Tag Archives: British Eventing

Mind Games





Success in Equestrian sport is rarely achieved without careful preparation. Although by the word “preparation” we mean something beyond gymnastic jumping exercises and perfecting your square halt. Mental preparation and controlling nerves, is so often the difference between winning and losing. You would not be alone in thinking “how do I replicate what I do at home at a competition?”

Charlie Unwin is a leading sports psychologist who has been helping a number of elite riders and Olympic athletes from a number of sports. As part of the World Class Programme, he also helps the British Eventing Team from Young Riders up to Seniors.


After Military training at Sandhurst, Charlie started his professional life in the Army. During this time he served in Iraq as a platoon Commander. Upon leaving the Army, he focused on his passion for sport and begun training to become an elite Modern Pentathlete. Within two years, he was selected to go to the World Championships for the British team and in 2007 he was crowned National Champion. With this background, it is fair to say that no one understands pressure and nerves better than Charlie. We are lucky enough to have him as one of our advocates and here he sheds some light on mind management for riders.

“I help people recreate their best under pressure” he states. “Most people come because of nerves or a loss of devotion. Nerves can manifest in so many different ways but ultimately the common problem is that they are not able to recreate what they do at home.”


You have many forms of psychology and help out there but Charlie’s approach is a scientific one.

“There are two important areas of the brain at play when it comes to performing at your best, the emotional brain and the rational brain. The emotional brain represents the “Driving Force” of our performance, whilst the rational represents our “Guiding Force”. The driving force is both good and bad. It is the reason we get out of bed. It gives us energy and motivation. Yet it also makes us aware of perceived risks and can create fear and frustration, sometimes getting out of control. The guiding force concerns our focus and capacity to think clearly about what really matters. It makes us prioritize and do what is really important. The driving force is significantly stronger than the guiding force, meaning that emotion trumps logic if we don’t learn to manage our mind. This typically requires planning and visualization skills designed to help riders think correctly despite feeling nervous.

An example is where highly motivated and aspirational people struggle to channel their motivation effectively. The danger here is being high energy but fragile control or confidence. Then I need to work on their focus to prepare and plan. I also see people who are consumed by fear, for whatever reason. They become scared to make decisions. Some people like tips and techniques to help them but the most important thing is that they understand why they are doing it.


In addition, I am also trying to help riders tune into their intuition, tapping into their vast reservoir of experience that cannot always be expressed consciously. When a rider is learning their trade, they go through a process of making corrections. If these are well thought out, e.g “why did that happen when I did this”. The enhanced connections in the brain allow them to develop better intuition. So if a young rider only cares about results and less about mastering their sport, they end up compromising the thinking required to train the brain. So often, after a lesson a rider will untack, load up and not do much reflection on why something went well or badly. In avoiding this, they have not allowed their brain to process everything they have just done. In order to make something become intuitive, a rider should write down their plans and objectives before and after sessions as well as how it went and what made the difference. They should have coaching conversations with instructors about how things went, not just in the saddle.


I encourage riders to do the thinking and planning up front, before even getting on. This is so that when you are in the saddle, you just focus on feel. Often experienced riders stop trusting their intuition because they start to over-analyse things whilst on board. When you are coming down to The Lake at Badminton, you can’t afford to be thinking about too much other than how you are going to approach the fence. If the horse deviates from the line, it should be your intuitive riding that corrects this as your subconscious will react faster than your conscious mind.


It is important for riders to empty their minds in order to deliver the best performance. When you are in the start box or about to enter the arena, if you are uncertain about your plan and focus, you are not going to be able to ride to your best. At a base level, daily meditation is the best way to clear your mind as it allows us to access the more unconscious parts of the mind responsible for intuition. The app Headspace is great for this.


Equestrians are perhaps the most guilty of “doing, doing, doing”. The price paid can be a lack of reflection and therefore undermines their ability to judge the intrinsic quality of their work and make changes for the better. When I was a pentathlete, I was striving to do five sports well and you often don’t stop and reflect. Then I realised I was substituting quality practice for quantity and changed my training plan. I halved the amount of technical training but was more diligent at planning it. The training I did was more intensive and focused and I meditated before each training session. My results shot up and I started achieving things I didn’t think were possible.


Top riders like Michael Jung seem to follow this strategy. He doesn’t do many competitions but each one has a focus and a goal. He is very diligent about planning and when he trains, it is with real intensity.


We are creatures of habit and some people find it scary to stop what they are doing and reflect on what it actually takes to improve.


If you found this interesting, Charlie Unwin offers an online programme of podcasts and webcasts on mind management and controlling nerves.


Subscribe at https://www.performancelegacy.com/equestrian or join Charlie Unwin Psychology Coach on Facebook.


Written by Ellie Kelly

Image taken from https://www.performancelegacy.com/about

Badminton build-up Giovanni and Kathryn





Badminton build-up Giovanni and Kathryn

“I would rather win Badminton than any other event in the world” reveals international eventer Giovanni Ugolotti. “There is a feeling that no other event has, even the World Championships or Olympics and for Kathryn and me, it is what we have been dreaming of from childhood.”

With team appearances at the Olympics, World Games, European Championships, the Pan-Am Games and a number of CCI4* events between them, you could say that Kathryn Robinson and Giovanni Ugolotti are eventing’s “power couple”. Together they run Cranford Stud, an eventing and training yard in Gloucestershire and are both planning to compete at Badminton 2018. Horse Scout are giving away a prize for two people to walk the Badminton course with Kathryn and Giovanni and discover their trade secrets.

Giovanni started eventing in his native Italy and finished 4th in the Italian Junior Championships in 1999. He rode for the Italian Army Equestrian team from 2002 until 2007 before arriving in England in May 2008 to work for Andrew Nicholson. This was followed by a stint riding young horses for Tristram Owers. He quickly made his mark on the British scene taking 1st and 2nd at Hartpury CCI1* in 2008. In 2010 he finished 12th at Pau CCI4* and has competed at Badminton on three occasions.

Kathryn was born in Canada to a British father and Canadian mother but has been based in the UK for most of her life. The daughter of unhorsey parents, she began riding at her local riding school and was an active member of the Woodland Pytchley Pony Club. Kathryn didn’t take up eventing properly until she was 19, whilst working for international eventer Sam Albert.

Kathryn admits her career would not have been the same without her ride of seven years, Let It Bee. A horse she bought from Germany simply as an amateur horse but with whom she has scaled the highest level. The pair have competed at Badminton, Pau, The Pan Am Games and the Rio Olympics. Kathryn is hopeful for a good placing at this year’s Badminton, having jumped a double clear at her first attempt here in 2016.

So what do you need to excel at Badminton? “You need a partnership with your horse” explains Giovanni. “And your horse needs to be at the top of his form that weekend. You can have very good horses, capable of winning but if they are having an off day or are not at their peak for those four days then you are not going to win. You need a bit of luck” he says.

Kathryn and Giovanni will walk the Badminton course about four times. “The first impression doesn’t usually change too much and it is certainly a course that doesn’t get any smaller each time you walk. In fact, with Badminton I find that the more you think about it, the bigger it seems” he smiles.

Giovanni and Kathryn have a healthy working relationship rather than a competitive one. “We try to help each other” says Giovanni. “Kathryn helps me a lot in the dressage and I try to help her in the jumping. Sometimes we bump into arguments like every couple does. Luckily we like completely different kinds of horses, so it works out quite well.”

During the winter Kathryn likes to keep her eye in by riding out racehorses for trainers such as Ben Pauling and Alan King. Whilst Giovanni prefers to capitalise on the downtime, returning to Italy to see family. He is an ardent football fan and supporter of AC Milan.

Life on the yard is pretty busy so during the season, there is little time for other hobbies. “There is a lot of paperwork involved with running an equestrian business” explains Kathryn “Although we sometimes go to the gym after we have finished riding the horses”.

For 2018 they have some exciting young horses coming through, but good result at Badminton is vital for both riders as it will help their chances of team selection for the FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon in September 2018.   

Written By Ellie Kelly

Horse Scout horses for sale from Mark Todd

toddy sell
Mark Todd

Horse Scout welcomes an exceptional horse for sale.

Three star event gelding produced by Sir Mark Todd to their premium classified horses for sale this month. Kilturbrid Rhapsody recently 9th at Blenheim Palace ERM CIC*** This horse is a definite medal prospect for the World Games next year and beyond. Horse Scout has been developed to show case this caliber of competition horse, and looks forward to following his future. We wish Sir Mark Todd every luck with his sale.

BE=Be Enlightened in British Eventing Terms. Horse Scout Blogger helping you Get To Grips With Competition Abreviation Terminoligy (CAT)


I know we have some fantastic competition prospects on Horse Scout Horses For Sale pages; but do you see stars when you are looking to buy an experienced Event horse?

Have you ever wondered what the acronyms CCI and CIC etc actually mean when looking at British Eventing. Well here is a handy guide from Wikipedia presented to you by Horse Scout Blogger.

The Concours Complet International (CCI) and the Concours International Combiné (CIC) are ratings for the equestrian sport of eventing, given by the international governing body for the sport, the FEI.

The original difference between the two formats was that the 4 phases of cross-country (A, B, C, and D) were held in CCI competition, while CIC competition only ran the D phase. With the advent of the new format (which abolished phases A, B, and C), the FEI agreed to change the distances of the CCI to make it more difficult than the CIC competitions. Thus, CIC competitions have fewer obstacles on a shorter course than do CCI competitions.

Starring system

All FEI-recognized competitions, regardless of discipline, are rated on a “star” system. In eventing, the 4* level is the highest and the 1* level is the lowest of the FEI-recognized divisions.

Additionally, there are many competitions held at levels below the one-star. These competitions are not FEI-recognized, and are usually held under the rules of a country’s national governing body.

The Concours Complet International

CCI Competitions are held under FEI rules for Three Day Events, including the General Rules and Veterinary Regulations. They are international three-day events, as opposed to a national competition or a one- or two-day horse trial.


The highest level of competition, advanced level for horses with a good deal of experience and success in international competition. It includes the Olympics (although the Olympics are usually made easier, at more of a three-star level, to allow a greater number of nations to compete successfully), the FEI World Equestrian Games, and six annual horse trials each year:

  • Badminton Horse Trials(Britain),
  • Burghley HorseTrials (Britain),
  • Rolex Kentucky Three Day (USA),
  • Australian International Three Day Event (Australia),
  • Luhmühlen Horse Trials (Germany), and the
  • Stars of Pau (France).


  • Riders must be at least 18 years old, and horses 7 (although most are much older).
  • Cross-country has maximum of 45 jumping efforts on a 6270-7410m course, ridden at 570 mpm (total course time of 11–13 minutes)
  • Stadium has maximum of 16 efforts and 11-13 obstacles (Note: a combination is one obstacle), ridden at 375 mpm, with a course length of 500–600 meters.


Advanced level, for horses with some experience in international competition.


  • Riders must be at least 18 years old, and horses 7 (although most are much older).
  • Cross-country has maximum of 40 jumping efforts on a 5700-6840m course, ridden at 570 mpm (total course time of 10–12 minutes)
  • Stadium has maximum of 15 efforts and 11-12 obstacles, ridden at 375 mpm, with a course length of 450–550 meters.


Intermediate level, for horses and riders with some experience riding in a three-day event, who are just starting to begin international competition.


  • Riders must be at least 16 years of age, and horses at least 6 years old.
  • Cross-country has maximum of 37 jumping efforts on a 4950-5500m course, ridden at 550 mpm (total course time of 9–10 minutes)
  • Stadium has maximum of 14 efforts and 10-11 obstacles, ridden at 350 mpm, with a course length of 400–500 meters.


Preliminary (USA) or Novice (Britain) level, used as an introductory level to the three-day event.


  • Riders must be at least 14 years old, and horses at least 6 years of age.
  • Cross-country has maximum of 32 jumping efforts on a 4160–4680m course, ridden at 520 mpm (total course time of 8–9 minutes)
  • Stadium has maximum of 13 efforts and 10-11 obstacles, ridden at 350 mpm, with a course length of 350–450 meters.

The Concours International Combiné

The CIC may be held over one day, and is thus considered an international one-day event. However, it must follow FEI rules. Additionally, the CIC is held only at the one to three-star levels. There are no 4* CIC competitions.

  • CIC***: Cross-country is held over a 3200–4000 m course with 32-40 efforts, and ran at a speed of 570 mpm. Stadium has maximum of 15 efforts and 11-12 obstacles, ridden at 375 mpm, with a course length of 450–550 meters.
  • CIC**: Cross-country is held over a 2800–3600 m course with 28-36 efforts, and ran at a speed of 550 mpm. Stadium has maximum of 14 efforts and 10-11 obstacles, ridden at 350 mpm, with a course length of 400–500 meters.
  • CIC*: Cross-country is held over a 2400–3200 m course with 24-32 efforts, and ran at a speed of 520 mpm. Stadium has maximum of 13 efforts and 10-11 obstacles, ridden at 350 mpm, with a course length of 350–450 meters.

Other Terms

  • CCN: National Three Day Event. They must be held under FEI rules for Three Day Events (but not FEI General Rules or Veterinary Regulations).
  • CCIO: Official International Three Day Event, for team competitions internationally, such as the Olympic Games, the World Equestrian Games, the Pan-American Games, and the European Championships.
  • CH: International Championship Three Day Event
  • CCIP: International Three Day for Ponies. Only provided at the * and ** level.
  • J/YR: divisions for young riders (21 or younger) and juniors (18 or younger).


British Eventing South West Region Rankings For 2015 For Grassroots Riders



British Eventing South West Region, are delighted to announce the launch of a Rankings series to be held in the South West Region during 2015 says the World Of Eventing and goes on to quote Pattie Biden, the Regional Coordinator for the South West: “This series has been introduced to recognise and reward consistently good performances at Grassroots levels and to make the fantastic events in the South West more attractive to all riders.
“I also hope that the rankings and prizes will encourage more entries to South West events thus adding value to our hard working Organisers in the area.
The series will be open to all horse and rider combinations competing in BE80(T), BE90 and BE100 classes during this year. The series will encompass all 24 events that run classes at these three levels of competition in the South West Region during the 2015 eventing season. Results will be determined by points automatically allocated to the top 6/8 in each class at each event depending on the number of starters. Ongoing results will be posted on the series web site www.eventingsouthwest.co.uk along with other information concerning the rankings as well as all other aspects of eventing in the South West.

Participating Fixtures
Fixtures which count for the series are: Moreton (March 7/8), Aldon International 1 (March 20/23/22), Somerley Park (April 1/2), Portman (April 7/8), Larkhill 1 (April 11/12), Bovington (April 18/19), Bicton Arena 1 (April 24/25/26), Millfield School (May 23/24), Pontispool 1 (May 30/31), West Wilts 1 (June 13/14), Nunney International (June 19/20/21), Treborough Hill 1 (June 27), Bicton Arena 2 (July 11/12), Launceston (July 18), West Wilts 2 (August 18/19), Bicton Arena 3 (August 22/23), Treborough Hill 2 August 29/30), West Wilts 3 (September 12/13), Pontispool 2 (September 20/21), Bricky September 26/27), Bovington 2 (October 4), Port Eliot (October 11), Larkhill 2 (October 17/18), Aldon International 2 (October 22/23/24/25)

Prizes and awards
Initially all awards will be in kind and presented to the top four in each of the three classes overall at the end of the season. These will include free Membership to BE for both Horse and Rider and a Training Voucher, Balios Body protectors, Joules Tweed Jackets and Castle Horse Rugs from Style International. Additionally John Colson Training Bursaries presented by the Nutwell Court Committee will be awarded to the highest rider aged under 21 and the highest placed rider aged over 50.

These prizes will be presented at an Awards Ceremony to be held at the Exeter Equine Christmas Fair which will be held at the Westpoint Arena, Exeter on Saturday 5th December.