Know Your Competition? By Denny Emerson

December 28, 2012
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I came across this blog entry by Denny Emerson of How Good Riders Get Good fame and thought it had some interesting points. I think it’s a good idea for all of us who compete in the horse world to know our competition. If we know our competition, it could help us to know what exactly to work on and improve. Read his entry below and see what you think. Know your competition or not? I say yes!

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Know Your Competition? (Or Not?)
by Denny Emerson

Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid are running from a posse. Butch yells, “I couldn`t do that. Could you do that? Why can they do it? Who are these guys?

So let`s say you are an aspiring American event rider who maybe has, maybe hasn`t just made the USET Winter Training list. And you want to know what it takes to make it in “The Bigs”, as they say in baseball. Well, good news, troops, because there are two riders who kicked (almost) everybody`s butt in London this summer, and I haven`t read one single word about how they got where they got. How they came along as younger riders, who trained them, where they found their horses, what they look for in a horse, what their conditioning and training procedures are, NOT A WORD.

I`m obviously talking about silver medalist Sara Olgotsson Ostholt, riding Wega, and bronze medalist Sandra Auffarth, riding Opgun Louvo. Sara is from Sweden, married to a German, and Sandra is German. They were born in 1974 and 1986. Their horses are a fairly small percentage thoroughbred and a fairly large percentage Warmblood.

It`s interesting to me that, as far as I know, nobody in America has interviewed them, invited them to the USA to teach a clinic, “picked their brains” to derive insights about, as Butch Cassidy wanted to know, “Why can they do it?”

So if I were an enterprising American eventer, I`d try to be the first to find out more. What do these women know that I don`t know about horse training, horse selection, horse conditioning, all of the pieces of the big puzzle that allowed them to prevail where American riders failed to prevail?

I would pull up the pedigrees of Opgun Louvo and Wega on All Breed Database, and I would study them. I want to know what ACTUALLY works, not what my hunch tells me should theoretically work. I`d be interested to see that Wega, who lost the gold medal by the slightest whisker, is a homebred, and that her dam, La Fair, completed the same Olympics with Sara`s sister, Linda Algotsson. That family is onto something—aren`t you curious what that is?

There`s an old saying, “know your competition”, and to date, I don`t think American eventers have sufficiently considered what this means. So here`s a Christmas/New Years tip, fellow Americans. Go find out.

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