Mental Eventing

Jo Davies

Age: 29

Location: SW London (but I’d rather be in the countryside!)

Other interests: Anything sporty, foody, or competitive – I love a good pub quiz.

Favourite Eventing moment: I thought Harry Meade’s comeback from two broken elbows to achieve third place at Badminton this year (2014) was phenomenal; a fantastic demonstration of resilience and drive.

What is your favourite one day event? I fence-judged at Firle Place a few months ago and thought what a beautiful setting it is. The cider was good too!

What is your favourite International event? Tough one, but I have to say Badminton – I never get tired of going.

Which four team members would be in your multi-national fantasy Olympic eventing team? William Fox-Pitt, Michael Jung, Paul Tapner & Tina Cook.

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Favourite quotations:
Oh, I have loads – I am a quote geek (call me cheesy!); here are a few:
“If you think you can do it, or you think you can’t do it – you are right.”
“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”
“If it wasn’t hard everyone would do it. It’s the hard that makes it great.”
“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”
“A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.”
Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”
I also really like Mary Schmich’s (1997) essay ‘Wear Sunscreen’ (later released as a song by Baz Luhrmann). It has some brilliant advice.

Essential piece of kit: On the go, my diary holds my life together and waterproofs and a flask of tea keep me pretty happy. This makes me sound very easy to please!?

People and horses who inspire me: I loved reading Pippa Funnell’s autobiography, albeit a fair few years ago now. She is the first pro event rider I know of to have talked very openly and honestly about overcoming her cross-country nerves at big events by working
with a sport psychologist.


I first encountered a horse at three years old, when my mother plonked me on one at a farm in Devon (Error #1: I had a severe adverse reaction when she tried to prise me off). I have a sneaky suspicion that actually mum secretly wanted me to learn to ride (Error #2: I hope my own [future] children will choose cheap hobbies). This notion was confirmed when I was five and mum ‘rescued’ an unbroken welsh pony – ‘Scooby Doo’ – for me to learn on. What I promptly learned was how to fall off. Nonetheless, we did eventually progress to Pony Club. Since then, horses have always been a big part of my life. I caught the eventing bug as a teenager and post sixth form I spent two seasons as a working pupil with JP Sheffield. I subsequently headed to university to study a BSc Psychology degree at Birmingham, and during these years I was honoured to ride for the Student GB Team, including the Equestrian World Championships. Whilst my current circumstances in the London smog aren’t conducive to owning a horse, I currently share a lovely event mare in Surrey.

As for my professional life: Having accrued several years in industry post-university, including working for the LOCOG equestrian sport team during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, I returned to academia to complete a Master’s degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology. Life since then has been busy! I am a practising sport psychologist trainee, working through the rigorous pathway to British Psychological Society chartership status and HCPC registration. I currently run a private sport psychology consultancy, working with equestrians and other sportspeople on the mental aspect of their training and performance. Every day is different, from working with an individual rider, a group of coaches, or a university team; to delivering group workshops via professional sporting bodies or in schools. Alongside this, I am undertaking a PhD in sport psychology and I am also a visiting university lecturer (in, you’ve guessed it, sport psychology). Put it this way, I don’t often get bored!

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