Under pressure – One week until HOYS

I was sat in an interview once and the interviewer asked “How do you perform under pressure?”. Every part of me wanted to say “Like this!” and burst into a full vocal and dancing performance. I thankfully exercised some self control and didn’t. However, to this day, whenever I hear the Queen classic it makes me smile. Well, the song has very much been in my mind over the last few days. One week to go until the “World’s Most Famous Horse Show”.

But I am very pleased to announce that I am actually feeling alright. A lot of competitors are feeling the pressure: pressure to get it right, pressure to deal with the unique environmental factors involved in the show, pressure to impress when it really matters…. Perhaps mostly though, I believe, pressure from the people around them. Thankfully I have the best support team ever so I am feeling support and not pressure.

I read a quote recently (I do love a quote!)

“Pressure is a word that is misused in our vocabulary. When you start thinking of pressure, it’s because you have started to think of failure.” said the very wise baseball coach, Tommy Lasorda.

So there is actually no pressure at all because Team Jackpot are going to HOYS with the goal of giving it our best shot, learning and enjoying as much as possible.

Daisy and LVS Jackpot smiling in the ring at Henley Show

Now, that may sound incredibly calm and wise (unlike me I know!) We have gone round and over some serious bumps in the road to get there and I imagine over the next 7 days I may go a little off track….

Two weeks ago, I was overexcited. Jack and I were bonding and working well together. He was looking and feeling great and we were going to conquer the world.

A week ago, we weren’t going to HOYS at all. I wasn’t ready. It’s going to be the biggest and scariest course either of us have ever tackled. Blind leading the blind. Not a good idea.

Last weekend, Jack was going but I wasn’t going to ride him. Although we have been doing well, I still make a lot of mistakes. I probably get 9 out of 12 fences right round a course. There are far better riders out there. We need to find someone brilliant to look after him and nurse him round the course so it is a positive experience for him.

On Monday, we decided to go and give it our best shot, learn and enjoy.

I am so incredibly grateful to have this opportunity. Not many people get to ride into the International Arena at HOYS and I know I am privileged to get the chance. The Mother has believed in me, even when I was crying about just walking around the school, and works tirelessly to help us. The Aunt has supported me, even when I didn’t want to hear and felt like a total failure. Friends have cheered me on, even the ones that didn’t even know what HOYS was a few months ago. Total strangers have cheered me on via this blog and social media. And all of these people are part of Team Jackpot. I am so grateful to be representing Team Jackpot.

Not only am I representing Team Jackpot though. I am representing amateur riders, riders who have or are working on overcoming a crisis of confidence, riders who have grown a human and are back in the saddle, I will also likely be the only rider in the class with no stick in my hand and that alone is something to be proud to represent. How could I not be buzzing with excitement!?

And if we get there and everything falls apart and we don’t even get in the ring then we learn and go back next year better. But I am aiming towards the big cuddles with Jack after jumping that final fence and riding out through those famous curtains to the Mother and the Aunts proud faces……

Pressure pushing down on me, pressing down on you, no man ask for!

Joey, aged 4, on the podium at Newbury Show
Joey embracing the pressure!

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