Catching up with our sponsored rider Philippa.

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Catching up with our sponsored rider Philippa.

champs rosettes

When Sharon asked me to write a blog, I wasn’t quite sure where to start. I’ve never written one before, so this is a first. And it’s a theme of ‘firsts’ that I’m going to stick with.


As you’ll know from the introductory post, Wiggins is the first ex-racehorse that I’ve owned. Through him I’ve had my first attempts at affiliated dressage, ridden at my first championships and had my first broken bones! But I’ve also had many firsts since working with Sharon – not just when I’m riding like when we tried our first flying changes – but unmounted as well, through our mindset sessions.


As a typical Yorkshire lass, I’ve been very much brought up to have a ‘get on with it’ attitude – we’re very hardy us Yorkshire folk. Counselling, therapy, mindset and anything else in that sort of vein have never been something that’s been on my radar. When Sharon said a monthly mindset session was part of the sponsorship, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was sceptical. However, they are not like I expected. I have learned so much about what I can and can’t control, how to deal with the things I can’t control, how to turn a perceived negative into a positive, how to reduce tension when riding…the list goes on. The sessions really are helping me to reframe things and put a positive spin on them when they don’t go the way I wanted or hoped. And I’m not being paid to say this.


Take the RoR regional championships as an example. Last year, they were an unmitigated disaster (and I know that’s not putting a positive spin on it, but they really were). Someone even told me I should have Wiggins put to sleep because he was ‘screwed in the head’. I was determined to qualify again this year but was incredibly anxious about them, hoping it wouldn’t be a repeat performance.


I worry about everything – from the weather to the warm-up arena, to thinking I’ll forget the test halfway through to Wiggins being beside himself with fear. So dragging myself out to the champs again was a big ask. BUT! During the mindset sessions we worked on a plan for the warm-up, we worked on what to do if it was raining, we worked on what to do if the test went wrong, we worked on what to do if Wiggins was wound up. And as if someone knew all the things that we’d been working on, when the day came for the champs, we had all the above thrown at us!


The weather was dire, I forgot a bit of the test (which I haven’t told Sharon) and lost 2 marks, the warm-up was packed, and Wiggins was shaking like a leaf as soon as I pulled the trailer ramp down. But do you know what? Despite all of that we came 3rd – just missing out on our qualifying ticket for the nationals at Aintree. And do you know why? Because I stuck to the plan. When I saw Wiggins was shaking, I knew I had to be calm for him so I focused on my breathing and stayed calm. When it was absolutely pouring down, I just thought, ‘What’s the worst that can happen? We’ll get wet.’ When the warm-up arena was packed, I stuck to my guns and did the warm-up I wanted to do. When the judge rang the bell to say I’d gone wrong, I just re-rode the movement correctly without panicking. And doing all that paid off. And it was everything we’d talked about during our mindset sessions. 

 wiggins champs

Sharon’s talking about hypnosis next…my next blog might have pictures of me dancing like a chicken – who knows?! (I don’t think that’s what she has in mind.)


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