Prepare and have no Regrets, by Aaron Ralston
My competition at the world equestrian games in Aachen Germany was not the first time I had rode for the gold medal. The scenario had gone through my mind a couple of years earlier as a day dream of proving myself to the world. I did not have a plan but I saw myself in the position of representing not only myself and my horse, but the thousands of reining horse fans and equine enthusiasts from across our country. I remember as a part of my daydream realizing that I knew nothing about being in a high pressure situation of that kind. After qualifying for team USA, I had a long drive home from Lexington, KY to Silt, CO for the circumstances to soak in. This responsibility took me to the highest feelings of pride to the lowest fears of failure. For 27 hours I rode one of the largest roller coasters of my life through some of the flattest states in the US. It was during that tumultuous drive that I only had one option, Prepare. I remembered reading an interview with Tom Brady of the New England Patriots when he was asked if he ever gets nervous, paraphrased, he said only if I’m not prepared. He went on to talk about the detail in which he prepared in order to better predict his performance. Physically and mechanically I knew I just needed to do what I did to get there, however, mentally I had very little reference to know what to expect. I played all of the situations out in my mind until I exhausted my imagination. I then rode into the arena with more confidence than any time in my career; I knew my horse, accepted the expectations, and told myself “if I held anything back I would regret it for as long as I lived”. The result was the high score for team USA and a narrow one point victory over team Canada. I truly feel that the gold medal was not won that day, but during the first daydream and that long drive home from Kentucky that sparked a call to action.
[This article was published in Performance Horse Digest, Volume 7, Issue 7.]
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