Coming back to Australia, have you seen a bit of a change in the sport here from when you left?
I did see some positive changes, particularly in the professionalism of running the events, and the surfaces. I only got to go to Boneo and Willinga, but I must say that both events are very professionally run. The surfaces have improved 100%.
It was incredibly encouraging to see the standard of good judging and good surfaces. They were well-run shows and the officials well educated and quite friendly and helpful, which is very important. The standard of the shows, I think, has gone up considerably.
What I do feel is unfortunate is that we’re still very isolated here so far as professional instruction goes. We’re still far away from the centre of that. I’m just so blessed to be able to have these lessons with Patrik, because if I couldn’t have that then I would feel very, very alone.
Five Olympics, hopefully six next year… what words of wisdom do you have for young dressage riders?
I guess I would say never give up on your dreams. And I always advise people it is a step by step process and about making realistic goals, surrounding yourself with very positive people, and being very honest with yourself.
I use videos a lot where I look at how I’m going and self-analyse a lot. Sometimes I’m probably my biggest critic. I think that you have to be realistic and honest with yourself. But at the same time, you have to have an incredible determination. It is not just talent that gets people there, it’s the determination, planning and making realistic goals; sticking to your goals and having good people around you, they’re the things that get you there. You’ve got to dream big — without being ridiculous – because anyone can get there if they make the step-by-step process and they’re very determined and focused.
You need to be realistic about where they’re at, but you can never let somebody put you down and tell you something is unachievable — if you are determined enough you can achieve anything.
I’m 65… you have in your mind when you’re younger that 65 is old, but when you get there it’s not old. You realise no one really knows what is ‘old’, because it’s all in your mind and body — if your mind and your body are willing, then you just keep going.
What we also have available to us now, is the ability to watch all the top riders on YouTube or through Clip My Horse. I think one of the most valuable things you can do is to really, really look at a lot of the videos of the top riders riding in top competition, and really look with open eyes and see the difference. That’s something you can do that’s very helpful — I do often. I think everybody that I watch, you can learn something. Sometimes it’s what not to do, but you can learn from younger riders. I often watch younger riders, even here, and find some very admirable qualities. You have to open your mind to learn from everybody, everywhere you go.
The learning journey is never over!
Never. I learn from my horses and my students. You can learn from your own students by watching when you tell somebody to do something or they do something, and then you watch the result. You can learn from your horses, your students and everything around you. It’s just a matter of having an open mind.