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The year in review – with Joe Stockdale: “A lesson I needed to learn was that I know my horses and can trust my decisions”

Monday, 26 December 2022
Interview

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ.
"She has taken me through the levels; she is the one that has given me all these opportunities to jump at five-star level and on a championship team this year," Joe Stockdale says about Equine America Cacharel. "I owe a lot to her, and I am so lucky to have her.” Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ.

 

Text © World of Showjumping

 


 

This summer, Joe Stockdale was part of the British bronze medalist team at the ECCO FEI Jumping World Championship in Herning with his wonderful Equine America Cacharel (Cachas x Quinar Z). As the year turns towards its end, World of Showjumping sat down with the 23-year-old rider to hear about his thoughts on 2022 and how he feels moving towards 2023.

A horse of a lifetime 

“I had a busy year and there’s been a lot of progression for me,” Stockdale begins. “I have stepped myself and Equine America Cacharel up this year and it has been nice to have a bit of responsibility in the Nations Cup teams. Cacharel has been amazing, she is my horse of a lifetime. We have had her since she was three, and produced her ourselves all the way. That is already a nice feeling; knowing I have put all that work into her. She has taken me through the levels; she is the one that has given me all these opportunities to jump at five-star level and on a championship team this year. I owe a lot to her, and I am so lucky to have her.”

“A highlight for me was getting into the team for Herning,” Stockdale says. “That was a sort of a goal I set at the start of the year. Making it into a championship team is one of those things where a lot has to go right and many things can change in the overall plan during the build-up. Therefore, I was really delighted to actually be on the team and really get there, and obviously getting a good result made it even more special.” 

Underestimating emotions 

“I would say it was something that I maybe did not totally enjoy at the time, to be completely honest,” Stockdale smiles when asked about his first senior championship. “It was amazing to be there, and I feel like I learned so much from it, but it was tough. I did not know what to expect going in. Hopefully I can build on those rounds I had there and look onto the coming year with the 2023 European Championships and then the 2024 Olympics in Paris. It was a big learning curve for me and I took a lot out of it.”

“It is so difficult going into your first championship, and you feel a lot of responsibility and pressure,” Stockdale explains. “Obviously, there are other top combinations that have missed the spot you have been given, so you feel like you want to prove it was a good decision to select you and that you are capable – so already before you have even started, the pressure is mounting. The lead up to Herning was really tough for me. I feel like I spent a lot of time questioning myself, getting doubts in my mind as to whether I was doing the right things. When you don’t know what it is you are aiming for, you just try to do your best figuring out how to get ready. I expected it to be tough, but I still underestimated how difficult it was going to be – not necessarily just in the technicality of the courses and the jumping, but the whole emotional state that you end up in at a championship.”

“We had a decent first day,” Stockdale recalls. “I made a little mistake but she jumped very well. The second day, I made an error, and that feeling – in the first round for the team – of having made a mistake, and also feeling responsible… that was tough for me. But it was nice to bounce back with a final round that was a good and counting score for the team. Hopefully, if I do a couple more championships, I will be more relaxed and not over-trying to force a result. I think it is something you can certainly learn; by going there and doing it, being in those situations – there is no other way of knowing what it is like.”

Trust in yourself

“My biggest take away from Herning would be that you have to trust the process,” Stockdale continues. “I feel like the mistake I made on the second day was me trying to force the result – I over-analyzed the course. The first plan I made was actually exactly what I should have done but then I watched too many others, started to think what they had done – because they were more experienced than me – and that was wrong. I should have trusted myself, and that I had made the right decisions for my horse. That is what I did on the last day, and it paid off. When you are there and new to it, perhaps questioning your own ability, you don’t have the confidence to say ‘I know what I am doing and this is the right thing for me and my horse’. That was a lesson I needed to learn; I know my horses, and I can trust my decisions.” 

Looking towards the new year, Stockdale feels very excited. “I think I can build on a lot of what I have learned this year,” he says. “I feel more confident in myself, in my plans and my process. Looking into 2023, I will hopefully come out ready to go and pick up where I left off.” 

 

 

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