The Breeder’s Cup World Championships were held this past weekend at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.  I was one of the many viewers tuning in from the comfort of their homes to watch the weekend’s races.  If I had to sum up the 28th running of this series in one word, that word would be ‘unexpected.’  Several races were won by long-shots and several favorites didn’t even finish in the top three.  Some notable upsets were:  Perfect Shirl who won the Filly and Mare Turf race at 27-1 odds, Afleet Again who won the Marathon race at 41-1 odds and Court Vision who won the mile race at 64-1 odds.

The biggest upset of the night was in the $5 million dollar Breeder’s Cup Classic where Drosselmeyer, a 14-1 long shot, came from third to last and ran an impressive final 150 yards to clinch the victory.  What is most impressive about his win is the fact that Drosselmeyer hadn’t won a major stakes race since his victory at the 2010 Belmont Stakes.  What stands out the most to me about Drosselmeyer’s story is that he has had his two biggest victories under the same jockey, Mike Smith.  This fact got me thinking about the interesting “team” dynamic seen in equestrian events.

Equestrian is a sport that requires two participants to be in non-verbal synchrony.  It is not like other “team” sports where one member can compensate for another member who is having an off day.  Riders have to remember jump sequences and dressage routines and decide when to make a move during a race, but the horse has to want to perform as well or else the rider is somewhat out of luck.  Speaking from experience, it is very difficult trying to get an animal that, on average, weighs close to 1000 pounds to do what you want when it is simply not having it.  Due to this interesting team dynamic, I am curious what it would be like to consult with equestrian athletes.  How do we consult with a client who is part of a ‘team’ sport in which one member is a non-verbal participant?  Just some food for thought…

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