Watch this interview with Champion John Swales and Heza Diamond Spark. When asked what he did mentally to prepare for competing against such a tough bunch of horsemen, he said "I just try to stay focused on one event at a time, just try and prepare the horse as good as I can, just try and play it event by event."
As for the energy in this packed and sold out house, and what it felt like coming into the four runs in the finals, he answered "It was pretty crazy, it was hard not to get super, super, super nervous, it made a person try a little harder though I guess,"
I think it is important to note that pre-show nerves are normal and that all competitors-even the World's Greatest Horseman!-feel them. It is what you do with these nerves that makes the difference. John Swales has certainly showed that he possesses grit and mental toughness! He used the nerves to motivate himself to try a little harder, and focused on one event at a time and what he needed to do to best prepare the horse. Then staying focused in the show pen, especially in the fence work, he had a tough cow, and he and his gritty palomino stallion stuck with it through open field turns and losing his left stirrup, and laid down an amazing run. One can clearly see the years of preparation and practice that both horse and rider dedicated to lead to this championship.
Take a few minutes and watch the interview and highlight reel of his performance in the finals! Amazing horse, great horseman, and tough cattle!