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Fri, 2013-05-31 00:00

Daniel Stewart Question and Tip of the Month

Authored By: Daniel Stewart

Question of the Month  

Karen asks, "I recently moved up a level and the added pressure is making it hard for me to stay positive. I feel as if there's a cranky black cloud hanging over my head much of the time now.  Is there anything I do to enjoy myself again?"  

This is a wonderful question. Our horses mean the world to us so we need to make sure that the time we spend with them is as enjoyable and fulfilling as possible. Regardless of whether you're competitive or recreational, this should be one of your most important goals because you can really only achieve true greatness doing things you love and enjoy. Sadly, if you're not enjoying yourself you'll probably struggle riding to your true potential.  

To create this kind of enjoyment it often helps to know the various mindsets that lead to it. If you know them - and can adopt them - the positive emotions you create (e.g. self-belief, confidence, enjoyment) will chase the black clouds away.

  • Abundance vs Scarcity Mindset- Instead of telling yourself what you don't have, or what you're not good at (what's scarce), tell yourself what you do have and what you are good at (what you have in abundance). Rather than always trying to get what you'd love, remind yourself to also love what you've already got.
  • Solution vs Problem Mindset- Instead of focusing on problems, teach yourself to find their solutions. It's true that problems can create black clouds, but finding their solutions is a sure way to clear them away. Teach yourself to see problems as learning opportunities (not missed opportunities) by focusing on the solutions rather than the problems.
  • Present vs Past/Future Mindsets- Instead of allowing your mind to focus on negative past experiences or the pressure of future outcomes (e.g. standings or placings) keep your mind locked in the present. One way to do this is to set performance show goals like "balance my corners and landings." If you focus on doing these things while showing you'll increase the chance of succeeding in the present rather than worrying about whether it'll happen in the future.
  • Belief vs Fear Driven Mindsets- Instead of focusing on what you're afraid of (e.g. losing, forgetting your test, pulling a rail), teach yourself to focus on what you believe you can make happen. Rather than being afraid of the kinds of things that might happen, become the kind of rider who goes out there and makes things happen!

Riding - like life - is all about making choices. When given the choice to choose who you'll become as a rider, always choose to focus on the great things you can do in the present, the many skills you have in abundancesolutions rather than their problems and the belief that you can make great things happen rather than simply being afraid of the kinds of things that might happen.

In the end, the love of the horse and of our sport, and the enjoyment we feel while riding comes down to always remembering that: 

Emotions Shouldn't Get The Best Of You...

They Should Get The Best Out Of You!
 

Tip of the Month

Leave a Legacy

The amount of enjoyment you feel when riding or showing can be influenced by many factors including your own expectations. If your expectations are too high, the chances of feeling doubt, disappointment, and defeat go up while the amount of enjoyment you feel goes down.  One way to avoid this is to always make sure you're setting reasonable and attainable goals for yourself.  

In previous newsletters I talked a lot about the different kinds of goals that lead to success (including short-term process and long-term product goals). While these goals are very important, perhaps the most important goal of all is something called a legacy goal.  

A legacy goal is the culmination of all the most important and meaningful things you'd love to accomplish in your riding life and how you plan on achieving them. If your friends and family got together to celebrate your life as an equestrian, what would you want them to say?  Would they say that you worked tirelessly to mentor young riders, dedicated yourself to the betterment of horses and never gave up when things got tough?  If so, set these inspiring desires as your legacy goal and go out and make them happen.  Here are a few examples: 

  • My legacy goal is to become a dedicated equestrian who always believed in her ability to overcome emotional obstacles; who devoted herself to helping others do the same; inspired young riders to find their love of riding; and worked tirelessly to ensure her horses received the level of care and devotion that they deserved.
  • My legacy goal is to become a talented rider; dedicated horseman; knowledgable trainer and lifelong mentor, and to use these skills and commitment to keep my horses and students safe, healthy, and successful throughout a lifetime of schooling and showing experiences.

If you create a legacy goal and live each and every day as if building that legacy, the black clouds of doubt, disappointment and defeat will most surely disappear because legacy goals aren't diminished by the number of times you win or lose; how often you forget your test; or how many rails you pull.  In fact, it's how you handle each and every one of your accomplishments and defeats that'll ultimately define who you become, what you believe in, and what you stand for as a rider.  Legacy goals create enjoyment because they help you to live your life today in a way that'll create your legacy tomorrow.   

Think about it for a while and when you have your legacy goal, print it in a big bold font; frame it; hang it somewhere you'll see every day; commit it to memory, and then remind yourself that your riding success won't be measured at one show or on one afternoon.  It will be measured after a lifetime of riding, so... 

Ride Every Day As If You're Living Your Legacy! 

To submit a question or sign up for equestrian sports psychologist Daniel Stewart's newsletter, visit www.stewartclinics.com

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