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.

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Fast Facts: 2021 Jersey Fresh International

The 18th annual Jersey Fresh International (JFI) gets underway this afternoon at the Horse Park of New Jersey in Allentown, N.J. The CCI4*-L is the final selection trial for the Olympic Games in Tokyo later this summer so all eyes will be on the stacked field.

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This year’s Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5*-L was on April 21-25 and was the first five-star event to take place in the U.S. since 2019. The entry list had the best riders in the world, previous Kentucky champions, Olympic hopefuls, and horses who have been eventing in the U.S. since they were 4 years old.

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US Equestrian Job Opening: Director of Eventing Sport Management & Administration

US Equestrian is seeking applications of employment for their Director of Eventing Sport Management & Administration position.

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Sport Horse Health and Performance Series

Please join the Equine High Performance Sports Group for their new Sport Horse Series. Interact with human athlete trainers, champions in equestrian sport, and their coaches, veterinarians, farriers, and grooms to translate and apply their knowledge in training, treatment, preventative medicine, services, etc. of equine athletes under your care.

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