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In It To Win It – Rider Confidence

In It To Win It – Rider Confidence

The one thing I can say that all the elite athletes I work or have worked with, have in common, in a variety of sports is, confidence! Bundles of it! They whole heartedly believe in themselves, will not let any single person get in their way and move them out of the way if they do. ’No’ or ‘cant’ is just not an option and although many think they can be ‘right twats’ at times, you’ve got to be like that, to make it to the top! Im not saying the way to get there is to be an asshole, but what I am saying is that if you don’t have confidence, you definitely won’t get there!

I am fortunate that I am a confident person, and I think it is due to working with those world class athletes along with being confident myself, that I have realised how many riders lack that essential self belief! I firmly believe in the saying, ‘If you do not have confidence in yourself, how can anyone else?’ May I also add… ‘particularly your horse?’

From treating both horse and rider, spending time with each, through the biomechanics sessions and watching various lessons, I have seen that due to our sport relying on two athletes, the rider very easily blames the horse! It’s also sometimes coaches, at all levels, ‘pick him up a bit, he isn’t bending around your inside leg, he’s not balanced between transitions.’ Its always he or she, why cant it be, ‘you need to pick your hands up a little, and lift your upper body, you are not using your inside leg enough’ etc… I was so pleased to sit in on some of international dressage rider and judge, Peter Storr’s sessions recently, the difference from start to finish was incredible, and one of the riders just couldn’t believe the transformation when he told her to do this that and the other, minor tweaks but ones that made a huge difference to the overall picture.

Of course horses have their negatives, but so do we as riders, and one could argue more than a horse. So unfortunately many of the riders that have had the biomechanics sessions have had me focussing on both, whether it is liked or not. There is one rider who I thought Il either get kicked out of this arena or I will be hailed a hero, luckily it was the latter, but I think it took a little while for them to accept the fact, after the marked improvement, that actually a large part of their problems was themselves!

Comparative Sports:

Riding is a sport, and with a sport you have to train if you want to compete. Rugby players go to the gym and do pilates, Tom Daley does ballet and circuit training. So my point being, you need to do other things than just ride! Yes you can really only getting ‘riding fit’ by riding, but the sport is thankfully changing, and riders are also realising that even a fancy new horse wont necessarily get you there. Yes horse power plays a large role in our sport, that can affect confidence greatly, but I always believe ‘hard work out weighs talent, if talent doesn’t put in the hard work.’

At what ever level you are at, if you are wanting to be competitive, then you need to make sure before you set foot in that arena, that you have done the best you can in regards to preparation. I feel that really is the first essential step for confidence, being as well prepared as you can be, and sometimes that means thinking out of the box! If you are huffing and puffing as you get out of the ring after one course, or one test, get your trainers on and get doing some interval training and aerobic exercise. if you are always ‘dropping’ one hip and lifting one shoulder, have yourself looked at. The amount of clients that finally realise why they have been screamed at for so many years, just by me doing a few simple exercises with them and treating them is incredible!

Next step – self confidence!

People with greater self esteem usually have greater self confidence so if you have some unsolved weaknesses, they make you unconfident, thus they make the horse unconfident and eventually the horse will start going in a way to compensate for this. If you know you have worked as hard as you can to help yourself and your horse, then that is half the battle to confidence. If you don’t think your going to win it, its more than likely you won’t. So I thought some of the best people to ask on this subject, were a double olympic medalist, Astier Nicolas, professional dressage rider Laura Wollen and show jumper Harry Bateman.

Top riders thoughts:

Astier Nicolas – ‘You need to want to win enough, and trust yourself and your horse’.

Laura Wollen – ‘I had a real awakening at the nationals this year. I am normally a super prepared, cool customer, but at the nationals because I didn’t have any hands on the ground in the morning and cutting it tight on time, I got very uncharacteristically stressed. I normally always give myself ample time to get ready, arena walk, primp the pony, sit in the lorry for 10 minutes to get in a zone and think about my test, but I just had no time. The second I got in the arena the horse could tell, and I made silly mistakes, so I will never let that situation occur again’.

Harry Bateman – ‘Good preparation, at home and in the warm up. Confidence bounces between horse and rider!’

Laura still pulled off 67% in the medium gold so I am sure it wasn’t that terrible, but it shows what ill preparation can do to your confidence! What ever your routine or technique is, have something that makes you feel confident and therefore your horse feel confident. Its always about setting realistic goals at home and implementing them just as much there as you would want to at a show. At an event it can be having someone on the sideline, self talk or visualisation. Studies in mental imagery have shown that the brain cannot distinguish from a real or an imaginary picture. The same chemicals release and the same electrical activity displays in the brain whether we are visualising something or actually doing it. A repeated thought, or feeling, can actually become a belief over time. Have you ever been constantly thinking about a particular outcome in a positive sense that you actually felt good about it?

What I mean is that you can actually train your mind to be confident. So I use visualisation, when I used to ride competitively I ran with really pumped up music and imagined myself winning my next event. My lap of honour, my rosette everything, again to the point that I thoroughly believed before I went in that arena that I would win.

Confidence doesn’t happen overnight but with time and techniques it will come, so before you get riding at home tomorrow, have a play with different techniques and see what works well for you. I’d be really intrigued to hear about what you have found works for you. So please do email me with them.

But always remember one crucial thing, enjoy it!!!!

Rider Confidence

Good luck everyone, Dee xx

Sponsored rider Astier Nicolas and Ben dominate at Rio Olympics

Sponsored rider Astier Nicolas and Ben dominate at Rio Olympics

Whole new level of proud! I have known Astier and Ben for about six years now and it’s been a huge learning curve working with them.
Astier is the first true professional I ever worked with, and as much as we have had our amusing ‘moments’ ;),  I have always admired his absolute determination, persistence & self belief! He adores his horses and although I’m very fortunate now to treat more of the horses and riders on the world stage, his riding always amazes me. Ben is just the epitome of a gentleman and has looked after me on many occasions. It wasn’t so long ago he had me in my work clothes & a grooms hat riding Ben up his gallops. All he told me was ‘what ever happens, don’t f******* fall off’, as he took off at the speed of notts on his quickest horse – aptly named Quicky! For those that know Astier and ‘the princess’ Im sure you can picture the scene!
Both myself and Astier are very strong minded individuals, and watching him go round that cross country course at the Rio Olympics , reminded why it is so important to believe in yourself!
For riders it’s essential as if you don’t believe in yourself, nor will your horse!
Very excited for the showjumping tomorrow, with them currently lying in an incredible third position!!!! Credit to you Astier, you showed all those that didn’t believe a thing or two, and I feel very lucky to have you as a sponsored rider, but most importantly, a great friend.
…Take risks, be brave and kick on folks….

Rio Olympics 2016 Astier Nicolas and Ben

Dee 🙂


Africa and Rio Olympics bound… Let the games begin!

Africa and Rio Olympics bound… Let the games begin!

Its an incredibly exciting time for Dynamic Sports Therapy and come August 5th it will get even more, with the Rio Olympics! I am currently in Zimbabwe and fly out to South Africa later this morning and then off to Mozambique to see Mandy and Pat, of whom wrote the international best seller ‘104 horses’. I used to work for them, taking out to safari rides along the stunning Mozambique beaches, before going over to work on one of the islands. Like many folk that I met out here, they have become incredibly fond friends and I look forward to treating the horses and riding back on those beaches again. I am also meeting one of my wonderful sponsors Jo Hansford photography out there, as we are combing a holiday with some photo shoots. One will be for the fabulous Derrière Equestrian, which I am very excited about and another for Jo, as her ability to capture different types of images with the horses is phenomenal and hey, what an excuse ;). So Il keep you updated on Instagram with that and a new blog asap.

Before I left the UK, I realised that my one month out of Gloucestershire is probably a tad too long, as ‘hectic with work’ was an understatement. Of course Hartpury dressage was soon to be on, along with some key eventing and showjumping comps. But it is what it is and luckily I saw everyone, both 2 legged and 4 legged that I needed to see before I left :). It is peak season here in Africa for wildlife viewing, and I have been treated to seeing elephants left right and center, cheetah for 2 hours very close, which is incredibly rare, giraffe, wildebeest, my favorite bird, a lilac breasted roller and everything else except Rhino, which is a great shame. But due to the current poaching situation I am just pleased that they are being kept safe. Ive got t say that due to living life back in the UK to a very strict diary, it is very refreshing to not have an itinerary every day, and anyone that has been to Africa will know that nothing ever happens quickly here!

Just yesterday I saw the news that 2 of my sponsored riders, Astier Nicolas and Ben and Natasha Baker and JP were definitely off to the Rio Olympics! Im so excited for them, both Astier and Natasha are two people that have had to work extra hard to get where they are now and its an absolute privilege to work with them. Charlotte and Carl who are of course normally down the road are also all set and I wish them well, Charlotte has been in the gym a lot in preparation for the Rio Olympics and I admire her ambitious nature, along with leading the way with strength and conditioning for the rider. So all in all I am going to be very excited to be back in Gloucestershire to cheer them on, and hopefully come Japan il be heading on another plane :). I only have to look at these 2 and know that you must not dream dreams, but live them, so that is the net goal!

Right Ive got a plane to catch, so for now goodbye, love from a very excited and soon to be very tanned, Dee x


Astier Nicolas Eventing | Piaf De B'neville |Dee Holdsworth | Rider and Equine Sports Massage Therapy | Gloucestershire | Rio Olympics Dee Holdsworth | Natsha Baker | GB Team Training | Rider and Equine Sports Massage Therapy | Gloucestershire

Last Blog of 2014! Changes & Challenges

Last Blog of 2014! Changes & Challenges


The last Blog of 2014
So much has happened this year, some massive highs and some very sad lows! From 2014 I have learnt I really have to push myself more and the saying attached is something I will be taking forward into 2015. Its a brilliant saying to go into the New Year with as I have seen so many clients wanting to stay in that ‘comfort zone’ and Ive pushed them and their horses and they have just gone way beyond even what I expected – so I think I need to take note out of my own book!

The beginning of the year was a hard one and a bitter blow having to stand in front of one of the most beautiful and genuine horses Ive had the pleasure of working with, along with his owner as he was put to sleep. I get so attached to some of the horses I treat, especially the ones I see on a regular basis and that guy happened to have a very special place in my heart, and I felt honored to be asked to be there. Hes made me even more determined to succeed!

Some exciting news going forward is that I will be working two days a week at the prestigious Regency Clinic in Cheltenham – Im very excited to work with such an incredible and diverse team and learn so much more! In 2015 I am going to be on the road a lot with all my sponsored riders & clients, Astier is all geared up to make it to Rio in 2016, Stefs horses are working really well & will be out to strut their stuff, Robert & Claire have some brilliant new horses in, as well as the regular stars on the yard who will be looking forward to getting all that mud off and their coat gloss on for the summer shows! Gloucester Rugby are doing well and I am so excited for the rugby sevens season to start with 7Bamboos!
….there may well be a few other things, bigger things, on the cards for Dynamic so keep up to date on FB, twitter (which I promise I will be better at) and on the website. Remember if there’s anything you’d like to see on either, just let me know.
Enjoy the rest of 2014 and cheers to a very prosperous and busy 2015!

Jo Hansford’s blog on our Dynamic Sports Massage photo shoot

Jo Hansford’s blog on our Dynamic Sports Massage photo shoot

Used to taking photos of the likes of Mary and Emily King, and the Spanish Riding School of Vienna – I had the most glorious day and now have the most glorious photos for my business.

See more about the shoot here.

Take a look at my blog below on the day 🙂

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