We recently sat down with our new Park Ambassador, Charlotte McLaughlin, for a one-on-one on her experience as an equestrian champion and how she manages to juggle a busy sports schedule with equally taxing school and social demands.
Amongst Charlotte's accolades, she is Canadian Champion 1.20m Junior Jumper Division, NAYC Children's Team Gold Medalist and Individual Silver Medalist. She is also a co-pilot and working towards her private pilot's license.
Whether it’s time spent training and grooming her horses for their Showjumping success, in the air for her private pilot wings, improving her swing on the golf course, studying to maintain her scholarship, or time being a loving daughter, sister, and friend, Charlotte manages to edge out the clock.
All of this takes clever planning and Charlotte gives credit to her family, her coaches, and her mentors for helping her find and manage the time to achieve her goals.
Finish this sentence. "Because of Equestrian, I….."
...Have learned a lot about myself, not only as an equestrian, but as a person. I have learned to be disciplined, to be focused, to be compassionate, to be respectful of myself and others. I have learned to be patient, and, I have learned to be flexible! I have also learned to not take myself or life to seriously! I have also learned that it takes a village to help me achieve my dreams. I am grateful for my Coaches, my Mentors, my teachers at school, my parents, and my siblings. They all support and believe in me. I could definitely not achieve my goals without their love & support.
What is on your equestrian bucket list?
My short term goal for 2019 is to become a member of the Canadian Junior Team.
My future goal is to one day wear the olympic rings and represent Canada at the Olympic Games!
Describe a day in the life.
My mornings start early. Six am, where I eat ( I need fuel) and get ready for school! I spend the mornings from 8:00-12:00 in class & every other day I squeeze in a session with my tutor. I grab my lunch & go and head to the barn, where I lesson or free ride for several hours! Then it's home, where I change, grab a quick snack & then head to the gym. I do at least an hour workout everyday. Then...I hit the shower, hit the books & then eat dinner with my family! I usually study in the evening and prepare for the next day & week ahead! Weekends are my play time!! Balance is key to my success!!! I make sure that I carve out time for my social life as well as for my family. Sometimes it is hard to manage it all, but it is essential for my well being!
How would you describe your competition style, and how does Park accentuate it?
I am always trying to make myself stand out from the rest. I do that with my personal style, clothing, and accessories. I also do this with the turnout of my horse. This includes making sure he has the proper equipment so that he can perform his job with poise and excellence. As soon as his show tack is put on, he knows it is game time. I can greatly relate to this because when I look the part, I also feel more confident. When I carry my Park Backpack to the ring, it commands attention, and never fails to turn heads. With its timeless and striking colour, and it's incredible functionality, this bag withstands every element thrown at it. Whether it's rain, sleet or beating sun, I must perform and this bag has proven to do the same. I am proud to be partnered with such a high quality and high fashion brand such as Park Accessories and I look forward to what the future holds.
You've succeeded at a number of high profile competitions. How do you mentally prepare for competitions?
To prepare for my competitions, I first ensure the night before I have organized my gear, my horses gear and then I ensure I have a good nights sleep. The morning of my competition I start with a FULL belly!! My Mom makes me a full breakfast including ham, eggs, toast & juice!! My brain & body need fuel!
Next, I prep with a light hack with my horse, just to exercise him, connect with him, and to settle my thoughts. Then I usually head to the show ring to watch my competitors and watch their rounds. Then I meet with my coach, review the course and review our plan! When sitting at the ring, while waiting for my turn...I review my plan in my brain...and ...I sing to myself! Yep...I sing to myself! Whether it be words of positivity & possibility or a favorite song...This helps me focus and calms my mind so that I can focus ONLY what I need to do in the show ring!
What are some lessons you’ve learned so far?
HUMILITY is essential in this sport!
I have learned that hard work pays off. I learned to never give up, and I have learned that whatever I put my mind to, I can achieve. I believe that I can...so I do.
How do you get better at the sport?
Practice, practice, practice! Focus and work hard. Surround yourself with positive people, and recognize that this is a privilege!
What are some words of advice you can give for those who want to succeed in equestrian?
Listen....be humble, be bold, stretch yourself, and step out of your comfort zone. Be curious and don't be afraid to ask questions from those that have gone before you. I never take for granted an opportunity to learn from my mentors and my coaches. Whether it be in the ring, hanging out at the barn, or simply talking with other riders...I can always learn something new!!
NEVER take for granted each moment you sit on a horse...it is an absolute privilege to be given, and to show love, respect, compassion for the animal. Every time I sit on my horses, I recognize this incredible gift. I also recognize....I have SO MUCH to learn.