June 22, 2017

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.