Confidence is one of the greatest feelings in the world, but it takes years to build and is extremely fragile. Emily Bevan meets one rider who struggles with nerves in the warm up area.

Having a plan in place has been important for Becki Holmes, who is bipolar and has Asperger’s, as she made the transition from hacking into the competition arena.

“I decided to have a go at the Wobbleberry Challenge but I was very naïve and didn’t realise how much it entailed,” admits Becki. “My Asperger’s means I often struggle to leave the house so for me to go to a competition was huge. There were so many people watching and the warm up terrified me.

“I used to get so nervous and worry people would think I couldn’t ride — once I was sick four times before going cross-country.”

Becki worked hard with performance and mindset coach Jenni Winter-Leach to get to the root of her confidence issues, which stemmed from a lack of belief in her ability, and she has implemented measures to help combat those issues.

“I have a strict routine in the warm-up arena, which I follow religiously. I don’t walk in the warm up as it gives me too much time to think, and I know how many times I’m riding around the arena and how many practice jumps I’m doing,” explains Becki.

She finds the familiarity of competing at the same venues also helps her confidence, as she feels more secure.

“My general anxiety is so much higher when I can’t get out regularly, so Covid lockdowns were hard and I definitely lost confidence again. I keep reminding myself that other people are just as nervous and try not to put pressure on myself. My aim is to enjoy my horse, get around and have fun; our finishing place is irrelevant.”

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