“What clients say about
their mental coaching journey”
Katie McNair (Canada)
“My greatest life lesson happened when I least expected it. In February 2019, I hit an all-time low in my riding. I felt paralyzed with fear all of a sudden from a fall two years prior. I was having flashbacks of falling while I was trying to warm up for my class. My mind was becoming my own worst enemy and I had no idea what was happening to me.
The fear that I was having on the horse was now transcending into my parenting. I felt tired and mentally drained every day when I came home from the barn. I became fixated on all the ‘bad rounds’ I had. I kept thinking and telling myself that there was no way I could jump bigger classes, I just could not do it. Soon enough my brain started believing that I could not do it either.
Annette was in Florida teaching a workshop when I had been at my worst. I was introduced by my flat coach Sally Amsterdamer to Annette. After our first session together, I felt like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. Having someone finally understand what I felt made the biggest difference.
Balancing riding and parenting is not easy. I was trying to ride, but could never shut my ‘mom brain’ off. I was trying to flat my horses, but always thinking about school, sick kids, their activities, and what I was going to make them for dinner. I wasn’t being fair to my horses or myself. I needed to learn how to connect with them when in the saddle.
By working with Annette, she made me realize how important it is to connect with your horse every time you are on them. I think sometimes we forget how much horses try for us, and in return, they deserve to have our full attention when we are on them. Being 100% present in the saddle was a goal that we set right from the start, as well as always enjoying the ride no matter what the result was. I started to see the results almost immediately.
The most important lesson Annette taught me was “change your vocabulary, change your life.” This changed not only my mindset in the saddle, but also my mindset as a parent. Teaching my children to believe in themselves, and to work through goals with a growth mindset is a lesson that I will forever be grateful for.”
Antonio Mendes (Spain)
“I have always admired the mental skills from the top riders of the sport: self control, motivation, consistency, self-confidence, thinking it is something natural for them. Something you are either born with it or not.
I was in a moment of my career that I was not improving, I was not happy with my results, my riding and the way I was doing things. In general I was not motivated even though I spent most of the day working, training and trying to improve. I decided to do something about it, try to solve it from a different angle than training and working because that was not giving me the results I was expecting.
I knew I needed someone related to our sport, someone I could talk about the feelings we have while riding or during a round, the feelings after a bad performance or even after a great performance when you start increasing your goals and adding pressure … in other words, someone that could understand the complexity of our passion for horses and the sport.
Since I started the Mental Training Program with Annette, things slowly started to change. She taught me that mindset, as any other skill, can be trained and improved and that you can use it to your advantage to bring out the best version of yourself. She is teaching me the proper tools, techniques and routines, not just to improve my mindset, but to recognise and be aware of the triggers and situations that can affect my riding and my performance so I can do something in advance to control my mind. And most important she is teaching me to enjoy this exciting journey.
Don’t think it’s gonna be easy or effortless, as any other important thing in life it will require commitment, but in my own experience, it is definitely worth the effort.
I used to think that through the process I will become better in the sport, that I will improve my results, now I realise that the sport is only one of the areas where I am changing and improving. But let me tell you something, the biggest change I am experiencing is to realise every day how lucky I am about my life. I started riding because I loved horses and the sport not because of the results and the recognition of others, Annette is helping me to focus on those things that make you enjoy the journey while you reach your goals.
I can definitely say that I am going through a life changing experience that I think everyone should try.”
Ashlee Harrison (United Kingdom)
“I started working with Annette when my confidence was at an all-time low. Regardless of my motivation and hard work, my efforts were not translating into success. The pressure I put on myself was crippling and every class felt like the Olympics.
Annette educated me to think differently about my personal journey as a rider. She helped me concentrate on my own path with techniques to train my mind before classes as well as everyday activities which have completely changed my mentality towards the sport.
Since working with Annette I’ve noticed a huge difference – not only in my results but also in my ability to apply my focus on what’s important. I’ve shifted my perception of what constitutes a good day and now appreciate learning experiences instead of letting them hinder progress.”
Piergiorgo Bucci (Italy)
“I always believed that having a great mind is very important in this sport and key to becoming a champion. Even though I was working myself on my focus and motivation to fight for every class, it was not as powerful or consistent as I wanted it to be. When I started working with Annette, already after the first session, she created a click in my brain to feel much more excited again about everything and more positive in general. Over the past month, she taught me different techniques and exercises, and together we created clear routines I now use every day to stay motivated, concentrated and more focused on my horses. I really trust Annette and because I’m now more focused on the process, I have already become more competitive in the ring as a result.”
Jonna Ekberg (Sweden)
“As a rider in one of the worlds biggest stables you go to the show more or less every week, so the pressure to perform and the high expectations are always there. I used to get quite nervous about this and it started to be an issue, I didn’t enjoy riding the same way anymore. Annette really helped me to deal with the pressure which also helped me find my way back to my passion and enjoying the sport again. Whenever I go to a show I think about the routines and the system Annette has taught me and it has made me a much more confident rider.
Not only as a rider but also as a person, Annette has helped me to deal with different situations in a better and less stressful way. I’m still looking forward to keep on working on it to become a better rider as well as a better person!”
Shoug Al Nowais (UAE)
“I struggled with anxiety and nerves, both in and out of the shows, especially since my long break from riding post accident.
The routines and exercises Annette has introduced to me have been incredibly beneficial. I have realised how small changes can have a huge impact overall, no matter how seemingly minor these exercises and/or changes might be. Through these I have been able to learn to ride with a quieter mind and most importantly to enjoy riding again! Annette has helped me work towards understanding the balance between the right amount of pressure and focus I need in order to ride my best and always remember to trust my own intuition.
In just a short time working with Annette, I have been able to understand how and why the mind works the way it does. How important the language and words we chose to use are, and how they impact our thoughts and performance. My mental game is still a work in progress but the only way to improve is to focus on the process and not the result! Thanks to Annette, I am finally enjoying riding again. Her experience and understanding of our sport is a huge advantage and great support. I believe every athlete, no matter the level, should spend some time improving their mental game with the help of Annette!”
Alberto Michan (Israel)
“We all want to get better in our sport. I’m absolutely sure that confidence and believing in yourself makes the biggest difference. Annette, my Mental coach for some time now has given me great advice, tools and exercises to get the best out of me. She is a super prepared person that understands our sport and can help you be better!“
Marit Haarr Skollerud (Norway)
“Since we started working together earlier this year, a lot has happened. Not only with riding but also outside the ring. I was very quickly distracted and was thinking about what other people might think off me, how I rode and how my results were. You teach me how to look at the positive things, and the things that really matter. How to stay focused and keep my concentration. I think about these small things every day now and try to improve myself as a rider and also as a person. Thank you for all your help and all your super blogs that I read every time!”
Maria Aminoff (Finland)
“In March 2016 I had a bad fall in Arezzo that kept me on the sideline for 2 months. I got very lucky, as it could have been much worse. I got back in the saddle and did not think about it too much. But in November when at a tour in Spain I had another bad fall breaking my shoulder and was again out for 6 months. Going back to the shows after this, I noticed I was unsure and doubted myself and my judgments in the ring, something I never used to do before. My trainer Yves Houtackers suggested I talk to Annette. I started working with Annette only a few months ago, but already feel she has inspired me in many ways and helped me create much needed mental skills, like being more aware of my thoughts and body. Our sport is mentally very challenging and working on my mental toughness has already provided me with helpful ways to become more secure in the saddle. I want to continue working on my mental skills, but my mindset and ways I deal with situations and feelings has already changed in a positive way thanks to the sessions with Annette. As a result I am currently ticking of one of my goals, which is competing at the Oslo horseshow.”
Zoé Conter (Belgium)
“I grew up in a family surrounded by horses, and I’ve been riding my whole life. So of course everytime I was competing at a show I needed to deal with a lot of pressure from everyone around me. Due to this kind of pressure it was hard for me to actually perform well.
When I first met with Annette she taught me how to look at things differently. I needed to stop worrying about what people thought and instead focus on myself, my horse and how much I love showing. She also told me to focus on the process and not on the results. Which really helped me forward.
I didn’t only improve my riding through training harder but also through mental coaching. By visualizing how I wanted to ride the perfect courses with each and one of my horses it became a part of my mindset. Besides all that, Annette is a lovely person to work with, really understanding and tries to help you in any way possible.”
Laura Mathy (Belgium)
“I had been competing at the international level for about 5 years and the progress had been great, however most people around me including my parents, grooms and trainers were telling me that the there was one thing which was keeping me from further improving. The skill I was lacking was the mental strength. Therefore I started looking for help and found Annette through a friend who had been working with her.
When I started working with Annette we set goals, which were learning to enjoy competing rather than fearing it and being grateful for the opportunities I had. We also had in mind the most important competition of the year for me, which was the European championship for Young riders.
By working with Annette, I could really feel the difference in the way I approached showing, the change in my mindset and the increased happiness and gratefulness I felt while riding, showing and being around horses in general. She taught me many things not only valuable for competitions but also for my daily life, my trainings, and much more. She taught me to focus on my well being, on my horse’s well being and focus more on the process than the goal.
After less than one year of working together, the way I approach the sport has completely changed. Feeling stressed and only being happy when reaching certain results has shifted to more enjoyment, gratitude and focus on progress. In addition, my mindset has changed and I was ready to confront the biggest show of the year, was the European Championship. It could have not been any better, I overcame all my fears, stresses and insecurities and thanks to my work with Annette, among other multiple things, we became Vice-European Champions per team.”
Charlotte Augier De Moussac (Czech Republic)
“Working with Annette made me realize how powerful the mind is and how I can manage it better. After only a couple of sessions, I saw the change in my riding and in my mindset while competing. I’ve learned that taking time for myself to quiet the mind and to be in the present moment is very powerful and an important daily exercise. Thanks to the tools she gave me, I can handle my stress better and have a clear mind, full focus and a lot of fun during competitions! In addition, I managed to achieve one of my goals recently, which was to ride a 2* GP at the Stephex Masters in Brussels.”
Mariel Victoria Aguirre (Mexico)
“Working with Annette has helped me in numerous ways. Since 2016, we have worked on improving my mentality on and off the horse, and setting a path for my career. She has helped me stay centered and true to myself, which is often difficult to do in a competitive environment. She fills you with positive energy and can help you improve in any aspect that you need. My confidence and my belief in my plan have both grown immensely with Annette’s help, and she continues to help me through the good and the bad times!”
Jennifer Goddard (USA)
“Annette has helped me so much to harness the mental skills that give me and my horses the best chance of success and enjoyment! I struggled for years to control my nerves and maintain focus during my preparation as well as on the course – not to mention, to recover from below-average rounds!
If you are feeling challenged by your horse show nerves or lacking in the confidence department, know that you are not alone! Give yourself the opportunity to take charge of your mental state, like so many of us have with Annette. She will help you understand why your mind works the way it does, give you the tools to combat those jitters and help you to enjoy your riding and showing.”
Anne Liza Makkinga (The Netherlands)
By working with Annette, I was able to learn how I can have more influence over my own thoughts and worked on my focus, self-confidence and setting achievable goals. It really helped me to get to know myself better and to learn what works best for me.
Because of this I have made a big step forward as a rider. I have realized that, training my mental power has a very positive impact on me and my results. Because of this experience, I can recommend working with Annette to anyone. It has been the missing link for me to enjoy the riding more, to enjoy the positive results and to learn from the mistakes and put them into perspective.
“I can recommend working with Annette to anyone.”
Anne Liza Makkinga
Stefanie Saperstein (USA)
“I started working with Annette recently and she already impacted my career and way of life in a profound way. With each session I learn something eye opening as she breaks down concepts such as time management in working smart and flow with following your breath to focus your thoughts. Annette brings a fresh perspective to sports psychology and she makes it simple and attainable. She helped me understand myself, my habits and how they evolved so that I could create new productive ones that prepare me for any situation in the arena and help me enjoy the process. To me, Annette goes beyond competitive sports, she helps me live a more fulfilling life.“
Vladya Reverdin (Switzerland)
“Annette really helped me during my first year of combining university and horse-riding. I had some difficulties to combine both and I was losing confidence, which is usually not one of my weaknesses. She made me focus much more on myself and on enjoying the moment rather than trying to be perfect all the time and thinking about what others might think. I also really enjoy the personal touch Annette adds, she doesn’t only focus on the professional side but also tries to connect with you on a personal level, which makes every meeting very nice! Additionally, the breathing exercises she taught me made me realize how much we can actually control our stress if we really focus!”
Victoria Alvarez (Mexico)
“I went to Annette in a time in my life when I was frustrated in every way, but mostly with the sport. I had lost the ability to enjoy something that I used to love so much, the pressure was just to high for me and I was dealing with it very poorly. After the first two sessions, my riding was immediately better, I was dealing with pressure the right way and she gave several different exercises that I now cherish. The best thing about her coaching is that she not only helped me improve the way I was riding, and approaching the sport; she also helped me become the best version of myself in every aspect of my life. Annette changed my life completely, and she is one of the most professional, caring, and capable people I know. ”
Amy Collinson (New Zealand)
“Annette has helped change my perspective on various situations with my Show Jumping career and with life in general. This has helped me feel more comfortable with my journey. In times of feeling stressed out and confused, Annette has given me tools to help me relax and put things in perspective. Over the last year my mental focus and control has improved. I struggled with nerves at the shows. In the warm up I would get stressed out and start to circle in front of the jumps. I would go in the ring feeling very distracted by all the nervous thoughts in my head. This would make me feel very weak and prevent me from trusting myself. Now the warm up is a much more relaxed, happy place. In the ring I am starting to let go, and trust myself and my horses. The results are taking care of themselves, as all of a sudden I’m where I had been aiming for without thinking so much about it.“
Kim Huige (The Netherlands)
“So far, my experience with mental coaching is that it offers a great support to work towards your goals and to provide eye openers that help you better understand or help change your perspective if necessary. Like, how you have very little or no control over results and others, approaching situations in a more positive way and staying focused on your own goals. I learned that focusing on your own path and goals is the most important thing as others have their own goals and their process therefore might be very different. Comparing yourself with others therefore is not helpful in any way. I also learned that simple tools like breathing exercises and focus training and using them consistently can make all the difference. Just going about your day without a plan is not enough to reach your goals. I now know what I’m doing and am more deliberate about working my horses and my life in general. I know I still have a lot to learn and work on, so we are not done yet, but working with Annette has been great as she provides clear information about how things work and the trust to be able to talk about everything.”
Joanna Johansson (Sweden)
“I have been seeing Annette now for almost 1 year and I’m not the same person today as I was one year ago. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs but with the help from Annette I’ve learned how to deal with both success and failure.
Before I started with mental coaching, I have to admit I was really negative to it, but I was really happily surprised how it can change your way of thinking and to act in different situations.
What is a really important thing in all this is that I trust Annette 100% and I know that she believes in me. So I really encourage more people to take help from a mental coach, I promise it will change your way of thinking and how you feel about yourself! I’m really grateful of everything you have done for me Annette!”
Lexi Carter (South Africa)
“Over the past few years Annette has helped me with a few issues I had when competing, for instance, after having a few bad water jumpers I began to have an issue with the water myself, finding the distance to the water. I asked Annette and she gave me some very useful advice and helped me to think in a different way and now I have no panic about the water and find easily the distance normally. Also she has helped me to find the right balance of pressure and relaxation for me to focus in the ring and ride my best.”
Eveline van Gruisen (Belgium)
“A year ago I got in touch with Annette and we started working together. My confidence at the time was below zero, I had some hidden grief I had not yet dealt with and I lacked a clear goal in life. A year later and I have turned into a confident lady running my own business. Annette helped me realize who I really am. Together we looked at what tools I can use to improve and stay more positive generally. Fantastic help and coach! Thanks Annette!!”
Kim Van Decraen (Belgium)
“Annette has taught me a lot and in many different ways about how to deal with the showjumping sport. She helped me find back the joy in riding again. I lost that because I had an idea in my head about how my ride was supposed to be, but when I didn’t ride that perfect round, it made me unhappy. Annette also made me aware of my thoughts and the influence of those thoughts on my riding and that I should always have a plan about how I am going to ride before I go into the ring. Also I really learned a lot from the concentration exercises and tips. I just really like the way Annette works in general, so it was a very positive experience!”
Aurora Rangel de Alba (Mexico)
“My experience with Annette has helped me find balance between the sport and personal relationships. Thanks to her I can understand why people react the way they do under stressful situations in and outside the ring.
I have learned to make the most out of any occasion, either positive or negative, by recognizing the variables that make a situation good or bad in the sport and in life.
Additionally, I believe the concentration and relaxation techniques she teaches should be a habit for everyone in order to release the best version of oneself for achieving success and to nurture the relationship between horse and rider.”
Tessy Scheepers (Belgium)
“As a dressage rider, I think relaxation is very important. It is all about finding the balance between relaxation and the perfect connection during the exercises. Personally I had some difficulties with finding this balance during competitions. I put a lot of pressure on myself by not allowing any ‘mistakes’, and because of that the pressure took over. Thanks to breathing exercises and focus training that Annette has taught me, I can now much better work towards that what I would like to achieve. Thanks to Annette I can stay much more relaxed during the competition and stay ‘one’ with my horse.”
Nathalie de Martin (Belgium)
“The Coaching sessions with Annette have really helped me a lot. Because of people around me and because of myself, I felt a lot of pressure to perform well. I came to a point where I not only felt blocked but also lost all the pleasure in riding. I didn’t even want to go to competitions anymore. Because off Annette I started to realize that being busy with what other people think, is a waste of time. But also that it is so important to enjoy riding and to have fun. This not only helped me as a rider but also gave a lot more peace in my personal life. She really was a great help to me!”