RIDER STORY - ISSY CARLILL
I’d lost a lot of confidence after spending more time falling off my horse than staying on! After selling her and buying a new horse, I realised just how shattered my confidence actually was. The thought of riding made me feel anxious and jump lessons were terrifying. I can so clearly remember how my body used to be overcome with nerves and completely shut down, leaving me frozen in the saddle. I came to Helen because my goal was to learn how to control my nerves, so that I could start eventing again (having previously evented to Pony Club Intermediate level). It was devastating to lose all the confidence I once had, and I knew I needed help to rebuild it.
How did Helen help?
She started by helping me to identify my goals in the long and short term, and then we discussed what happened to me when I got nervous.
We worked bit by bit, focusing on key issues. Helen provided me with coping mechanisms varying from breathing techniques, visualation, positive mantras to full hypnosis. I chose which ones worked best for me, and continue to use them today. The best part about Helen is all this can be done over Skype, so it’s very easy to fit into a busy working life.
What were the most useful techniques/tools that you learnt?
My favourites were the positive mantras, after repeating them regularly I’d find myself naturally saying them to myself at competitions. They give you a confidence boost when you need it the most! I also love the hypnosis. It puts me in a deep state of relaxation, which means I’m able to address any fear or concerns, or ride through my course without the feelings of nerves or anxiety. It’s a great way to visualise your success in the most relaxed and effective way possible.
How did sessions with Helen help/benefit you?
Helen helped me to address the crippling anxiety and nerves I felt when riding, and particularly when jumping my horse. She gave me the ability to address my nerves, both with instant and long-term methods. Being given coping methods was a complete turning point, you begin to realise that you can cope with nerves, that you can overcome them, and that you can perform even if you have anxieties. It’s very freeing!
What did you achieve as a result of working with Helen?
I have achieved so much that I’m not even sure I can put it all into words! I have overcome my nerves, I love my riding and my jumping again and I no longer feel an overwhelming sense of fear everytime I get in the saddle. I now look forward to it. The person who was once scared of a 70cm fence now jumps 1m20 confidently. I never thought that would be me, but it is!
Since working with Helen I started eventing again and have had 2 season at BE. I have learnt how to cope with my nerves and how to control them. I now know they are good thing (when controlled) because they give you the adrenaline you need to perform. Competitions have gone from being a thing of fear, that I felt I had to do, to something I genuinely have fun at and enjoy, and want to do. I’m in control, calm, positive and focused in every phase. I know I can do it! Two years ago taking my newly bought, green and inexperienced horse eventing seemed like a distant dream. I didn’t think I was good enough or brave enough to do it, so taking him up to BE100 and riding double clears has been so rewarding! I couldn’t have done it without working with Helen!
What would you say to a rider thinking about working with Helen?
100% do it! If you are struggling with nerves or self doubt it is the one thing I would seriously recommend to help you. I’m so glad a friend encouraged me to pursue sports psychology, it has changed my life. I am a more confident, positive and powerful rider because of it. Working with Helen will give you the tools to cope, which allows you to be more successful in yourself.