Confidence is a fragile thing, and can be lost in a number of ways. Whether you’re an amateur or elite competitor, many riders battle nerves at some point.

Emily Bevan finds out how three-time Badminton winner Pippa Funnell has learned to manage her own confidence demons over the years.

“Lots of elements affect confidence, and those of us who have been eventing a long time have all experienced stages of being at the top of our game and very confident, and lacking in confidence at rock bottom,” says Pippa.

“A few years ago, I had a run of nasty falls and injuries to some horses, which really affected my confidence and left me questioning whether I still wanted to do the sport. I made the decision that I did, so I told my mind to shut up and moved on.

“The key thing for me about confidence is your state of mind. It’s an easy sport in which to become tired and run down. You can easily become demoralised if things don’t go to plan, but don’t be too hard on yourself, we all have ups and downs.

“I used to get very nervous at big three-day events like Badminton and Burghley, as I would only have one or two horses to ride and would have too much time to think.

“After speaking to a sports psychologist, I found ways to combat those nerves, such as implementing a system whereby I would deal with the course when I walked it and wouldn’t allow myself to stew on it when I was in bed at night.

“Ride horses you are happy and comfortable with — if you trust your horse that makes you confident.

“Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and remember to have fun.”

Main image: Shutterstock

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