Anne Kursinski’s accomplishments in the equestrian arena are extraordinary. It never ceases to amaze me how this 5’7” woman who weighs less than 130 lbs. can climb aboard a 1,000 pound animal and lead them to believe that they could clear 6’ fences, fly across water and soar over terrifying obstacles with such confidence and finesse. Despite the man-made hurdles, she is one of the most beautiful riders to watch.
According to Anne, being the best equestrian she could be was always her goal and the competing in the Olympics was her ultimate dream. Just how did she rise from a small girl watching from the sidelines to being one of the best in the world?
Every dream is made up of moments. For Anne, it’s about to committing to the moment wholeheartedly. It’s preciously what got her through one of the toughest times in her career. In Barcelona, during the ‘92 Olympics, her horse Cannonball refused to jump one fence in the first round. The pressure was enormous. Anne knew she has just one more shot for her team and her country. She dug deep. According to Anne, “I gutted up and said to myself, ‘by God we have to do this!” She envisioned it and fully believed with every part of her being that she and Cannonball could do it. Anne made it happen. She and Cannonball had a clear 2nd round.
Anne’s winning strategy can be narrowed down to 6 key ingredients:
1. Watching the best. “As a young girl growing up on the West Coast I would watch professional riders and I’d pretend that I was on that horse galloping and jumping. I was completely in the moment with them.”
2. Positive mental imagery. “I use all my senses to imagine a perfect round. I see the correct distance to each fence, hear the announcer, feel just the right contact with my horse. I ride the course in my mind many times so that by the time we walk into the ring, I’ve been there before.”
3. Personal Affirmations. “When I first came from the West Coast, I was kind of a stiff rider. My trainer told me that I needed to loosen up, so I’d say to myself over and over again, ‘let go.’ I said it religiously and it worked.”
4. Getting in the zone. “I ride my bike or walk alone to the ring in order to get prepared. I get quiet and focused.”
5. Paying attention to health. “I pay attention to my body by getting enough sleep and eating healthy.”
6. Seeking the right coach. “I’ve always sought out the best coaches and committed to learning all I could from them. As a coach and mentor, I want to bring out the very best in my students.”
*photo credit Peter Photogram