Jun 04, 2019

Daniel Stewart's Tip of the Month: Memory Motivation

USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

One of the most rewarding things about riding is that it provides you with years of endless, amazing memories. From the crazy times spent with your horses to the comical times spent with your trainers and mates, there’s no shortage of wonderful things to remember. Thanks to the meaningful relationship between horse and rider, our memories are often stronger than those shared by athletes in other sports (after all, you never see a tennis player hugging his racquet or a hockey player taking his stick for a walk!) The good news is that our memories don’t just remind us of all the amazing things we’ve experienced in the past, they can also help us create more amazing memories in the future too!

Memory motivation occurs when you allow memories from your past to motivate you in the present. Like the time when you were a bit nervous and a friend or family member reminded you how well you did here last year, or how much fun you had the last time. In this example, the carefree and empowering memories from your past can help you to regain the motivation and confidence needed to succeed in the present.

Memory motivation works best when you know exactly what situations make you the most nervous. Is it competing in front of a crowd; being criticized by a judge; or going last in a class? Is it D, all of the above? If so, come up with a few pre-defined, go-to, positive memories from the past (like when you rode really well in front of a judge) and then simply recall those memories the next time you begin to struggle and allow them to prove that you’ve always had the mental skills need to overcome that challenge.

We all use memory motivation daily but it’s important that we develop the skill to always use it for good, not evil (for example, continually thinking of negative memories like falls, fears, and freak-outs that have a negative impact on your motivation). Memory motivation can also get confused with another coping technique called detachment, i.e. escaping a stressful situation by visualizing that you’re in another, more calming location. In memory motivation, however, the positive memories from your past prove that you can handle the challenges in the present without feeling like you have to escape them to overcome them.

If you’re careful, you can even turn things a bit upside-down by thinking of a negative memory (like the disappointment you felt the last time you quit instead of finishing strong) and then use that memory to convince yourself to avoid the same kind of disappointment by never quitting again. Obviously, it’s important that you take care when using negative memories to motivate you in a positive way, but it’s a really effective tool and one that you should consider using.

So this month, spend a little time thinking about memory motivation, and then think of two or three positive, pleasant, and empowering memories from your past that can help you to become more confident, courageous, calm in the present!

USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

I hope you’re enjoying my monthly tips and that I get the chance to see you in an upcoming clinic, or that I'll see you at one of my four-day Equestrian Athlete Training Camps held this summer at the Olympic Training Centers in Colorado Spring, Colorado or Lake Placid, New York. Riders of all levels and ages are welcome! For more information, click here.

Interested in sports psychology? Applications for the 2020 Worth the Trust Sports Psychology Scholarships are now available and are due on October 7, 2019. For more information, please contact Nancy Knight, (703) 669-9997.

Oct 16, 2021 Competitions

The Maryland 5 Star Daily: Cross-Country Day

It's the day we have all been waiting for, cross-country day at the inaugural Maryland 5 Star! Both the CCI5*-L and CCI3*-L field will contest Ian Stark's terrain-filled track across the historic grounds at Fair Hill today and there is lots of chatter about how the questions, terrain, and time allowed might impact the current placings.

Oct 15, 2021 Young Event Horse

Gina Jumps to Champion Title in Dutta Corp. USEA YEH East Coast 5-year-old Championships

Chris Talley came into the Dutta Corp USEA YEH East Coast 5-year-old Championships knowing that the Corwin Sport Horse LLC’s owned 5-year-old Hanoverian mare Gina (Gentleman x Ballerina) possessed a lot of quality, but to emerge victorious out of the 42 horse field was an absolute treat for the pair.

Oct 15, 2021 Competitions

A Faer Price to Pay for Martin Right On Cue

No one could catch Oliver Townend and Cooley Master Class in the dressage arena today despite the remaining 23 pairs' best effort. Angela Hislop’s 16-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Ramiro B x The Swallow) will stand at the top of the leaderboard on a 21.1 heading into the Maryland 5 Star cross-country – the day which is on everyone’s mind.

Oct 15, 2021 Competitions

The Maryland 5 Star Daily: Dressage Day Two & YEH 5-Year-Old Jumping

Yesterday half of the CCI5*-L and CCI3*-L pairs had their turn in front of the judges at the 2021 Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill, and today the remaining groups will canter down centerline in the main arena. The Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) East Coast Championships also kicked off yesterday with the 4-year-old champion being crowned and the 5-year-olds doing their dressage and conformation phases.

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