Charlotte Ricca-Smith: Being Bold

Our resident blogger, Charlotte Ricca-Smith is back with a brand new blog to tell us how she plans to move on and not let past experiences hold her back…

I’ve come to a decision. This is the last time I will ever mention ‘that’ fall again. If you don’t know what I’m talking about I’m afraid I can’t tell you, you’ll have to read past blogs to find out….

‘Oh, how the mighty have fallen’ – Thrills and Spills for Charlotte Ricca-Smith this month!

This weekend I competed in my first BE90 since ‘that’ incident and, after going clear, I have decided it’s time to move on. I can no longer be defined by something that happened almost a year ago. Since then Pepa and I have won an arena eventing league. We have jumped round Firle (something I have always wanted to do), and we have gone clear in the BE80 at Munstead and the BE90 at Chilham. ‘That’ fall is history, it’s one small blip on an otherwise very successful competition career together and this is what I now have to focus on.

The thing is, I’ve realised I tend to focus on the negative rather than the positive things about me. We went clear at Chilham. Hooray! But when I finished the first thing I said was ‘that wasn’t pretty, but at least we went clear’. And then I looked at the photos and realised it actually was quite pretty (not that it really matters, sometimes you have to go ugly in eventing). That night I went over every fence in my mind before I fell asleep (does anyone else do that?) and realised that out of 19 fences on the course we made an ‘ugly’ jump over just five of them. So that’s 14 decent efforts.

I know the reason why the others weren’t quite so effortless. It was my nerves taking over, causing me to fiddle on approach and interfere with Pepa’s canter. This is something I’ve been working on – and really improving. But just as I was about to start the cross-country at Chilham the course was held for 45 minutes due to a fall. Not what you need when you’re battling with nerves and worrying about jumping your first 90 since ‘that’ event.

I could quite happily have walked away and not jumped, but I knew I would never forgive myself. Instead I tried to maintain focus and gave myself a pep talk – telling me that whatever happened to that rider wouldn’t happen to me.

The only thing we can control when riding is our own performance and I knew I couldn’t let someone else’s fall impact on mine. Although it did. A bit. The first jump was awkward because I hung on to Pepa, but then I apologised to her, promised it wouldn’t happen again and kicked on.

I didn’t completely keep my promise – there were a few fences where I couldn’t see a stride and I started fiddling again, so Pepa had to stick in a short one to compensate (sorry Pepa). But for the rest of the course I kicked on and we flew round.

From now on I’m trying to focus on those 14 jumps and not worry about the odd few that didn’t go quite to plan. With Badminton looming I’m sure we will see more than a few top riders make an ugly jump over a fence, but the main thing is getting over safely and finishing clear. Which is exactly what we did.

So from here on I will not be defined by fear, or a fall, or fiddling before a fence. At my next clinic, or my next event I will not talk about any of these things.  I am a capable event rider, with a bold and talented horse, jumping clear at BE90. And if you hear me say or see me write anything different please feel free to give me a kick up the back-side.

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