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Sharon White

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1% Better with World Equestrian Brands: Mindfulness in the Saddle

Sharon White and Claus 63. Photo by Abby Powell.

1% More” is a new blog series in which we ask World Equestrian Brands endorsed and trainer team riders to give us one booster tip that will help us to improve our competitive edge by 1%. As any true athlete knows, all of those 1%s add up to significant results.

Sharon White is a 5* eventer based in WV. Her incredible, high-performance career has taken her all over the world to represent the USA in FEI Eventing Nations Cup competitions and as a reserve rider for the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games. We look forward to seeing her compete next week at the Landrover KY 3-Day Event. 

One of my primary philosophies is that attending to the small details and the fundamentals will serve both you as a rider and a human as well as your horse. Any equestrian sport is one of just inches, so identifying small ways to be better each day can help make up that difference. It’s not only about natural talent in this sport – in fact, that’s one of my favorite things about it! Your decision to put the time in and not rush can pay off in terms of competitive success – and it’s not only about success, it’s also about health.

With our sport, there is a lot of pressure at any given time – pressure to improve, to look after your horse, and to make the right decisions, among other things. Couple this with the sport’s inherent danger, and this can be a pretty intense situation to place anyone in.

This is why I’ve come to appreciate meditation and mindfulness as a part of my daily routine. It is hard to stay present and in the moment when there are always a million things to think and worry about. But with horses, we must have the ability to be in the moment with them, not a hundred miles away thinking about all the things you still have to do that day.

Trust me. I get it! Starting a meditation and mindfulness practice isn’t easy or intuitive, but I promise that taking just a few minutes to practice this each day will make a fundamental difference in your wellbeing (and your horse’s, by association!). As with anything else, it’s a practice, so don’t worry about doing it “right” or “well.” It’s a little different for everyone.

Here are some tips for using meditation and mindfulness in your riding:

1. Make it a part of your routine.

Just like our horses, we also do well on routine. I know it can be hard to establish a new one – especially when you work with horses! – but if you look closely enough at your day, I bet you can find some times when you’re already in some routine. Maybe you like to enjoy a cup of coffee before you head to the barn or work for the day; what about an extra five minutes spent meditating? Even a tiny amount makes a difference when done over time. Or maybe you find some of your chores or work to be contemplative in nature – mucking stalls, feeding, dragging the arena, braiding, for example; try sticking in your headphones and trying a guided meditation while working at these tasks. Think of it as an opportunity for your brain to take a break from thinking five steps ahead!

2. Find a practice that works for you.

The good thing (and, sometimes, bad thing) about the Internet is that there are endless possibilities for assistance. There is no need to try it out alone! Starting with guided meditations is helpful for those who haven’t tried it before. I have a few favorites I’ll recommend to my students if they’re interested in trying meditation, but sometimes you have to try a few different things before you find what works for you.

[There’s more1 Click here to read the full list of tips from Sharon and World Equestrian Brands]

Fun Had by All at Sharon White’s Eighth Annual JUMP! Fundraiser

JUMP! is Last Frontier Farm’s annual derby-cross style fundraiser held in Summit Point, WV. In its eighth annual running, the 2016 edition was a huge success with funds raised to support Sharon White’s high performance horses and a fun, educational experience had by all. In our latest Athletux Equine blog, Sharon tells us about the event, which was held on the Fourth of July hence all the red, white and blue mixed in with Sharon’s signature bright orange! Many thanks to Sharon for writing and to Athletux for partnering with us on this blog series.

A JUMP! competitor gets patriotic. Photo courtesy of Sharon White.

A JUMP! competitor gets patriotic. Photo courtesy of Sharon White.

Let’s face it, this is a very expensive sport that we all love so much. Fundraising to make your dreams possible can be an exhaustingly daunting task. I for one have an incredibly hard time asking anyone for money or help, yet to excel at the top levels of our sport, we must have a bit of help.

Eight years ago the idea to do the JUMP! fundraiser was born out of a need to raise money to compete overseas. My goal for a fundraiser was to create something that people benefited from and that would be fun and even a bit educational.

JUMP! has really grown into an event I look forward to every year. We offer classes throughout the day from the intro level up. The goal is for it to be fun and helpful as a true schooling opportunity. I coach all day, we have amazing cross country courses that are safe and inviting with water at every level, and even a lead horse for the green horses if they need it.

Go orange or go home! Photo courtesy of Sharon White.

Go orange or go home! Photo courtesy of Sharon White.

Alongside our classes we also do some raffles, a silent auction and have fun prizes. Being that as many people know, I LOVE ORANGE, we also encourage fun costumes and orange spirit. This year our event happened to also be on the Fourth of July, which certainly added an additional level of fun and gave people another reason to dress in costume.

This event allows me to afford to make a trip overseas during my season, but it is so much more than that! It has become something my entire team looks forward to, and I hope the community looks forward to as well.

I can not thank everyone who donates items, volunteers, and supports the event enough! JUMP! has reminded me time and time again that if you offer people something in your fundraising efforts, it makes it so both you and they can feel good about it.

I look forward to seeing what JUMP! becomes in the future and my team and I are already excited for next year! If you have never been before, we would love for you to join us.

Fun, Good Spirits and Lots of Orange at JUMP!

Lots of orange on display at JUMP! Lots of orange on display at JUMP!

JUMP! is Last Frontier Farm’s annual derby-cross style fundraiser held in Summit Point, WV. We just completed our 7th JUMP! event, after being pioneered in 2009 by Sharon’s best friend Dawn Haney-West, who died suddenly later that year.

JUMP! was Dawn’s vision, and we have been thrilled to continue hosting this successful event each summer in her honor. With an emphasis on fun and good spirits, the event showcases lots and lots of orange! The funds raised support Sharon’s high performance horses, including trips overseas, which are incredible — but very expensive!

In the months leading up to the event, we start by creating save-the-date emails and announcements, fliers, and entry forms; secure donations from sponsors and private donors for the popular raffle and silent auction; order everything from ribbons to port-o-johns; and most importantly, secure a date!

We have been fortunate to have the inimitable Brian O’Connor as our announcer year after year, and love having his familiar and encouraging voice lead us through the day.

JUMP 11

In the weeks closer to the event, we set the courses, put up flags, decorate the jumps, set up tents and tables, make a big trip to Costco for drinks, food, and supplies, and do lots and lots of mowing and weed whacking!

Before you know it, the day has come, and we start at the crack of dawn doing our normal daily chores of getting horses in and fed and settled for the day.  We were thrilled to add the services of Blue Horse Entries this year,which made entering and check in a very smooth process for both us and the competitors!

We start the day with the elementary division, which has cross rails for the show jumping and logs on the ground for the cross country, and make our way up through Preliminary.

Competitors range from kids on ponies, to adult amateurs on seasoned mounts, to green horses gaining experience in a busy environment. This year was no disappointment, and we saw lots of fun and positive rounds in all levels!

One of our favorite features is our lead horse and rider – we have a few trusty residents at LFF that rotate through the levels, ready to step in and provide an encouraging lead if needed.

Sharon does course walks for each level and spends the day running back and forth across the course cheering on the riders. Another favorite aspect is the “Orange Spirit Award”, and we love to see what fans and competitors come up with!

JUMP 5

We’ve had orange tutus, orange pinwheels attached to cross country whips, orange body suits, and the list goes on… This year, we awarded Orange Spirit Awards for each level, and since our event fell on the Fourth of July, added “Most Patriotic Awards” as well.

Though we had a few raindrops throughout the day, we were extremely fortunate to miss the nearby storms and have a great day of competition with more than one hundred rides.

A popular new feature this year was the Horse Quencher Corner, where horses could try out all the great Horse Quencher flavors and take home samples of their favorite! We also added fabulous custom Last Frontier Farm, Team Orange, and JUMP!

C4 Belts to our merchandise tent this year and they were very popular! GRC Photo graciously agreed to come photograph all the riders, and our Tiki Hut was – as usual – a huge hit, with drinks and smoothies for everyone at no charge.

We appreciate everyone who came and supported us — we couldn’t do it without you and your cheering, orange spirit, and incredible enthusiasm!

Also a special shout out to our volunteers who come year after year, helping in the pre-event prep and keeping everything running smoothly the day of. You all are so fabulous! Thank you to all of our sponsors who always generously support us, and of course to all of the riders who make this event so memorable!