It may come as no surprise that equestrian superstars such as Charlotte Dujardin and others struggle with confidence from time to time, after all, they are only human. With great power comes great responsibility after all. The more they win, the more their fans and even trainers expect them to win. The pressure is on and comes not just from inside but relentless outside forces as well.
And yet, we often put them on a pedestal thinking they are better than us in every way. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Yes, they may have more time and finesse in the saddle, but they are just people pursuing their passion and trying to be their best.
I confess that sometimes I still forget. In my life, I have been lucky enough to spend one-on-one time with Hollywood celebrities at galas, fundraisers, and events. What I find most refreshing is how “normal” they are. They are just people with a job to do that puts them in the public eye. While some relish the limelight, others find it a downside to their jobs. The same is true with equestrian professionals. As a writer and photographer, I will often cover events like Longines Masters and the Jersey Fresh Three-Day Event for my own blog or a magazine. As a result, I am interacting with big names in the horse world, or see them walking around just like anyone else trying to see the course or taking care of their horses. There are a few names that I would internally squeal in delight to meet but I keep it to myself. No one wants to be “that” girl. After all, I’m a professional.
The one unerring truth is that even these big names, especially these equestrians, struggle periodically with confidence.
Jackie Siu (Dressage)
Jackie Siu is an international Grand Prix Dressage rider from Hong Kong, now currently located in the United Kingdom. She has represented Asia in three Asian Games and was a former Young Rider Champion as well. While she was preparing for the Longines Hong Kong Masters she talked to me about confidence. Her message for timid riders?
“The main thing to understand is that every rider goes through ups and downs, this is normal. It’s important to not pressurize yourself even more or get frustrated with yourself when you are in one of those low points. Be patient, remember why you want to ride in the first place, because really that’s what it’s all about, always, no matter what level you are riding at. It’s about enjoying the relationship you can build with a horse, a happy partnership, the amazing reward this gives us riders.”
Thank you, Jackie!
You can also see a snippet of her interview below where she talks about her experiences.
Ros Canter (Eventing)
Rosalind Canter is a British eventer who became World Champion in 2018. Not only did she win Individual Gold (and as a result, Team Britain earned the Gold) in showjumping at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, NC but she was named Professional Rider of the Year at the 2018 Horse & Hound Magazine Awards as well.
Elisa Wallace is a 4-star three-day event rider and advocates for rider safety and women in sport. She was listed as an alternate for the 2016 US Olympic team and continues to work toward achieving her life-long dream of representing the USA in international competition. Elisa is passionate about her work with American mustangs, aimed at demonstrating the potential of this misunderstood breed by developing one up to the Advanced level in the sport of three-day eventing.
Losing confidence happens to all equestrians. That doesn’t make you a bad rider, it makes you human. These top-level athletes acknowledge their nerves and find positive ways to keep moving forward to accomplish their dreams and pursue their passions. So the next time you think you aren’t good enough, know that you aren’t alone. We have all fallen down. The difference is whether or not you will pick yourself up and keep moving forward.
Have you had someone who has helped to support and motivate you?