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Equestrian WA: Two Generations of Education
21 June 2015


EQUESTRIAN WA, Foundation Elective workshop, State Equestrian Centre. 21 June 2015

Story by Brad Scott, WAIS Athlete, Paralympic 800m; 1500m runner


So here I was, driving out to the Swan Valley on a wet and windy Sunday to co-facilitate a workshop to 21 Equestrian Superstars and their parents. All I kept asking myself "How I have never been out to this gorgeous place before? The place is Amazing!”

Amanda Schonfeld (Lead Facilitator) and I began the day by spending an hour with the young athletes' parents. The parents compiled a list of the plethora of duties involved with being an equestrian athlete’s parent. This list was impressive! Everything from an alarm clock, cook and taxi, to some parents even being a coach and/or competitor. Which I found astounding! Can I just say that I loved seeing how enthusiastic and supportive the mothers and fathers by how engaged they were. As someone who wouldn’t be an elite athlete if it wasn’t for the support of my parents, I really appreciated and enjoyed this session.

Next up, we had the future of WA equine sport, the young athletes. We began discussing the effective ways to communicate. We then moved into an exercise to demonstrate these skills. We had four teams competing in a relay. Each team with a leader who would verbally guide each blindfolded athlete one after another to a marker and back again. As we were outside under the eaves, the stakes were high. Misdirect a teammate and you run the risk of being saturated by the pouring rain. So sparked by the fear of possibly getting wet, the athletes succeeded their task with flying colours, as everyone was still dry.

After a short break, we identified then discussed the key relationships involved in the day to day life of an equestrian athlete. With the first and most obvious answer being their partner in crime, the horse. The athletes then delved a little deeper to consider all the possible parties that they have relationships with, good or bad. We had answers of family, friends, coaches, sponsors, officials, sport organisations and competitors to name a few. Once these parties were identified, the athletes using their recently developed communication skills collaborated to construct way of how they can converse and respond in an assertive manner. Which not only creates the best experience for all parties involved, but then shows the respect everyone deserves.

Lastly we focused on performance, and whilst it was the end of a long Sunday, focus was definitely the key. As Amanda educated the athletes through the process and benefits of practicing mental imagery and creating a routine. As this would assist with their performance by the athletes focusing on the variable that they can control whilst understanding and accepting that there are variables that they cannot. As someone who likes to have control and practices mental imagery often, I can vouch for the power, strength and peace of mind that this can give an athlete.

Overall, I was really impressed with the involvement from the young athletes. As some are just moving into the senior competitions, it was great to see them not only identify the key relationships involved in their sport, but also ways on how to effectively communicate to ensure that they can have the best possible experience from their performance. Hopefully I will get the chance to assist these superstars again one day. I would happily venture out to the Swan Valley again.

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