INTERVIEW WITH


Elin Brikell

    Tell us a little bit about you and your background in the equestrian sport

    I have always been around horses. My aunt has always had horses that she has competed with in showjumping. So thanks to her I found my passion for horses.

    I got my first own B-pony when I was about ten years old, before that I rode and competed some of the ridingschools ponies in showjumping.

    It was a triangelmarked pony which means that the pony was not allowed to compete at real shows because of an injury she had earlier. She did some Swedish championships with her previously rider. A very fresh and a little bit difficult pony but with a fantastic attitude! Always thinking forward and very easy to jump. We competed up to 90cm-1m at my riding clubs championship. I learned so much from her! After that it has just rolled on. I have been a co-owner for some ponies after that. One youngster that unfortunately got an injury. After that a very stubborn pony who took me about six months to get around a course. But after that we did really great! 

     

    When I finished the elementary school, I moved to Gothenburg and after that to Varberg to go to high school. I choosed to go to ”The Swedish Riding Highschool”. A very fun time where I found friends with the same passion as me. I borrowed a horse from school, a special horse that not many liked. We did really fit each other like hand in glove! A little bit of a difficult horse to ride and jump but according to me a pretty easy and very fun horse to ride. After a while my aunt send me one of her horses that I borrowed for a while during high school. 

     

    After my time in Varberg I moved home again and started to work. I helped my aunt with her horses before I bought my very first own horse in 2013. An amazing five-year-old gelding who was hardly jumped. Probably the best horse that I have ever owned. Unfortunately, he needed more time to grow up than I was ready to give him. He had such a capacity but at shows he could have kind of a black out. And he was kind of crazy and dangerous sometimes, I have probably never fall of a horse as many times as I did on him! He had a lot of temper. Since he wasn’t ready for my goals, I sold him to someone that hadn’t as high requirements as me. I was happy with my job, I took him from barely not have jumped at all to do 1m20 classes.

     

    Then I bought a showjumping mare who was the completely opposite of him. A very fresh horse with so much power and very strong but with an awesome attitude for jumping. Forward was the only way! A lot of nerve and very sensitive. Unfortunately, she was too strong for me and because of my mental illness 2017 we didn’t get along. She was a sensitive horse that could feel my bad health and at the end we lost the trust to each other.

     

    After I sold her I bought my one in a lifetime horse. A gelding who had jumped 1m40 classes. He was a big gentleman, 178 centimeters who just stepped over the fences. No obstacle was too big for him. I had so fun with him and he really helped me getting back my confidence back! Unfortunately, he had an injury after only five months with him and I had to let him go to the evergreen meadows.

     I lost almost all my money that I had to invest in a horse. So, after him I had to start over again. I bought a beautiful youngster 2018. A very kind horse with a heart of gold. Also, he got an injury and I had to let him go to the evergreen meadows also.

     

    And here I am today! I bought my youngster ”Je suis Charlie” aka Charlie/Curre a couple of months ago. He is a promising soon five-year-old gelding by Gaillard de la Pomme - Calvados! An amazing horse who fit me very well. I really hope that I will have fun with him many years ahead!

    You have talked about how you lived with performance anxiety and how it limited you in your life as a rider and as a young woman, tell us a little about that!

    Yes exactly!

    I think my performance anxiety started already during my high school time. To be in a school with so many girls with the same passion unfortunately created a lot of pressure. 

     

    I have always been a person with very high demands on myself.

    I have been too tough to myself and I never really trusted people. Not only within the riding but also in the everyday. For a longer time, I had developed a social phobia. To be in new and for me different situations that I wasn’t comfortable and familiar with, made me feel horrible and gave me completely panic! I remember it like it was yesterday, when we had work experience at high school. I really tried to come unstuck, but my teacher made sure I got an internship at a really good showjumping stable nearby. I called in sick the whole time, a few weeks actually. Just the thought of being among new people, routines and situations I wasn’t familiar with made me feel so bad. 

     

    When I finished high school, I moved back home and started to work. I worked more and more, I had very high demands on myself and I really didn’t want to and was afraid of making mistakes. The same thing in my spare time and in the riding. In the riding I always criticized myself. I was a perfectionist and I was really mad at myself when I did something wrong. 

     

    A few years after high school I got sick, I had anemia, a bad anemia and I was at hospital a few times a year where I got blood transfusions. I was so tired back and forth and could barely function, but I still wanted to work and ride.

     

    Later I got a temporary work because there was someone who had quit at my workplace. I really loved my colleagues and my work. I worked there for about two-three years. Unfortunately, they needed me somewhere else and somebody was moved to my earlier work. I was completely shattered and panicked to start to work at a new place with new colleagues and new routines. 

     

    One day I got something I thought was migraine. I lost my sight, speech and I couldn’t write or read. It only lasted for an hour or so. I ended up in the emergency because the doctors thought I had a stroke. But the doctors couldn’t find anything wrong and I was sent back home. Later it turned out my body warned me that I was going to be burnout if I didn’t slow down, which I didn’t. 

     

    After the news about my new working place I got fatigue syndrome and depression. I was burned out. I barely didn’t sleep and then some days I could sleep 24h. I just couldn’t function. I couldn’t go into a store alone without having a panic attack!

    I can’t describe the feeling and anxiety to be forced to do something and be somewhere you don’t want to be. It was terrible. So, 2017 I was a completely wreck and moved to the hospital for about a year. Today I can look back and say that it is the best thing ever happened to me. The way back was long and not easy. But today I feel stronger and healthier than ever. Of course, I still have my bad days but I can handle them now. 

     

    My illness disease affected me a lot when it comes to horses and riding. When this happened, I had a very sensitive horse with a lot of nerve. It just didn’t work out between us anymore. To have a horse with a lot of blood and nerve and self being a completely wreck and so stressed out was an awful combination. In the end I was forced to sell her for the sake of both of us. And start to look for a horse with a better temper.

    Living with social phobia and anxiety has led me to not being able to make my own decisions or believe in myself. I have listened too much to others and I’ve criticized myself very hard. This have led me to being very insecure.

    What has riding meant to you?

    The riding and most of all horses has meant so much to me!

    Horses was the reason I was able to fight and look forward to something. And they are probably the reason I stand here today. To be able to look forward to a future with horses have saved me. To feel that it actually is something I can succeed with in life.

     

    How did you do to get out of the difficult situation and how do you handle it today?

    What has helped me get out of my performance anxiety is to familiarize with it. What is the real cause of my performance anxiety? Is it low self-esteem? Uncertainty? Why do my body and brain do like this? How can I overcome those feelings?

     

    I have read so many articles, books, listened to podcasts, watch videos about anxiety, performance anxiety and mental coaching. 

    To learn about my problems and weak sides is something I think is an important part of overcoming it. Be open about it, admit to yourself and others that: Yes! I have performance anxiety. And I am going to work to overcome it. You can’t work with it if you are denying it. Dare to ask for help.

    Be around people who believes in you, are willing to help you. And also, have a horse that fits you. Start over, do easy things where you feel safe, where you can praise yourself and have fun.

     

    I think that you need to dare to build your own system. Not listen so much to what other people thinks about how you should lay up the system. To dare to trust yourself and stand by with your way. It maybe sounds a little bit complex. What I mean is just because your friend or trainer do something their way it doesn’t mean it fits you or has to be that way.

     

    Dare to believe and trust yourself and your decisions!

    One more thing that has helped me a lot is to be kind to other people. Actually, that was a step of being more confident.

    What are your dreams and goals for your riding for the future?

    My goals for 2020 is to introduce my horse ”Curre” on shows. He is barely five years old and has not done any shows yet. I have no big demands on the actual results before summer. I want to do nice and easy rounds with a happy and relaxed horse. I hope that we will be ready for 1m10 until summer though and hopefully step up one more step before this season ends.

     

    My absolutely most important and biggest long-term goal is to build a sustainable and confident horse. I want to have many years with him. In the future I hope we will do at least 1m30 classes. After that we will see how far we go. 

     

    In the future it would be amazing to somehow work with horses. I always dreamed about living on break horses and to fix difficult horses, give them a second chance. Maybe buy a project to development and later sell. But first I need more experience and more qualifications.

     


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