Dressage rider mental health: the struggles people face in a ‘judged’ sport *H&H Plus*

  • Awareness around mental health in sport is growing, and some dressage riders are among those suffering. Polly Bryan investigates whether there is a mental health crisis brewing within our world, and what can be done

    MORE dressage riders than ever are speaking out about their experiences of mental health. While increased awareness can only be positive, the reality is that poor mental health, and its often devastating consequences, is worryingly widespread. It’s time to ask: can dressage incite psychological suffering in a way that differs to the other equestrian disciplines, and what can we do about it?

    Five-time Olympian Carl Hester is one of many big names to have publicly promoted the importance of good mental health in recent years.

    “I don’t necessarily think the situation in dressage is worse than in other disciplines, but dressage is so particular that its participants tend to attract more criticism, very often from the people inside the sport,” he says. “I think most of us would say that we have been negatively criticised – I am at the stage in my career where I am confident in what I do, but it doesn’t stop people questioning what I do.”

    Getting help

    If you’re struggling, there are many places you can turn to for help. These include:

    Riders Minds
    Extensive advice and a confidential hotline

    Riders Helping Riders
    Offering support for victims of bullying

    Advice and support for anyone experiencing a mental health problem

    Offering emotional support to all,

    This exclusive column is also available to read in this Thursday’s H&H magazine (1 April, 2021)

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