‘The harder you work, the luckier you’ll get’ — and other sound pieces of advice top riders live by

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  • Surrounding yourself with experienced people and heeding their advice is a fast-track route to success. So we asked our top riders what the best (or funniest) piece of advice they have been given over the years is

    Laura Collett, eventer (pictured, above)

    Yogi Breisner said to me when I was waiting to go cross-country at the European Pony Championships in 2005: “Believe in yourself because I do.” That has always stuck with me.

    Lydia Hannon, eventer

    When I was doing juniors, I used to get quite nervous before the dressage. Just before I went down the centre line at one event, a friend said, “Lydia don’t worry, just remember, judges s**t too” — it gave me the giggles and helped me relax.

    Rebecca Hughes, dressage rider

    Competing young horses at their first show is always nerve-wracking and I remember Michel Assouline telling me to lead them in-hand “until they are bored 
into submission” before getting on. I now always wait until the horse is quiet before mounting.

    James Harper, polo player

    That to improve a horse you need to spend more time riding and working with them. I probably do twice as much of this as I used to, although they still get plenty of downtime in the paddock.

    Lucy Jackson, eventer

    “Just look at the f***ing pole!” — Jonelle Price shouted that to me at team training pre-London 2012 when I was having a total meltdown about my inability to canter to a placing role. She was right. When I was younger, I was told: “Don’t panic. The harder you work, the luckier you’ll get”. It’s stood me in fairly good stead.

    Stuart Hollings, showing producer and judge

    Our friend Stella Harries taught my brother Nigel and myself to never become complacent in the ring and to compete to win every time — even if you think you have a championship in the bag.

    Jessica Mendoza, showjumper

    Dad [Paul Mendoza] always says you just need to go quicker than everyone else and keep the fences up!

    Harriet Nuttall, showjumper

    My mum saying: “Remember to breathe”. It’s great advice, but I hope by now that’s the one thing I have sorted.

    Nina Clarkin, polo player

    I was about 12 and about to start the cross-country phase when I nervously mentioned I might need to go to the loo. The old stalwart lady on the starting box told me that I should never ride with a full bladder as if I fell off my ribs could puncture my bladder and that would slowly poison me to death. Terrified the life out of me and I now ALWAYS go to the loo just before my game starts!

    Matt Frost, dressage rider

    A wise old soul said: “Row your own boat and make sure the people in it with you aren’t drilling holes.”

    Continued below…

    Claire Hart, point-to-point jockey

    When I worked for Henrietta Knight, I remember schooling one day and Terry [Biddlecombe] shouted, ‘drop your f***ing irons!’ It taught me that it is far better to ride a bit longer. It balances you better and you can actually ride the horse.

    Becky Edwards, dressage rider

    My mum is a bit of a stress head and would panic at the slightest thing, until show producer Carol Gilbert-Scott taught us that there is always a solution and no need to panic. Now, instead of going into panic mode, we find a solution.

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