We recently caught up with Cornelia Dorr, fresh off of her 10th place finish at Burghley 5*, to talk about her 5* debut, her feelings throughout the competition, Daytona Beach 8 (her equine partner in crime), and how she approaches day to day training and competition.
WEB: What were your thoughts leading up to Burghley?
CD: I’ve been based here in England since January with Kevin and Emma McNab. I came over here with hopes to do a 5*, and after our first jump lesson with Kevin, he said, “There’s an argument for Burghley here,” and I was like, “It’s my first 5*, no way!”
You know how you can plan for something, but it doesn’t really feel like it’s going to happen? It was a little hard to trust in the lead-up that it was happening.
WEB: Tell us a little about the event itself. What were you feeling after dressage?
CD: For each phase, I had a little goal in mind. For dressage, I just didn’t want it to be a disaster! She’s really emotional about the flatwork, and it’s hard for her mentally. I didn’t know how an arena with that much atmosphere would affect her. I was thrilled with the 39. That was way more than I expected!
After that, I wasn’t thinking about a result at that point. I was just thinking about completing.
WEB: Were there any combinations that were noteworthy on cross country day?
CD: I was really nervous about the leaf pit because a stride away from the drop, it looks like you are literally leaping off the face of the Earth! But Daytona was so dead on there I knew that we were going to be good. She wants this.
WEB: Going into show jumping, you had moved up from 50th to 16th place! Were you starting to have some thoughts about where you’d finish?
CD: I was just really glad to be jumping in the afternoon session in the top 20! She tried so hard!
WEB: Tell us about your relationship with Daytona. (We secretly have a mare obsession!)
CD: We are finishing four years together now! She’s been really difficult. I don’t think that’s a secret. I’ve thought a few times about selling her because of the flatwork. But I think this year abroad has been so good for us. She’s my best friend now.
Kevin really understood that we can put pressure on her in training like a normal horse. Understanding that about her has changed her idea towards life. She’s much softer towards everything. Everything has to be her choice.
WEB: What’s one piece of wisdom that you can share with our audience that can help them to become 1% better?
CD: I have a couple I think. I’m really big into sports psychology and understanding how my mindset affects the outcome and affects the people and horses that I’m around. Being aware of my mindset.
I’ve been reading this book called Mind Gym, which really talks about how you are not what your brain says you are. It’s helped me to work on separating what my brain says vs. reality.
Also, I think a lot about the horses’ physical strength. Fitness isn’t skinny; fitness is strength. A strong horse has less risk of injury, so I’m thinking about that all the time while I’m training. Where are they weak? What can I do to make them stronger? What exercise do they need for that? I try to think about that all the time while training.
WEB: That’s so helpful! Something our readers can take away for themselves. Thank you for chatting with us, Cornelia! Of course, before you go, we have to ask. What’s your favorite WEB product?
CD: My favorite product is the eventing rein! I am super picky about reins and always have been. If I notice them in my hands, I don’t like them. The rubber reins with stoppers just fit perfectly in my hand and fingers! They don’t even think about slipping, even in the worst of weather!