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A dream of passions

Sylvia Bruce shares her journey of Riders Minds.

Who’d have thought my cold call to Lucy Katan, British Grooms Association, in December 2017 after reading its members’ mental health survey results, would see me devising and writing content for a trilogy of bespoke on-line mental well-being resources for the equestrian industry.

A dream combination of my passions: people, mental health and equestrianism! Firstly Grooms Minds, then Employers Minds for Equestrian Employers Association and now Riders Minds following last year’s meeting where Matthew and Victoria Wright shared their aspirational idea with Lucy and myself.

Horses and horse riding is my enduring passion, joy, and overall well-being ‘go-to’. During a challenging childhood, my pony was everything including my refuge. It remained my cherished activity when at 18, my father got me a banking job and that was that. Professionally I was successful but later a series of personal life events triggered a ‘perfect storm’.

  I didn’t talk. I couldn’t express myself. I thought I’d cope. I had no comprehension of depression. My then horse became the only thing worth living for and sometimes not even she was enough. I eventually talked after another failed attempt to end my life.


After my recovery, alongside my banking job I trained to be a counsellor, then coach, including equine assisted coaching! From investment banking, I now work in mental health and performance. My current horse loves jumping, but I joyfully watch him with his incredibly talented junior rider - I know my limitations!

Talking about mental health matters because we become better informed, equipped and enabled on multiple levels, building our mental health confidence. That helps reduce stigma, discrimination, fear and many other inhibitors and limiting beliefs that may hinder, block, sabotage our pleasure, enjoyment and success.

It’s not weak to speak. Quite the opposite, and so much is at stake if we don’t. Talking means we can identify, and get, the help and support we need. We can work through what’s troubling us, find resolutions, ways forward. We can thrive and flourish, not just survive. We avoid missing out on all the things we like, and would like, to do and achieve, and the life and lives we could, and should have.

Riders Minds is, therefore, an important industry resource, particularly on three levels:

Individual: extensive evidence and testimonials show it’s much needed. It has potential to improve, protect and indeed save lives. Riders can maintain their privacy too, so important to remember.

Reputation and future: enhanced by having a first-class 24/7 resource to support, enable, and improve riders’ well-being, performance and enjoyment at all levels. It’s good for young, new or future participants to know this support resource exists too.

Industry: demonstrates its commitment to, and how seriously it takes, mental health by aligning itself with other sectors, industries and businesses by having such specific resources, and its content strategically cognisant of UK Government’s current guidelines, principles, mental health codes of conduct and 10 year vision for mental health in the UK.

RIDERS MINDS SUPPORT LINE

A 24 hours, 7 days a week service, means that you are never alone and there is always a trained helper ready to talk to you.

The helpline is for you if you are having challenges within the workplace or life in general, for example bullying, or are feeling low and unhappy.

It offers callers confidential help on a range of mental health and well being issues. 

The number to call is : 

0300 102 1540



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