From EN: Three Big Takeaways from This Year’s WEG

Week 1: What did we learn?

Top image: Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM. Photo by Jenni Autry.

While we’re nursing our WEG hangover (and binging even more as more disciplines begin competition this week!), it’s a good time to reflect on the past week and all of its ups and downs. What are some things that we learned and can take forward into the coming years? What were some of the best moments we saw at WEG? We’ve got some reflections from a wild week, and we want to hear yours! Post your thoughts in the comments and let us know what you’re taking away from this year’s WEG.

1. If nothing else, this sport will humble you.

Humility is something that is best practiced regularly, but sometimes life has a way of (harshly) reminding us that we are only human. I have a hard time thinking of a sport that is more humbling than this. It teaches us to never take for granted the opportunities we are given, and to continue to grow and learn so that we can come out stronger after a tough day. Eventing truly is the manifestation of “the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.”

Take Buck Davidson, for example. In recent years, the man has spent countless hours honing his skills and building a stable of worthy contenders for the upper levels. Fast forward to this year, and he’s truly seen the fruits of his hard work come to fruition. While his run at WEG may have come to a premature end, he can still look back and know that he’s worked hard for where he is today, and we know he will go back to the drawing board and work on ways to come back swinging even harder.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

2. A working team is vital on the world stage.

As tough as it must have been to watch their teammates continue on in competition, it was so encouraging to see them out cheering on their peers and supporting their team in the face of adversity. After Pierre Michelet’s cross country course claimed its share of victims on Saturday, the faces of those who had not completed the course could still be seen in the stands or behind the scenes, lending a helping hand and never failing to smile or offer an encouraging word.

In the pressure cooker that is the World Equestrian Games, it’s important to have a working support system. Team Great Britain comes to mind, who had the unenviable task of maintaining their position to take home a medal without their teammate, Harry Meade. The team pulled it out, laying down performances under pressure that would cause even the toughest out there to catch a case of nerves.

At the end of the day, the North American teams are heading home intact and closer for the experience they’ve had, and this can only be improved upon in the future.

Game faces: Coach David and Sinead head to the start box. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Game faces: Coach David and Sinead head to the start box. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

3. Work hard to play hard.

I’ve no doubt that each and every member of our North American teams is coming home with a fierce determination to get back to work. While the horses will enjoy some vacation time, the riders will be back to the daily grind, always working and choosing to reach farther in order to improve.

As David O’Connor said after the Games this weekend, it takes awhile for the cylinders to click on all levels. The Games this year give the U.S. a good jumping off point to start from with the Olympics in focus now. While both the U.S. and Canada have their work cut out for them with a team qualification on the line at the Pan American Games in 2015, you can bet that both teams will get right to it.

In order for the U.S. to continue to grow as a presence on the world stage, there must be a solid leader in place who can correctly assess situations and make adjustments accordingly. David O’Connor took the reins as the Chef d’Equipe and has methodically implemented programs that he believes will lead to success. David believes in this program, and he had some very insightful things to say in a post-WEG interview with EN.

What do you think? What lessons did you learn this weekend? What observations did you make? Discuss in the comments below!

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