It’s Mental Health Awareness week, Eventing Worldwide contacted the Worlds best event riders to ask how they cope in such a busy and pressurised world..
How are you coping during the COVID-19 pandemic?
I am coping fine. To be honest I consider myself incredibly lucky to live on the edge of the South Downs and to be working outside with the horses. It’s not a hardship being at home.
Home schooling has been the biggest challenge but my children know i’m not much help, so they have got on with it….!!
Have you encountered any difficulties due to lockdown?
Not really as I have reliable suppliers that have been able to deliver. I have moved most of the horses out and ridden them from the field, which saved on bedding costs. I only have part time staff so I have laid them off and my daughter Isabelle (15) and I have been doing the horses ourselves.
My biggest problem is that I have sold a horse but not been able to get it vetted, so still waiting!!!
Would you say you feel more stressed than normal, due to the restrictions?
No, I’m more relaxed as I love working with the horses and no pressure of competition as it’s out of my/our control being cancelled.
Do you normally suffer with any mental health conditions? If so, how have you dealt with it?
No, I don’t think so. If I have any doubts about anything I have managed to deal with the situation. I have learnt to try to turn a disaster or disappointment into a positive and convince myself of the good things that have happened to me and that I am luckier than most.
Has being around horses helped overcome any stress related struggles in your career? What strategies have you implemented to help you stay level headed in tougher times?
As I have been brought up with horses, you soon learn to be adaptable and grounded otherwise you won’t succeed. No one day is the same. My parents are successful equestrians, so have also kept me grounded and to work hard for my success as they did.
I have taught myself to analyze a situation and work out how I could have done/or asked the question differently. I criticize myself first before my horse.
Have you or anyone close to you felt that they couldn’t speak up about how they may be feeling for fear of being judged or perceived differently? Do you think that mental health conditions can have a bad reputation which means some who suffer are less inclined to open up about it?
I think in this sport mental health or doubting your ability, however you want to define (mental health) would be prevalent. I think every rider has doubted themselves on a regular basis but it’s how you deal with it that’s important. It’s good to talk whether it’s to a friend or psychologist. Nowadays it’s more accepted to seek help.
Do you think that people who do not suffer with any mental health conditions may think that those who do, are either doing it for publicity or attention?
No, as I think sport is so professional now that any advantage you can get you should go for it.
Do you think that other competitors or spectators might see someone as weak in a competition driven by bravery if they were to open up about suffering with a mental health condition?
I think if they are successful and winning then people will admire how hard they have had to work to succeed. If they are average and blame mental health for their failings, then they should consider changing careers as life is too short to be that unhappy.
What would you say to someone who finds therapy in their horses, but struggles with event related anxiety?
Keep going to competitions but at a level you are comfortable at and then only upgrade to a higher standard, when you are confident in your ability.
It’s time to remove the stigma of mental health from our sport by speaking out and increasing mental health awareness, understanding, and confidence amongst all riders. Remember that #ItsOkayNotToBeOkay
Riders Minds is available to ALL riders both amateur and professional for anybody struggling with mental health
RIDERS MINDS are here for you with their dedicated 24 hour helpline 0300 102 1540