As some of you might know, I’m currently interviewing top riders for my next book. I want to know what the most important habits and patterns are to become successful in the mentally challenging sport of showjumping. Daniel Deusser is clearly a natural and confident rider and he has some inspiring thoughts on how he go there? He shared with me the things he learned along the way, and what helped him most on the way to the top? Here are 9 practical lessons I learned from Daniel, that you can apply as well.
1. Prepare like a pro and then let it go
When I asked Daniel how I became the confident rider he is today, he kept coming back to the same concept. Train at home so you don’t need to be nervous at the show. “Of course it also depends on the quality of our horse, but that you can’t control or change anymore when in the ring. So at home, focus on process of improving your horse. Once you get to the show, you can’t change that much anymore, so just let it go and ride your best round possible.
2. If you want to be better, train better
If your results are not as good as you would like them to be, it doesn’t mean that YOU are not good enough. It just means you need to train better! Don’t take your results too personal, learn from them what you can and then make a clear plan how to work on improvement at home.
“If your results are not as good as you would like them to be, it doesn’t mean that YOU are not good enough. It just means you need to train better!”
3. Keep it simple
Riding a big track can sometimes seem extremely complicated but Daniel’s advice is to keep it simple. Think about what you ultimately need in the course. You need a gas and you need a brake, a left and a right. Think about the basics, how does a horse move? For example, if your distance in a line gets too long, don’t use your spur to make your horse faster. Instead, make the stride bigger otherwise you will have another problem after that as you got there on speed instead of stride.
4. Move up in small steps
When I asked Daniel if he ever got nervous before a show, he mentioned he (understandably) got quite nervous the first few big shows he went to. How he got over this is to rely on his training and to focus on moving up in small steps through the classes or shows. For your own confidence and your horse’s, make sure you set tiny steps of improvement, and just focus on that.
5. Be on time
An easy and important rule to make sure you stay relaxed and keep your cool during the show is to make sure you arrive on time. Make sure you have enough time before your class to rest, focus and not arrive in a rush.
6. Focus on the relationship with your horse
The bond you have with your horse is the most important thing you want to work on as a rider. “If you don’t have that strong connection, they will not want to work or fight for you either. Make sure to built towards having respect for each other when training your horse. At the same time, make sure to keep them happy and let them be themselves as well. If they need to buck sometimes, let them buck if that keeps them confident and willing to fight for you”.
7. Observe and learn from the best
Just like Lorenzo, Daniel too admits he loved standing at the warm when he was younger and watch the “famous” riders train their horses. Over the years he learned so much by just watching or talking to them about how they school their horses or how to tackle a particular difficulty.
8. Good horses make a difference
Even though this might not always be within your control, it is important to realize that the scope and carefulness of your horse does make a difference. If you train really well and work hard on improving rideability, you can still run short in the class. As a rider it’s important to keep that into account and when not able to reach the goals you had hoped for, make sure to adjust your goals to the ability of your horse.
9. Just be you
Don’t ever try to imitate someone else or try and ride like someone else. “Don’t try to do things just because Ludger or Markus is doing them. Make sure to focus on your own game, think for yourself.” You can learn from others, but never try to imitate them.