October 25, 2006 at 7.30pm

Leading sports psychologist, Jennie Killilea gave an evening talk to a sell out audience of equine enthusiasts at Nottingham Trent University's Brackenhurst campus on Wednesday 25 October 2006. Jennie spoke about how top riders achieve their winning state of mind and guided the audience through how they can achieve their riding goals through controlling nerves, tackling competition pressures and getting into 'the zone.'

Competing with your horse and wishing that you could return and have another go is a familiar story for any rider - whether at a local show or international level. Jennie explained that the difference between winning and losing, enjoying or not-enjoying a performance can often be down to the mental outlook and psychological skills of the rider.

Although sports psychology has been applied to other disciplines for a number of years, equestrian sports psychology has been a more recent development. As in any new area there was much skepticism initially, but interest and confidence in the field has grown. The impact of psychological skills on the performance of many leading riders has contributed to a thirst for knowledge in this area. Now riders at all levels are keen to find out more about how mental preparation and training can provide them with the skills they need to maximize both performance and enjoyment of their chosen sport.

Jennie's expertise is currently utilized by many top riders including those on the British Equestrian Federation's World Class Start and Potential Schemes (Dressage, Show-Jumping, Eventing & Para Dressage). She helps stars of the future overcome nerves, tackle competition pressures, motivate themselves, and develop self and performance confidence. Two of Jennie's pupils from the local area, Para dressage riders Sophie Wells and Emma Sheardown, also attended the event. Sophie and Emma kindly agreed to their experiences being used as examples of how psychological training can be applied in "real life" situations. It was obvious from their reactions that Jennie was an invaluable member of their training team.

With a masters degree in sport psychology and accredited by BASES (British Association of Sport & Exercise Sciences) Jennie has competed at major three-day-events, and has represented Great Britain at the European Young Rider Championships. She also runs her own livery yard in Lancashire.

Dr Carol Hall, course leader for BSc Equine Sports Science (Equestrian Psychology) in the university's School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences, said: " We were delighted that Jennie came here to share with us her experience and expertise. It is now recognized that input from the sports psychologist in both preparation and training in equestrian sport can mean the difference between success and failure. Even if you are not a competitive rider, knowledge of how psychological training can enhance your enjoyment of equestrianism is invaluable. The university's Equine Sports Science (Equestrian Psychology) degree has proved to be extremely popular, demonstrating the interest in this area. Those attracted to the field can develop their skills and apply them in what would be a most challenging career."

The evening with Jennie Killilea proved to be so popular and entertaining that plans are in place for her to return to present some follow-up workshops to students at NTU Brackenhurst and to local equine enthusiasts.

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