Thursday 12/07/2012

A lot has been happening on facebook, forums and riding news websites about the selection of the Australian eventing, dressage and showjumping team.

The last thing I want to do is add gossip, innuendo, or derogatory remarks to some of the things I have read, but at the same time I would like to have an open discussion on my thoughts, as I am a Grand Prix rider, and all things going to plan will be putting myself up for Olympic team selection in 2020.

Firstly, I think we all work hard – anyone who has gotten to the top in dressage, eventing or showjumping ‘deserves’ the absolute privilege of the experience of competing at the Olympic Games. And I can understand with that at stake, everyone wants it and no one wants to miss out. It is also easy to see emotions getting involved, and ‘ego’, and I don’t mean ego necessarily in a bad way, but the ego would be fighting for what it believes to be ‘right’, especially as it would be very easy to have identity at stake with something like an Olympic games.

I think the big furor with what has happened with the Australian team, is the lack of transparency and perceived fairness of the system. What the EA needs to realise is that people need systems, people need certainty, and without it, chaos can ensue. 

Consider this example:

I train my life and work my ass off to become good enough to get on an Olympic team and they say “Oh – we don’t like black horses, we won’t put you on the team”. 

As opposed to:

Written in the rules in black and white is that black horses will not be submitted onto the dressage team.

I would never do the work, never do the hours, I would buy a grey horse, and problem solved.

Ok – it’s a silly example but it makes the point. If people know the rules before they do the work, there is rarely a problem.

We learn this in leadership all the time – if you want to make a change in an organisation, you give your employees plenty of time to process the change. You inform them up to three months before the change is to occur. You tell them the reason why the change is to occur – this is crucial … and the BIGGEST thing you must do … is RESASSURE!!!! Reassure the change will be beneficial, and not harmful to them.

The biggest problem I can see with the EA, is they change their policies and procedures without explaining a) their ‘why’, (b) quickly and without warning and c) without reassuring the people on the team, as well as the wider public that the change in policy is beneficial. 

I think we would feel better with the decisions made if there could be an explanation provided around their reasons for the choices, and why they thought the people on the team were the best choices for the team. Not to justify their choice, I am aware the selectors have been appointed, and at the end of the day their decision is their decision, so I don’t want a justification of their choice, but rather an explanation, so I may better understand all the factors involved in the process, and feel like I have all the facts the selectors used in weighing their decision.  

I feel the uproar from the public in this matter is because we have no facts, no information, and with that lack of leadership, lack of care and respect to give us the reasoning behind their choices, leaves some of us feeling lost and uncertain. These are states no one likes to be in, and hence the drive for answers.

I really feel for the ones that have missed out! I hope they are given answers. I know in coaching, people don’t struggle for years because of an event that happened to them … they struggle from what they made that event mean. And if they are given clarity around why they missed out, and answers they can accept, that I believe they will use this to drive them even further into success, and use the disappointment as fuel to propel them for the next Olympics.

As for the Australian Team … CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!! I am so excited and pumped for you!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂 I know you will be all gunning for PB’s and I hope you get them as well as enjoying the magical experience!!!!!!


Natasha Althoff Signature


p.s –  Only 9 days left to get in on the workshop of the year, with Grand Prix rider Natasha Althoff and Commonwealth medallist and world record holder Craig Blythman… check out the Health & Body Workshop by clicking here

p.p.s –   To learn the tools Natasha uses to handle disappointment, click here if you are a Your Riding Success member!