Last weekend – and for the second year in a row – 34-year-old Danielle Goldstein stood proudly at the top of the podium as winner of the $391,000 Palm Beach Equine Clinic Grand Prix CSI5* at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida.
Out of 37 entries, six moved on to the jump-off. With her fiery feathers standing out against the night sky, “Dani” and her superstar mare Lizziemary took a daring inside turn that “looked dicey” when Dani walked it. But she had faith in her partner and they flew through the timers an incredible 1.75 seconds faster than second place Alex Granato and Carlchen W.
“It felt like a long time coming,” Dani said after her win, lamenting unlucky faults and recent narrow misses. “I thought, ‘You gotta go out there. If you don’t try to win, you never win, so you might as well try.’”
It was a hot night in in Wellington and horses and riders alike were feeling the effects of the weather. “Even in the warm-up, I thought [Lizziemary] may be a tad empty, but she went in there and tried her heart out. It was really amazing.”
As a member of Team Israel at the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina, Dani has her eyes keenly set on competing in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. No stranger to the kind of pressure that’s found inside the world’s most high-stakes arenas, Dani shares how she gets her head in the game and keeps her focus on the job at hand.
1. Keep your mind on your ride.
“The biggest thing is focusing on the job and not on the event,” Dani explains. “If you start thinking about the crowd and how important the event is, you’re done. It’s really important to just think about the plan and stick to it. Go in the ring, look down, don’t look at the crowd, just keep your mind on the game.”
2. Yep, deep-breathing works.
“I always take three, big, deep breaths. I warm-up on the horse, I’ll walk before my last vertical, and then I take three breaths and try to get myself in a calm state,” Dani says. “Those deep breaths are the best way to calm down and get focused before I go in.”
3. Superstitions are totally normal.
“I’m a very superstitious person,” Dani says, chuckling. “I always kiss my horse on the neck before I go in the ring – I’ve done that since I was a little kid. It’s habit now, I don’t even realize I’m doing it.”
Photos by Sportfot.