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.

Jul 26, 2021 Young Event Horse

The Race to Le Lion: Three YEH Horses Fully Qualified, Seven YEH Horses Partially Qualified

The race to Le Lion continues with only three months to go! The 2021 FEI Eventing World Breeding Championships for Young Horses at Mondial du Lion in Le Lion d’Angers, France, will be held on October 21-24. The 6-year-old Championship is a CCIYH2*-L, and the 7-year-old Championship is a CCIYH3*-L.

Jul 25, 2021 Competitions

James Alliston Locks in Double Wins at Rebecca Farm

James Alliston was the big winner today at The Event at Rebecca Farm, with three top two finishes in the FEI divisions. Alliston won first in the CCI4*-Long, as well as first place and second place in the CCI3*-Long.

Jul 25, 2021 Profile

Tokyo Talk with the Grooms of Team USA

We know a lot about the athletes representing the USA on our Tokyo team, but what about those essential people, the grooms? Catherine Austen finds out more about Courtney Carson, Emma Ford, Bridget London, and Steph Simpson in this edition of Tokyo Talk.

Jul 24, 2021

Jennifer Brannigan Takes the Lead in the CCI4*-L

Ian Stark’s cross-country course resulted in changes among the FEI divisions on Saturday

Cross-country day for the FEI competitors at Rebecca Farm resulted in big changes in the top three standings in the 4* divisions. The current top three riders in the CCI4*-Long all put in double-clear rounds to maintain their dressage scores from the first day of competition.

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