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2022 CMSA Derby OPEN Champion Drew Wallace & Lobos Twosnip Roper

Why were you successful in the 2022 Derby?

I had the right team, I put in the work, and I was mentally prepared for the competition.

A horse is like a building; without a solid and strong foundation, it is uninhabitable. This horse came from a feisty stock of ranch horses out of Clark Farms Quarterhorses. She then went to Penley Horsemanship for all her foundational work. I am not a horse trainer. I am a competitor who works on his horsemanship every day. I rely on others to lay the foundation, and then I build the walls, the roof, etc. Having the right foundation for a young horse is critical, but once the horse comes to you, there is still work to be done.

You must enjoy the process to be a successful competitor, maintain the right attitude, and put in the work. It is critical to have a goal, but it is even more important to love and respect the steps required to get you there. You must learn to love the work. I love to work hard at something. At times I even enjoy the practice more than the thrill of competition. With a young horse, there are generally more days that can leave you frustrated than filled with achievement. But you control your attitude on any given day. Make it a positive one.

Lastly, hard work will only get you so far in the competition. You can work your tail off at home, but if you are mentally unprepared to perform on the day of the event all is lost. External pressure only becomes internal pressure if you choose it to be. Years spent in high-stakes military service have given me the tools to control what I think about during competition day. I allow the subconscious to take over, relax, and simply execute. I am grateful to have leaders, and mentors, who taught me those skills.

What advice would you give to future competitors?

First, ride your young horse in the cavalry class. In general, the cavalry patterns are more technical, involve significant horsemanship, and are a great way to continue to season your horse at competitions (in addition to an expo or AQHA). I rode my futurity horse for the entire 2021 season in calvary, and it afforded us the opportunity to work on our horsemanship and get more reps.

Second, find a team, close friend, or professional trainer for support. There is a wealth of knowledge out there, and there is nothing wrong with asking for help with a young horse. You still must put in the work regardless but use resources if they are at your disposal. How often do you see a boxer alone in his corner?

Third, work on your mental game and have a positive attitude. There are several mental strategies that can bring impact the day of competition. No matter what, your attitude is the only thing you can truly control. No one can take that from you. Much like the famous quote, “we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” I consciously choose to be a positive person, and it has allowed me to continue to enjoy all aspects of this great sport, no matter what comes my way.

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