byNina Fedrizzi| Dec 18, 2017
Growing up in Mexico City, rider Daniela Moguel was a show jumper, not an eventer. Back then, it was Daniela’s future coach and mentor, two-time Olympic medalist Karen O’Connor—or, more accurately, a poster of Karen O’Connor jumping into the water on cross country—that first inspired Moguel to take up the sport.
Nearly a decade after completing her first CIC1* in Mexico City, Daniela and her 14-year-old New Zealand-bred Thoroughbred Cecelia launched their international campaign in the States, training for the Pan American Games in Toronto with none other than Karen O’Connor, who was named the Mexican eventing team coach in 2015. In the years since and under O’Connor’s tutelage, Daniela and Cecelia have successfully moved up to Advanced level, completing their first CCI4* in Kentucky in 2016 and finishing fourth in the Jersey Fresh International CCI3* last May. Today, Moguel splits time between competitions in the U.S. and her homebase at Rancho El Mirador in Mexico City, where she’s launched her own training business (you can keep up with her clinic schedule on her Facebook page).
From proper turnout to staying in the moment no matter how intense the XC, here are 10 key lessons Daniela has learned from her coach Karen O’Connor.
1. Experience has to be earned—sometimes the hard way.
Karen always says that experience comes right after you need it. We all have to learn from our mistakes so that we don’t repeat them.
2. Focus on your canter, not the jumps.
When you are competing in the show jumping or cross country phases, Karen says it’s not about the jump, but about the quality of the canter that matters. In other words, if you approach the jump with a good canter, you’ll be just fine.
3. Be thankful for your horse.
It’s always about the horse and putting him or her first. Whatever he needs is what you need to do.
4. Focus on what you can control.
Don’t worry about what you can’t. Karen tells us to basically do our best and not to worry about the rest.
5. Proper turnout is non-negotiable.
Karen believes riders should be turned out impeccably, not just at shows but also at home. Proper turnout is how we show respect for our horses and prove that we take the sport seriously.
6. Live in the present.
Last year, we were cross-country schooling a couple of weeks before Rolex and I was very tense and not riding like myself. Karen asked me, “Are we on the Rolex track?” I told her that we weren’t. “So why are you worrying as if you were?” she asked. “You still have two more weeks before the show, so until you are at the starting box, don’t worry about it. Live in your present.”
7. Walk like you’ll ride.
Karen tells us to walk our cross country course exactly the way we plan to ride it. It’s important to make sure you know how the footing is everywhere on course and to pick the shortest route to the next jump.
8. Be appreciative.
Karen believes it’s important to be appreciative of the people who make the sport possible, and especially the volunteers. She always says to make sure to thank them! Being thankful for the hard work of others is how we keep the spirit of the sport and fair play alive.
9. Hard work pays off.
No one is going to give you what you are looking for in this sport. You have to fight for what you want.
10. This is how to shoulder-in.
Karen was the only one who, after many years of riding, could actually explain to me how to ride a shoulder-in. She says to point with your outside thumb where you want the horse’s shoulder to go, and then use your inside knee to push the shoulders in the same line you are pointing with your thumb. Magic!
-Photos courtesy of Daniela Moguel; via Instagram/Dan_Moguel.
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