Charlotte Ricca-Smith: Taking on 2017


Here’s to a VERY Unstressy 2017!

The older I get the less I feel like celebrating New Year’s Eve. I can barely stay awake till midnight, let along crack open a bottle a bubbles!

Clean Sheet

I do love the start of a New Year. It feels like a clean sheet and an opportunity to put into practice all those things I said I’d do last year. And the year before that. Most of my resolutions involve being a more patient mum and wife. My 2016 report card reads ‘could do better’. I suppose it’s better than ‘see me after school’, but what I’d really like to get in 2017 is an A-star. This is fairly typical of me – to set the bar (or showjump) too high and then berate myself when I don’t reach my goals. It adds unnecessary pressure, and can take all the fun out of life.

Go Easy On Myself

So perhaps another New Year’s resolution should be to go easy on myself. Maybe if I cut myself some slack, I’d be more willing to go easy on others. I know that when I have a certain goal in mind, it can make me pretty blinkered to other people’s needs.  Last year I had my eye on qualifying for the Mitsubishi Motors Cup – the grassroots event held at Badminton. Such was my focus and determination that my husband hardly got a look-in and my children complained that I was ‘always riding’. They did have a point…

Then I had a fall at Rackham in June, which saw me side-lined for most of the season with a broken collarbone and cracked rib. And a kinder, more relaxed version of me started to emerge.

Competition Goals

So another challenge for 2017, is how I can hold onto that calmer, nicer person this season, but also achieves my competition goals? British Eventing kicks off in just six weeks and part of me is excited to get out eventing again, but the other half is wondering why I put myself through it. Pepa and I have had a great winter so far, with a couple of wins in arena eventing, and we even went out with Coakham Bloodhounds. But I can’t quite mentally move on from the fall. My collarbone still hurts, which is a constant reminder of its fragility, even though it’s probably stronger than before the accident. I’ve noticed I now approach a fence with my body upright and rigid and my chin stuck up in the air, as if by holding my head up I can somehow avoid hitting the deck, if Pepa falls again.

Break the Cycle

I’m hoping once I’ve got a few BE events under my belt my former belief in Pepa will return.  She is on great form – and is such a confidence giver. I need to remember how nervous I was when I first got her 18 months ago, and far we have come. I’m also considering trying cognitive behavioural therapy to help break the cycle of anxiety and tension. I’d love to hear from any of you that have used this to help when competing. Or any other techniques you have tried to conquer your nerves.

Here’s to a very unstressy 2017.

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