Home News Natasha Baker MBE interview: Preparing for competition

News Behind the Scenes

Natasha Baker MBE interview: Preparing for competition

Posted in Behind the Scenes

Natasha Baker MBE was catapulted into the limelight following her double Olympic gold medal win at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Aged just 23, Natasha has become the poster-girl for equestrian Paralympic sports and a sought after celebrity in her own right. Her vibrant personailty has won her hordes of fans and her skill as a horsewoman is bound to bag her future championship medals.

We caught up with Natasha – who’s sponsored by Golly Galoshes – as she prepares to defend her European title this summer, and found out a little about how she gets herself and her horses ready for big events…

H&R: How do you prepare mentally before a competition? Do you have a ritual or routine you stick to?

Natasha: “I try to keep everything normal. My horses like their routine and if I don’t stick to it, that’s when things go wrong. Before London 2012, I kept my same training regime, making sure I hacked a lot and I only schooled 3 or 4 times a week. I don’t over-practice my tests otherwise the horses will anticipate, so I pick movements from the test to practice on their own.”

“For myself, I make sure I keep to my routine, too. I eat the right food to give me the right amount of energy, I work with my sports psychologist, Joce Brooks, on imagery, coping strategies and how I think about my test. The attitude I have to go into a competition with is – if I do my best, and my horse does his best, then we have nothing to worry about. Also, it’s the same thing we do at home, just in a different arena. That helps me a lot!”

H&R: If you have a day when you’re ‘not really feeling it’, how do you get yourself pumped up?

Natasha BakerNatasha: “I actually can’t get too ‘pumped up’. I try to be as relaxed as possible, as that’s when I find I do my best test. I listen to music when I’m getting my hat, jacket and boots on and I think of everything but my horse and test. I tend to over think things, so I talk to whoever is around about anything from the weather, to what they ate for dinner. If nobody is about, I sing (not very well!) – it really works for me and gets me in my ‘zone’ for when I am about to compete.”

H&R: Do you get nervous before a big occasion? How do you deal with the nerves?

Natasha: “I actually get more excited! I think it’s unnatural not to feel nervous, and you can use those nerves to your advantage. When I was starting out, I was incredibly nervous and used to forget my tests. I realised I wasn’t actually enjoying it. I gave myself a talking to and realised there is nothing to be nervous about, I’m entering competitions to enjoy myself, enjoy riding my horse and have fun! That’s when I realised that I do exactly the same at home every schooling day and thought, ‘Well if I do that, what can go wrong?!’ My horses started going a lot better, as I was totally relaxed and therefore my results were a lot better. I haven’t looked back since!”

H&R: Do you have a person you typically rely on for support at shows? If so, who and why are they the person you turn to?

Natasha: “My mum. I couldn’t do it without her. She grooms for me, she’s my psychologist when Joce isn’t about. She stays calm, therefore the horses are feeling good when I get on. She tells me to breathe when I’m not. She’s a brilliant calming influence if I do get my knickers in a twist!”

Your Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Newsletter Sign-up

Sign up now


August Horse&Rider magazine

Latest Issue