their experiences. Sally also praised the often unseen wider team members from the horse and rider physios, to the grooms and the farrier. So often when you see a team interviewed in sport, someone comes across as the Liam Gallagher of the group but this really didn’t seem to be the case here.
📍When the floor was opened up for questions, it all got a bit Irish for a minute and no one wanted to be the first to speak so of course I opened my big mouth and asked what, if any piece of equipment or tack would the riders credit as being the most performance improving. The answer was surprising but also quite positive – its not any piece of tack or equipment or any ‘thing’ that built success – it wasn’t something you could just go out and buy. It was training, dedication, hard work, commitment, support and team work. It was something we can all at any level, afford to invest in and maybe that is what we should be investing in – knowledge and experience, not things.
📍 The mental aspect of the sport was highlighted over and over. Sports psychology and mental preparation were stressed as one of the important aspects of competition and performance. Padraig spoke about showjumping and about learning to be a different rider mentally in training and in competition – about being able to visualise success with confidence in competition and drive success from it. I am a coach and as I work a lot with young riders and lower level riding club, I really embrace the importance of the mental side of riding when it comes to performance and competition. However it is something I realise now that I do not embrace enough for myself. I spend a lot of time and money in training as a rider but have never invested in one to one sports psychology and it is something I believe I could benefit from – does anyone know of any you would recommend?
📍 I was amazed and inspired by the candor of the riders and the personal stories and experiences that they were willing to share. These are athletes at the top of their game but rather than just celebrate success they were willing to open up honestly about the journey there and how they had to overcome hard times and failures on the road to success. Sams’s account of his own challenges around showjumping was refreshing. It was a reminder that a successful journey doesn’t often if ever go smoothly, there are so many peaks and troughs along the way.
📍The riders took time to mingle afterwards and to speak with attendees – as someone who only returned to eventing last year at the lowest level after a ten year break it was a priviledge to get to speak one to one to these athletes.
📍 I didn’t win any raffle prizes despite investing heavily so and anyone who knows me will know why I am gutted 😂 but the raffle and auction raised fantastic funds for the Olympic effort.