Jo’s own sporting background lies in equestrian and so she appreciates the challenges that training and competing with equine partners can bring! Jo works with riders of all levels on an individual and group basis, and has experience within disciplines of dressage, show-jumping, eventing, polo, showing, working equitation, and racing; as well as with recreational riders. Practical 1:1 sessions can be of great benefit, and Jo can meet you at your stables, a training venue, or at events. Jo also runs workshops for riding clubs, pony clubs, and professional bodies including British Eventing, British Showjumping, and British Dressage.
Riders often spend a huge amount of time preparing physically for competition, e.g. horse and rider fitness, schooling, nutrition, tack and equipment. Yet preparing mentally for competitions is often over-looked. Jo helps riders to gain consistency and a competitive mental edge in areas such as:
- Effectively managing competition nerves
- Improving focus, e.g. within training, competition warm-ups and in the ring
- Stepping up to the next level of competition, e.g. self-belief and preparation
- Coping with pressure, e.g. from support teams, owners, and yourself
- Dealing emotionally with the highs and lows of competition, e.g. results, falls, injury
Jo meets many riders who would like to build their confidence and enjoy their riding more, be that whilst hacking out or jumping a course of fences. Jo works with recreational riders to bring the fun back into riding, looking at areas such as:
- Overcoming anxiety after a fall or bad experience
- Building confidence to take on feared activities, e.g. cantering in open spaces
- Developing self-belief to try new things, e.g. hacking out alone
- Improving focus to develop skills and accomplish goals
What Jo’s EQUESTRIAN clients are saying…
Having been a confident rider all my life I suddenly found myself to be nervous, negative and anxious, a combination of middle age and becoming the owner of a very sensitive, quirky and sometimes unpredictable, horse. I was on the point of giving up all together when I met Jo. I found her to be kind and sympathetic and, as a rider herself, she could empathise with my worries and fears.Jo put me back in control. She taught me techniques which helped me focus on my riding and not on the “what if” scenarios which before had constantly played in my head. Thanks to her help I went from someone who found it hard to ride a 20m circle and felt anxious trotting over a pole to someone who scored 70%+ at dressage and was confident jumping a 1m track.I cannot thank Jo enough for helping me to rediscover my love of riding and would recommend her to anyone who is experiencing doubts and fears at whatever level.
JN Grassroots Event Rider
I approached Jo after having issues with my confidence whilst showjumping, and also performing at my best in competitions where I had a certain result I wanted to achieve, for example championship qualifiers. I tended to put a lot of pressure on myself and focus on the result, rather than the means to achieving it. I feel what I gained most was a way to actively address my mental state, and utilise it in a positive, rather than a negative way, through a series of clear steps which we laid out together in sessions and what I could do in training to achieve this. What I learned from sport psychology with Jo is now something I utilise in everyday life, not just in competition. Thank you, Jo!
Alana Event Rider
I first met Jo through a training day with British Eventing and following this, I could see how Jo could really help me with some issues I was having with my two ex-racehorses – who I was competing at BE80/90. I had been working so much on the horses, I’d forgotten to think about how my mindset was impacting our performance.
Over a period of months, we worked on a variety of factors, all of which have been incredibly helpful. One aspect we looked at was simplifying my thought processes. It turns out I had so much going through my head during the individual elements, there was no way I could remember what I needed. I worked on having focus words (for my horse: “Balance” and “Power”), which I still use and are so much more powerful than the jumble of: “Leg on, must go clear, oh no that was the wrong stride” type of muddle that was going through my head!
I also had a mind-block with doubles (SJ) and corners (XC) and as a result my horses picked up on this and we had issues. Jo discussed this with me and using great questions, she helped me identify that I was riding differently to a double than I would a fence I was comfortable with. We worked on just focusing on the first element and treating it like any other fence, and the results were immediate. As for corners, Jo helped me to realise through imagery that it was something we could do and again, corners have not been an issue since.
Part of my job is as a Performance Coach and I have been very impressed with Jo’s ability to bring coaching into the sessions to really help me to uncover my best solutions. Jo is prepared to offer options when necessary, but most of the time she works with the individual to help them come to the answer, which is very refreshing!
Sally Grassroots Event Rider
I worked with Jo to focus on how to develop a clear strategy for managing challenging situations where a lack of confidence (horse and rider!) had become an issue; both competitions and training in unfamiliar environments. We developed an approach based on building a clear plan for each event, structured around my aims, what success would look like, and how I would manage each element of the competition/training session; including mental focal points and how I planned to ride. This approach has enabled me to maintain a consistent, focused attitude, and importantly to ensure that I ride to the best of my ability. My horse has become more relaxed and consistent, and as a result, we have not only achieved my initial aim of completing a one day event, we have also placed on several occasions.
NH Grassroots Dressage & Event Rider
Jo Davies was initially recommended to me by another para rider when we were discussing competition nerves and the issues that held us back. When I later mentioned that I was going to see Jo to friends to other competitors, suddenly I learned how many others she had helped in a variety of ways; and all the reports were very positive.It was crunch time for me as I was trying to qualify for Rio 2016 Paralympics and the pressure was on big time. The qualification criteria for the Paralympics is very complex and I needed to get the very best results to be in with a chance – incapacitating nerves were not welcome! The advice and details that we discussed together were reassuring, supportive and effective. Suddenly, I had a concrete framework that I could utilise whenever working on my own in the school – when often the “doubt demons” creep up on you!! I still carry that mindset with me to every schooling session – with a mapped out plan in my mind – and a debrief to myself the way back to the yard.Jo taught me that it is all about the focus/detail/planning and taking a step back to look first & foremost at the positives of a schooling session or a test… not just the negatives as we are all very quick to do! It’s not always easy and is definitely work in progress for me – probably always will be – but at least now I feel more confident that I have some of the tools needed to achieve that aim.Speaking of which – next goal is qualifying for WEG 2018 on a new horse P’S Panta Leone!
Lee Para Dressage Rider
I had my first session with Jo after a meltdown over a 80cm showjumping track. Now I’m comfortably pinging 115cm at home and successfully completing BE100! Jo has worked with me to break things down and to move my focus away from my SJ demons and onto useful things; like ‘soft elbows’ and ‘forward canter’. I really can’t thank her enough. I actually enjoy showjumping now!!
Jess Team Leroy Eventing
Jo helped me to develop and discover ways of thinking in order to allow me to rationalise my fears of being out of control. This was a hindering factor to progressing my young horse and giving him a well-rounded competition education that he needed.
This work centred around a journal where I noted performance and what as good and bad about performance. I noted the effects the strategies had in getting me to progress and I realised what achievements actually were. The main refocus was ensuring that I was able to explain exactly what I needed from people around me, in order to achieve the now more realistic goals. This enabled me to be more honest with my coaches and this make better progress as the aims and goals were more realistic and focused as a result.
I can honestly say that I now understand more about training, achievement, mentality, and how that all links to physical performance; and the importance confidence and belief has on outcomes. It is liberating not to be solely results focused as the rosette is not always the achievement!
Becky Grassroots Event Rider
I’d highly recommend one of Jo’s sport psychology workshops for riders. I got a lot out of the session, and I’m positive everyone else did too. She dealt with every individual example raised, and had a great way about her. I think we all wished it could have gone on a lot longer! It was so useful to hear about different patterns and experiences among riders. I now use the strategies and visualisations and I am definitely feeling the difference – and having lots of lightbulb moments as I ride now!
Kerry Event Rider
Thank you so much Jo, for coming to Cowdray Hunt Pony Club Senior Camp to deliver your sport psychology workshops to our members. The fact that you were previously a Pony Club member yourself and therefore completely understood the stresses and pitfalls of equine sports at this level very much helped in the success of your talks. All the children benefited greatly from your informative and confidence boosting style and each came away saying they had learnt something about themselves and how they could improve their performance.
Lucy Sanders Cowdray Hunt Pony Club District Commissioner
I met Jo via the social networking group #Twittereventing, and we spoke about organising an open workshop to address some of the questions and concerns that riders have about nerves and confidence when they train and compete.
Jo was terrific to work with. She was really approachable and helpful when planning the event and I had every confidence that she would deliver something that was relevant and helpful to all the attendees.
The workshop was attended by approximately 15 riders of varying levels, some that were competing at BE events, others that were just starting to jump their horses and a real mixture of experience and age. Despite this differentiation there were many common feelings amongst the riders. They felt nerves contributed negatively to their enjoyment or success as competitive riders. I am a mum of 3 children under 6 years old and returned to riding 4 years ago, after an 18 year break from eventing. I am quite a driven person but put incredible pressures on myself to do well. I can talk the talk, and recognise my competing anxieties but had found them tricky to overcome. This was my reason for booking onto Jo’s workshop.
Jo led the workshop really effectively. She used a variety of teaching styles and techniques so that the participants could meet each other and chat about their worries. Jo was respectful to people’s emotions and privacy so nothing was ‘forced’ or pushed, but as the atmosphere was relaxed people were keen to share thoughts and quite personal experiences. I particularly enjoyed the way that Jo gave us a thorough insight into the psychology behind fear and nervousness when competing or riding at home. She presented this in a coherent manner which really illustrated how much she understands and has studied her specialisation. As well as using well designed power point slides Jo also used film and sound bites which really added to the learning, understanding and conversations between the participants which freely flowed.
Following the ‘theory’ section we looked at the process of how nerves build, and strategies for controlling them when riding and competing. I think this section was useful to everyone and we all could have carried on chatting on for hours. I think a follow up workshop that reflected on the session would be helpful as with their new found skills and knowledge riders could then reflect and develop some really fine tuned skills to help them perform to the max. I really enjoyed the way Jo had used quotes and audio recordings made by pro riders. It gave us all an idea of how those competing at the highest levels still struggle with nerves. I think this put things into perspective for many.
In sum, I found Jo a really warm and helpful person to work with and to listen to. She also seemed genuinely interested in what people had to say and offered plenty of opportunity for chat and personal reflection. She was very inclusive and not at all judgemental. I think one to one sessions with Jo would be a really positive and direct way to work towards ultimate performance and I would highly recommend this route or attending one of Jo’s superb workshops as a starting point in addressing riding nerves, doubts and stresses. Attending the workshop was definitely a positive step in the right direction and I have used many of the visualisation skills that Jo taught us. Ive found this very useful when working through dressage tests. Above all it was useful to hear other riders experiences and understand that I was not unique and that there were positive actions I could make to ensure eventing is a really enjoyable experience for not just me but my support team too. I left the workshop with a very positive buzz, definitely money and time well spent.
Nikki Goldup Grassroots Eventer - www.bandweventing.co.uk
I have been working with Jo since September 2016, having first met her through a riding club demonstration evening. I liked the way she worked with us all and how she made us think. At the time I was struggling with confidence cross country and in particular ditch palisade / trakehner type fences.Jo has a special way of working with you and understanding what you are aiming to achieve. Working with Jo she has given me some great tips on how to deal with my fear and turn my negativity into positivity. Our sessions have now moved on to deal with finer details when riding and competing, as with Jo’s help I have conquered and laid to rest my ditch demons and am now much more confident in my cross country riding, and how to approach and tackle my fences. I would recommend Jo to anyone who is feeling they are struggling in any way, be it about nerves, particular fences, or confidence. Jo will definitely help you turn things around.
Trudy Event Rider
I have always struggled with my nerves when competing and had little self belief. This resulted in me not enjoying competing and having very inconsistent results.
Jo has really helped me to changing my mindset, helping me realise what I did when my competitions went well so I could reproduce the good results. She taught me various stress management techniques and demonstrated the advantages of positive visualisation. I started enjoying my competitions, which was most important as that is why I do it! As a result I started delivering very consistent and improved results.
Sophie van der Merwe Professional Event Rider, 3* International Level