Born to a family of horse riders, my Mum tells me I first started riding when I was 4, not that long after I’d learned to walk!
I used to be a competitive rider. I would regularly compete and I enjoyed training with my horse most days.
I was never the most confident of riders in my younger years, but two riding accidents meant my confidence fell off a cliff and fear was making even the most gentle of rides terrifying.
First, with a horse-riding accident where my horse spooked and slipped on wet grass, falling on me and breaking my leg.
And a few years later when I’d lost my focus dismounting, fell off my horse and fractured my knee.
There is, however, a happy ending to this story and I’m very glad to say that you can recover from the biggest set-backs and fears with the right tools.
Horses are in
In my early twenties, I bought a young Irish horse. He was seriously talented and that’s when I decided to start eventing at the pre-novice stage. I loved dressage and cross country. I was very successful with him and once I’d achieved what I wanted, I decided to retire. He, however, was destined for bigger things and with me training him six days a week, went on to do a higher level of eventing.
I was so proud watching him perform, knowing that my training was providing the foundations he needed to win with his rider.
I loved dressage and cross country,
nothing beats the exhilaration of
galloping across open fields
I like to try new things and after eventing, decided to give side-saddle riding a go. With a fellow rider, I would go to country fairs to do demonstrations complete with full Victorian riding costume.
At the time I was the BHS County Chair for Cheshire and TREC was still under the BHS umbrella. There was something very appealing about being able to go to a stately home and take your horse with you and the society members wanted to see more of TREC.
So we found the experts we needed and started putting on TREC events in the area. I loved them so much, I started running my own TREC camps and competing in TREC too.
It was at a competition that my horse spooked and slipped on wet grass, falling on me and breaking my leg. After that, I lost my confidence on grass and would panic, freeze and get off my horse as it felt like the safest option. I knew I couldn’t carry on letting the fear eat away at me.
Horsemanship training was a gamechanger after my accident
I sought a horsemanship trainer to fix my horse. After all, it was his behaviour that had meant I’d fallen, right?
I soon discovered it’s usually us humans that need the training. I needed to learn my horse’s language and be the leader he needed me to be. Accepting I was a key part of the problem was a gamechanger for the way we worked together as horse and rider and I still use those horsemanship techniques with my clients today.
Performance and Mindset Coaching
for competitive riders
It was not long after this that a friend introduced me to NLP. I was sceptical but decided to be her guinea pig whilst she was training. I couldn’t believe the difference it made to me as a person, how it helped me to reprogramme long-held unwanted beliefs.
I trained as a NLP Practitioner, Coach and Hypnotherapist in 2016 to help myself with an on-going work issue, but it wasn’t long before I started using the techniques I had trained in whilst hosting TREC camps, which the attendees loved.
It was during a camp a lady I was riding with told me she’d been utterly petrified, but my belief in her and the words I’d used to calm her had made all the difference to her ride. That was the turning point for me, I decided to go all in and get as many qualifications as I could so I could become a Performance and Mindset Coach. I loved being able to help people on my TREC camps and I wanted to do more.
As an ex-eventer and dressage rider, I had the skills, knowledge and horsemanship training to help other eventers and competition riders. I also knew that there was a connection between horsemanship and mindset coaching. Horsemanship is a conscious technique, but if your unconscious mind is screaming “but what if this happens?” from the rooftops, it’s not going to work. Performance really is 90% mental and 10% physical.
So I set to work and became a Master NLP practitioner, a Master Empowered Equestrian Coach, an Advanced Applied Psychology Equestrian Coach, Master Hypnotherapist, and an advanced Solution Focused Hypnotherapist.
Fast forward to today, and I now work with eventers and competitive riders from around the world and sponsor a Para Dressage Rider, whose goal is to be part of the paralympic team. We work together as a team to break through what’s holding you back and to help you realise and achieve all the goals you’re capable of, but often don’t realise.
“I’m a Grade II Para Dressage rider, who despite moving forward successfully in able bodied and Para Dressage with my self-trained mare, lacked self-belief.
I felt I was always knocking on the door of my dream without knowing how to walk in.
Julia has, via a carefully tailored plan (which even includes daily tasks), raised my levels of motivation and confidence to train and compete with real focus once Lockdown has lifted.
This has seeped into every aspect of my life and I find that I’m more forward thinking and positive than I thought possible. The effect is incredible and uplifting and I’m able to turn negatives into positives.
I can’t recommend Julia’s coaching highly enough; it’s life changing and powerful.”
Deborah Parkinson Wicks - Para Dressage Rider