Tales from the eventing Euros: ‘I’ve been working with a mental coach who has taught me positive self-talk’

For Swiss rider Caroline Gerber, the road to the Longines FEI European Eventing Championships in Luhmühlen (28 August-1 September) has been a long one.

The 26-year-old, who is contesting her first senior championship, bought Tresor de Chignan CH, the horse with whom she is competing in Germany, when he was three-and-a-half in 2010, when she was just 17-years-old.

“My mother was a rider and I spent my childhood producing difficult ponies, and it was only when I was 17 that I started eventing with my other horse at the time,” explains Caroline, who now rides full-time. “To start with I showjumped ‘Tresor’ and we even competed at the Swiss four-year-old showjumping final.”

But it was while Caroline was in England working for eventer Louise Harwood that Tresor got his first taste of eventing.

“I had moved to England with my main horse, Lotus, in the winter of 2011/12 to work for Louise and when I realised I was happy there, I asked my parents to send Tresor over too,” says Caroline. “Tresor actually started his eventing career in the UK — he did three BE90s and three BE100s in 2013. It was really good for me to compete my horses at the lower levels in England as I’m not very good at dressage and as opposed to the rules in Switzerland, you can ride the lower level tests in England in rising trot!”

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By 2014 Caroline was back in Switzerland and Tresor’s international career got underway. He has since faulted across country internationally just twice and has CCI4*-S and CCI4*-L placings, but he has always found the dressage more of a struggle than the jumping phases.

“I’ve recently been working with a mental coach who has taught me positive self-talk and helped me to have a more positive attitude towards the dressage, as Tresor is very sensitive to noise and what he can see. So now when weare in the arena, I try to focus on the instructions my dressage trainer has taught me and try my best to transmit the message to Tresor that we can do it while we’re performing our test — I love Tresor though because he always just wants to please,” explains Caroline.

Check back for more updates from the Eventing European Championships in Luhmühlen all week, plus full report in next week’s Horse & Hound magazine (dated 5 September).