Most riders can relate to confidence issues surrounding equestrian sport. Victoria Wilson gives us an insight into her 2020 season as well as her struggle with confidence issues and her plans for the future.
I think it’s fair to say 2020 has got the better of everyone. It has been confusing, emotional and even scary.
I don’t want to mention the ‘C’ word, but I have to say that I think we will forever be in debt to our health service this year. Fair warning, I am going to be really honest in this blog post about things that may seem small and unimportant in the grand scheme of things. However, I feel that it is important that people talk about their challenges in their journey openly. For riders, mental health is such a huge factor in how we perform and succeed.
First off, a bit about me. I grew up in a not so horsey family, but I have always known I wanted to ride and be with horses all day every day. What they lacked in equestrian knowledge, my family made up in support. Thanks to them I now work on an eventing/livery yard with two event horses of my own. Basically, I play with ponies all day every day! However, I have always had to play catch up, I never felt like I was at the same level in riding as my friends. My biggest flaw is I have absolutely no self-confidence. That’s hard to admit. It is easy for me to pretend to be confident, but that just makes me feel worse about myself, why am I not as confident as everyone else seems to be?
Eventing is a sport quite literally full of ups and downs. One day I’m winning an event, the next I’m falling off. Learning to celebrate the wins and learn from the mistakes is the best way to keep motivated. 2020 has definitely not been my year. Like many others, my season barely started before the first lockdown.
My confidence is always at the lowest at the start of a season. I’m always trying to step up a level or do better than the year before and putting pressure on myself. Consistent runs help to build up my confidence. I get on a roll and start to feel like I know what I’m doing. However, I haven’t had that luxury this year. This year, I feel like I have had 3 re-starts of the season, with my horse being intermittently lame (due to a splint) as well as lockdowns.
I had so much planned for this season, and I haven’t accomplished any of it. My confidence has definitely taken a hit this season. Which is ironic given I ended last season with a rotational fall and yet felt more confident than I do now. Yes, I have spent the last month or so feeling sorry for myself and sometimes I need that time. This year has been like an event that didn’t go well, but I have to learn from it. I love Eventing, maybe I have forgotten how much I enjoy it because I haven’t done it much this season. The events I have done, I put too much pressure on, again taking all the fun out of it.
After reading lots of success and struggles from friends and other riders on Facebook, I have decided I am too careless with my confidence. I work hard training myself and my horses to do the movements and jump the jumps, but how hard do I work on my confidence? Lots of people could probably say the same. I am my worst critic, which has its perks as it helps me know what to work on, but that doesn’t mean I need to pick at every little thing I do. My goal for the rest of this year onwards is to practice being positive. I will always have doubts and that is normal but instead of letting them take over, I hope to be able to challenge them and push myself to be confident.
Sometimes you need reminding why you love what you do, why you started in the first place. My reminder came when I was on a hack with my sister, not even on my own horse. It was cold and wet and I had just clipped the mare I was riding, so she was feeling extra fresh! But boy did we laugh! I can’t remember what we were giggling at, but it reminded me of how we used to do this every day when we first got into horses. No pressure, we hadn’t even planned to go it was just a bit of fun. I felt so happy in that moment. It made me feel lucky to have my wonderful horses and to do this every day.
I started to look forward to starting with them again after their time off. I know in this day and age you can’t plan for next year; we don’t know what next year will be like. All we can do is hope for the best and enjoy what we have!
Confidence issues affect so many riders and I think it’s so important to share this. Sometimes, we loose sight of why we started riding and how much we love the sport. 2020 has challenged us all, but hopefully we will all come back from this even stronger.
Follow Victoria’s eventing journey on Instagram.
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