Laura Tomlinson: ‘Focusing on the process is key to longevity’


  • Laura Tomlinson shares how shifting perspective has helped her training

    HAPPY new year to all readers! After a double championship year in 2021, which was filled with many medals across the disciplines, 2022 has big shoes to fill. But with a World Championships in Denmark on the horizon, it should be another exciting year of sport.

    I saw in the new year while feeding the newest member of my family, who is eight weeks old at the time of writing, so I am in the thick of it. The World Championships seem like a distant dream for me, but my sights are set firmly on getting to them nonetheless.

    It will be a challenge for me to go from a team reserve this year to actually being on a championship team again, but it is in having goals that I find some normality – or at least hope of normality being a reality again soon.

    My horses are feeling good and I am building up what we do, ready to compete in a couple of national “warm-up” shows come February, with a plan to get out internationally again in March.

    I believe this year will be another one where adaptability will be key; with the Covid pandemic not yet waning, plans will change and change again, and all those involved in competitive sport of any sort will have to roll with the punches.

    Having a family and training in tandem

    I HAVE started listening to The High Performance Podcast, and listening to rugby legend Jonny Wilkinson on it recently, it was fascinating to hear how his perspective has changed over the years. I feel that mine has, too.

    I have no less ambition, but I do feel less focused on outcomes and more able to focus on and enjoy the process. Competing in a sport with such longevity, I have realised that this is key to maintaining good mental health within dressage. Our ability to enjoy the process, rather than defining ourselves by our “last game”, is hugely important.

    For me, with all the added pressures of having a big and young family, I have realised that I must see my training as a daily meditation – it’s my time out from other duties. My family is my time out from my sport, where I can be the other part of who I am, and forgive myself if I didn’t perform well enough as “career me” that day.

    “More must be done to educate”

    THE lengthy debate around having three riders on the team for the Olympics instead of four appears to be over; the rule seems here to stay and so it is time to move on.

    It seemed to be mostly the strongest European nations arguing for teams of four, the most compelling argument being that four members means less pressure on horses and therefore better welfare, rather than horses being pushed on for the sake of not eliminating a team. But maybe for now, we should just be grateful that equestrian sports will still be represented at the Games, and focus more than ever on presenting a strong, united front with regards to horse welfare.

    The general non-horsey public are often misguided when it comes to horse sport. For example, I have seen posts online that read, “Look, the
    poor horse is frothing at the mouth,” when talking about a picture of a horse with a lovely, happy mouth. More must be done to educate well through good commentary during the times our sport is on show to the wider public, so that our happy athletes are recognised as exactly that.

    What do you think about the sport’s image? Tell us at hhletters@futurenet.com including your name, local town and county for the chance to be published in the weekly magazine – and you might also win a bottle of Champagne Taittinger too

    • This exclusive column is also available to read in H&H magazine, on sale Thursday 13 January

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