Sponsored Jockey Lilly Pinchin discusses Mental Health

01 June 2023

Lilly answers our questions and shares her tips for positive Mental Health at work and home.
This year Barrett Steel are proud to sponsor upcoming jockey talent Lilly Pinchin. Last season Lilly had her best season to date, riding 168 horses and winning 24 races, including breakthrough wins at Cheltenham. 

She has backed this up at the start of the new season with an emphatic win on Everyonesgame this week at Warwick riding for Charlie Longsdon.

Racing is a notoriously tough industry, filled with the risk of injury but also offers great rewards and partnerships. We sat down with Lilly recently and spoke about Mental Health. Firstly how she copes with this in her own profession but also what we can learn from a professional mindset. 
  1. What role does mental strength play in the sport of horse racing, and how have you cultivated your own mental toughness over your career? Can you share any strategies or tools you use to manage pre-race stress/nerves and maintain your mental well-being?
Mental health strength in the sport is exceedingly difficult, but as you mature that mental strength increases. You need to draw on mental strength in situations where you are having a quiet time in terms of getting rides or not riding as many winners, so you must keep going in those situations and look forward to the next ride or opportunity.
  1. How have you balanced the demands of being a jockey in the public eye with taking care of your mental health with the pressure and expectation that comes with the territory? What role does your support system, such as friends, family, pets, or mental health professionals, play in your mental health journey?
Personally, I balance my mental health thanks to my pets and my family around me. I have two Jack Russell Terriers who I love, and they are like my best friends. Pets are always so happy to see you when you get home from work and my family are incredibly supportive of my career even though they know nothing about the racing industry itself. I find that beneficial because when I come home, they ask how I have got on but do not go into details or have opinions allowing me to switch off from the job.
  1. Can you share any strategies or tools you use to manage pre-race stress/nerves and maintain your mental well-being? How has your mindset and approach to mental health evolved over your career to date?
I am not naturally a nervous person but in situations where the pressure is on, I just try to focus on enjoying myself and the experience as it happens rather than focusing on what the outcome could be. I am the type of person who takes things for what they are in the moment “it is what it is” and focus on staying present in that moment.
  1. How do you stay motivated and focused when facing setbacks or obstacles such as injury or falls in your racing career? Have you ever had to overcome self-doubt or imposter syndrome, and how did you navigate those feelings?
I stay motivated by always looking forward to that next ride and look forward to riding horses and racing on them. For me (although racing is my career) it is also my hobby and what I enjoy. I really enjoy riding, so I focus less on the job aspect of racing and more on that partnership with the horse each day.

And with injury, it is hard, after a fall you must try and move forward and in racing, we have fantastic support network, for example Oaksey House and great teams down there including physios, dieticians, mental health practitioners and counsellors etc which are vital to Jockeys. It is incredibly hard for jockeys who are injured to watch other people ride your horses whilst you are out of the saddle, but I do not let it affect me.
  1. Can you share a specific instance where you had to overcome a mental health challenge to achieve a particular goal or milestone in your career?
Yes, I had one season where I found it hard to get the rides, I was hoping for so I kept my head down and worked really hard and managed to take the time to build up great contacts that managed to propel me back up to the success seen in the season I have just had. I am incredibly lucky that I had that motivation to not give up and a lot of that was my family supporting me towards my goals.
  1. How do you avoid burnout and prioritize self-care and rest while also maintaining a rigorous racing and exercise schedule?
Thankfully, I am a person who likes to be busy, so burnout is not something I usually suffer from but to be able to have such a rigorous schedule and perform well I ensure that I focus on eating well and resting fully, I like sleeping!
  1. What would you say to someone who is hesitant to seek help for their mental health struggles out of fear it may impact their own careers? Have you ever taken a break from racing to prioritize your mental health, and if so, how did that decision impact your career?
I have not personally taken a break from racing in my career. For me it would be more damaging mentally to not be around the sport and horses that is my passion. If I took a break, I would worry more about missing vital opportunities, so my focus is always on looking after myself physically around my career, resting, speaking to professional support and family/friends.

For me just being around horses I feel is beneficial to positive mental health, they are incredible animals, and they really help take your mind off situations you may be facing. Equine therapy is also known as equine-assisted therapy (EAT), equine-assisted learning (EAL), and equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP). This therapy involves horse activities to promote physical, emotional, and occupational growth for individuals who suffer from certain mental disorders. Equine therapy helps an individual build their self-confidence, self-efficiency, communication, trust, impulse control, social skills, and other areas.

Horses help build these skills because they have similar behaviour patterns as humans so I would recommend horses as a form of therapy.
  1. What support networks do you benefit from and why are they so important to your career?
My family but also friends play a significant role. Much of my friend network lies outside of the racing community which helps me recharge from racing. I am also thankful to have a fantastic professional Jockey Coach and my Trainers who I ride for are great and always there to support me.
Top 10 Tips for better mental health
  • Always look ahead to new opportunities, dwelling too much on the past can form a negative mindset.
  • Animals can be a major source of comfort and companionship, either through having your own animals or by volunteering at local rescue centres, stables, or community projects.
  • Find a network of friends outside of your chosen career path, take time to switch off and enjoy talking about other hobbies and interests with family and friends.
  • Focus on the journey rather than just the result. Fear of failure can prevent us from enjoying the process of learning and growing.
  • Speak to professional support when needed and do not neglect your physical or mental health.
  • Success is not linear, and you will have times where you need to reset and refocus to get to your goals.
  • Don’t under estimate the power of a nutrious diet. Good nutrition has a substantial impact on mental health, energy and well being.
  • Get the correct amount of sleep or rest that your body needs to function. A healthy balance is neccasary to promote postivie mental health.
  • Having a coach or mentor can be really beneficial to mental health. Whether that is in a career or sports setting.
  • Talk! If you are concerned about your mental health reach out to family, friends or a professional charity such as Mind UK, Shout etc who will always be there to listen.

Sponsored Jockey Lilly Pinchin discusses Mental Health

Recent Updates