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Learning to ride a horse with marshmallows and spaghetti
19 April 2016

EQUESTRIANAdvanced Elective workshop

19th April 2016, State Equestrian Centre

story by Brad Scott: WAIS & Athletics Australia athlete, Paralympic Games 800m, 1500m runner.


 Today I teamed up with Joe for what was his first Developing Champions facilitation. As a former professional tennis player, Joe knows what it takes to reach the top level and the dedication it requires. So it was a great opportunity to gain another athlete’s perspective on elite sport. And I don’t know if Joe could have had a better group to start. The experienced athletes from Equestrian WA were top notch. As always, they were attentive, cooperative and able to have plenty of laughs. Great fun!


As I find the human mind absolutely fascinating, I’ve been reading plenty of books related to the topic. Recently I finished a book titled ‘The Rise of Superman’, where athlete’s optimal mental state or ‘flow state’ was the main focus. This is why, when we started our first elective ‘Understanding Mental Skills’, I couldn’t stop smiling.

We sent the athletes back in time to think about, what they believed to be their best performance. After they identified this performance, we asked the athletes to share their experience. What I found amazing was when the athletes described their performances, most started with a negative situation. Being, an injury, the weather, or a poor start to the competition, they then enlighten us about how they overcame these obstacles to achieve a performance to which they were proud of themselves. Funnily enough, sometimes it didn’t end in victory. It shows that it’s not always about winning.

Being a track athlete, routines are a must! I need to make sure that each component of my competition preparation is planned and actioned effectively. My personal routine is very detailed. I write down each and every element that is involved in my performance. However, I have it easy, as I only need to worry about one person (or animal), me. I couldn’t comprehend what it is like to compete with a horse, let alone the routine required to do so. So it was great to see the athletes go through each element of their warm up with their horses. We even used chair as props. Let’s just say that I’m glad that I do athletics.


Another favourite of mine, the marshmallow and spaghetti tower challenge, was attempted by the athletes. 20 marshmallows, 40 pieces of spaghetti and 10 minutes to see who can build the tallest free-standing (important rule, this one). As they broke off into their groups, some athletes discussed a plan, where some went straight into building. A few led, whilst others were happy to follow. The reason why this exercise is best done in groups and not individually, is that it’s all about communication. As it is the key to any effective relationship. Let alone the World Championship of Marshmallow Spaghetti Tower Building.


After 10 mins I must say that I’m glad there wasn’t a breeze. As some towers were looking quite fragile. As always, 1 winner must be chosen. The winning height was around 60 cm. Not a bad effort at all. How do you think you would go?

Overall it was a great day back out at the Swan Valley. I love it out there. I think I have found my new long run location.

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