Jodie Hall McAteer: ‘The glitz and glamour of elite showjumping may appeal on Instagram, but logistically it can prove exhausting’


  • British showjumper Jodie Hall McAteer is a young star of the sport, regularly competing at five-star level. She rides for GCL team New York Empire. In her latest H&H column, she discusses rider mental health and a change of base for her and her horses

    I have just returned from competing in the Global Champions League (GCL) Super Cup Final at the Global Champions Prague Playoffs, where I was the under-25s rider for Georgina Bloomberg’s New York Empire team.

    It’s one of the calendar’s most spectacular events, held in a sold-out O2 Arena, and the atmosphere is one of a kind. Being part of the “Walk of Champions” parade alongside some of the best riders in the world is an unforgettable feeling and although I can still feel out of place besides them, it’s remarkable.

    It was my third year at the playoffs – I guess you could say I am becoming a veteran! The competition did not quite go our way as my team was knocked out in the quarter finals but I was delighted to take second in Saturday’s feature class with Hardessa, who continued her strong form from Horse of the Year Show.

    It’s a rewarding feeling when it all comes together on one of the most prestigious stages in the world and even more so when a partnership starts to be consistent.

    It’s not all glitz and glamour

    Equestrianism is an all-consuming lifestyle and in showjumping there is no off season. It is not as simple as just putting the racket away. In the last month alone I have travelled to seven different countries, competed at three international shows, two national shows and had about one day to myself to recover from it all!

    The glitz and glamour may appeal on Instagram, but logistically it can prove exhausting, not only for me but for everyone else helping to keep the show on the road.

    As showjumpers the most common question we ask one another is, “Where are you off to next?” The majority will then reel off a long list of shows they’ve lined up. Sometimes I feel myself getting caught up in the hustle culture of the industry, worrying about where I should be rather than appreciating where I am.

    Equestrians can have a long career if we look after ourselves, it is a marathon not a sprint, so it’s essential to go at your own pace.

    I was interviewed recently by Horse & Country TV for the Mollie Summerland: Mental Health Awareness programme to discuss how I handle the sport’s inevitable highs and lows. Mental wellbeing is extremely important, and it is refreshing to see more riders sharing their own experience of setbacks and how they overcome them.

    In my calendar I like to have some breathing space to train without a countdown to a start bell for a particular class on a particular day. Spending so much time constantly travelling can also induce a severe case of “show sickness”, so it’s nice to refresh and live a life with more to it than just horses.

    No place like home

    With GCL commitments finished for the year and no World Cups to target, I have made the decision to move my horses back to the UK and work more closely with my family’s stables.

    I’ve spent the past three years based with my trainer Ben Schröder at BWG Stables in the Netherlands, and while we’ll continue working together, I’m excited to take on the challenge of thinking for myself more. Alongside learning a system, management and riding, I’ve come away from BWG with the knowledge that it’s more than acceptable to eat cake for breakfast, especially when someone has won or fallen off!

    Many British riders have moved to Europe in recent years to work, train and compete overseas but speaking from experience there really is no place like home. Britain is a horse-orientated country with strong professional and upcoming riders. It’s unfortunate that many feel obliged to leave their lives here in attempts to better themselves. I hope this is something that can change and the opportunity to develop becomes more accessible on home soil, but that is a subject for next time!

    ● Do you think riders are doing enough to maintain their mental wellbeing? Let us know at hhletters@futurenet.com, including your name, nearest town and county, for the chance to have your thoughts published in a future edition of Horse & Hound magazine

    • This exclusive column will also be available to read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 30 November, 2023

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