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Preparing for the unimaginable

In mid-November, I was asked by Warwick Schiller if I was interested in participating in the Gaucho Derby as there was a last-minute opening.  Against all practical sense, my heart answered a resounding: YES!  And I stepped into a fast-moving current of events that has been truly life-changing on many levels.

Now, I am in the final countdown.  I had an incredible week at the Academy to work on the survival skills with 14 incredible women and one courageous man who are following their hearts to the Southern tip of the world to connect with some of the most amazing horses on the planet.  I have so much respect for these beings who navigate the harsh landscape and challenging weather with such Ease and Grace.  The horse I rode possessed a Dignity and Confidence that while not unique in a Gaucho horse, can be considered special in the domesticated equestrian world to which we are all very familiar.  

So what did I do to prepare to ride 500 kilometers with only 10 kilos of gear across the Patagonia of Argentina for what is termed the “Greatest Test of Horsemanship on Earth”?

  1.  TRUST - Believe that my heart was guiding me in the right direction.  Eradicate any thoughts that might be limiting or seed doubt and questioning.  Trust that I have in fact been prepping my whole life for this sort of endeavor, and all the pieces will come together naturally as long as I focus and hold steadfast to the vision of what is possible.

  2. ALIGNMENT -  Alignment is getting focused on WHY I am participating.  For me, it has always been about connecting with the horses, harmonizing with nature, and gathering first hand knowledge of how we can continue to improve our relationship with animals.  Remembering the essence and reason for why we do any action helps keep us aligned with our heart’s purpose.

  3. MASTERCLASSES - Train with experts who know what they are doing.  I was fortunate to work with @Steviedelahunt and @andrewgerhard who are seasoned professionals in their field of Endurance Riding.  Stevie is also a veteran Gaucho Derby Rider, and she is now on staff and responsible for Animal Welfare on the Derby. I have nothing but the highest respect for their expertise and wisdom, not to mention, they have amazing horses who were my guides through the process!  I also called on my friends in the extreme sports world, professional skiers, cyclists, base jumpers and mountaineers for their wisdom.  Ask a lot of questions!

  4. CROSS-TRAIN - Any athlete knows the value of working different muscle groups. When I wasn’t riding, I was doing HIIT classes and Hot Yoga.  This summer and fall was spent doing solo back-packing, hiking, and mountain biking.  Winter Season means that training consists of downhill and cross country skiing.  Any type of movement in the elements is good for the mind and body for this type of event!

  5. MEDITATE - I practice HeartMath, Chanting, Meditation, and Breathwork regularly to keep my mind clear and calm.  The benefits to health are indisputable.  Even when I am in the midst of life’s busiest episodes, I make the time for spiritual practices.  Like food, they are essential nourishment for the Soul.  I radiate Appreciation and Gratitude several times daily to the other riders and horses whom I have yet to meet.

  6. COMMUNITY - Humans are social animals, and we need each other to survive and to thrive.  The rally to make the Gaucho Derby a reality has shown me the incredible support of my friends and family like nothing else I have ever encountered!  I have been awestruck by the amount of encouragement and sincere enthusiasm from my wider circle. I am so grateful to have had private crowdfunding that is not reliant on Corporate Sponsorship and the subsequent pressures or expectations associated with such entanglement.

  7. DETACH - “It’s not about the end result, it's what you learn along the way” is a quote I often repeat by one of my mentors, @arianastrozzimazzucchi.  No matter what happens in this epic ride, I surrender the fruits of this action.  That means I make a point not to become fixated on one definition of success.  It’s about the journey, not the destination.  I have learned so much already, and find myself delighted at every opportunity to help others now in their efforts to accomplish tasks great and small.

  8. STUDY- I have dedicated my time to study about wilderness survival, packing techniques, watched videos of tent set-ups and DIY hacks, learned about the Patagonia climate, politics, history, and Gaucho Culture.  This has been a deep dive into a whole new subject matter with which I had no previous knowledge.  I also got an opportunity to brush up on my Spanish!

  9. PLAN - Be organized and methodical.  Touring for over a decade with the largest show in the world, Cavalia means that I am experienced at packing, and a lot of that has to do with being organized and mapping out all logistics.  Every day, I make a list of 25 actions, and cross things off as the day progresses.  I re-evaluate priorities, track progress and refer to the ‘big picture goal’.

  10. COMMIT - This is the full YES.  Once you step into the current, take that leap of faith and don’t look back.  Focus on the road ahead with awareness and stay centered as you move forward. Like a surfer dropping into a wave, or a skier dropping off of a cornice, you will pick up speed and momentum as soon as you make that inner resolve to fully engage and give it all you’ve got.  That momentum can carry you like the wind to fantastic places!

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