Meet The Latest Member Of Our Content Team, Dr Tracey Cole!
As a new contributor to Horsemart, I thought I’d tell you a little about me. I coach and train riders in mindset and mental strength, using NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), hypnotherapy and Time Line Therapy®. I’ve worked with equestrians for about 7 years now, but it wasn’t always that way!
I’d always been fascinated by the mind and the fact that we never use it to its full potential. It was because I had problems with my own riding nerves that I investigated the benefits of training in mental techniques.
I was working as a biochemist when I re-started riding around the age of 30. Although I’d learnt the basics as a child, I was still very novice in terms of the horses I could ride. At the time, I was living in the USA. I didn’t realise that the horse I was given to ride was an ex-racing quarter horse and he needed a lot of work. I also had no idea that I was the only person to ride him, once a week!
He would buck, bolt and shy, and sometimes I felt like I was riding an unexploded bomb. I also thought this was normal riding. Everyone else seemed in serene control, which made me feel worse! This was the first time I’d considered that riders could be nervous of their hobby! I thought it was down to me, my riding, but looking back, I was completely over-horsed and should have been taught more riding skills before being introduced to that under-exercised horse!
When I came back to England, I went to a local riding school for private lessons. I’d held onto that feeling, the habit of being scared to ride. The riding instructor noticed and reassured me that the horse didn’t buck or bolt. I’m sure that uncertainty didn’t leave me.
As I became more skilled in my riding, I bought my own horse and began to compete. This is where my nerves took on a life of their own! It wasn’t the size or look of the fences, it was the need not to make a fool of myself!
I tried the usual things; more riding lessons, facing the fear, riding other horses, breathing techniques. Nothing really worked. I Googled ‘rider confidence’ and seemed to have ‘NLP’ (neuro-linguistic programming) come up in the searches time after time. At first, it sounded like many of the other methods I’d looked at; great for most people, but probably not for me!
In spite of my misgivings, I rang an NLP trainer and asked her about NLP for sport. She wasn’t pushy and explained that NLP is a set of cherry-picked ideas from different areas of psychology, hypnosis and behavioural studies. She absolutely thought it would help me overcome any mental challenges. With a huge amount of scepticism, I joined the training.
I thought the course would be interesting, but not really practical for me. How wrong can you be? With each new technique we learnt, we had to work as the client or as the practitioner. As the client, I used my real fears and limiting beliefs and found that they evaporated!
It felt weird and wonderful; almost as surreal as winning the lottery! I was so amazed that my nerves had gone, that I decided to work as an equestrian mindset coach in the evening and at weekends. That expanded and I continued to drop my ‘day job’ hours until finally I was a full-time Master Coach and then accredited Trainer of NLP, Coaching, Hypnosis and Time Line Therapy®.
I love my job. I love helping and supporting riders of all disciplines and levels. I own my own warmblood, Lottie, a chestnut mare, and I’ve always ridden her with my fully-stocked mental toolkit. It’s made a difference to my outlook and even to the way I ride physically, not just mentally.
I started competing with Lottie, but she has had various health issues linked to recently diagnosed PSSM, so we school at home now. There’s a lovely bond between us and I think that’s due to my ability to calm myself and her, if need be, and that’s very special to me.
Find out more about Tracey and her work by visiting her website or following her on social;
Website - https://www.traceycolenlp.com/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/traceycolenlp
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/traceycolenlp/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/traceycolenlp