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.

May 31, 2020 Grants

Apply Now for the 2021 Worth the Trust Scholarship

In 2000 and with the support of Joan Iversen Goswell, the Worth the Trust Scholarships were established to provide financial assistance to amateurs to pursue their education in eventing. The funds from the Worth the Trust Educational Scholarship may be used for training opportunities such as clinics, working student positions, and private or group instruction, or to learn from an official, course designer, technical delegate, judge, veterinarian, or organizer.

May 30, 2020 Educational Activities

MACTA Cross-Country Schooling Day a Success Amid COVID-19 Restrictions

The spring eventing season in the Midwest is always a toss-up due to unpredictable weather. Will it rain, will it be sunny, or will it be a snowstorm? No one knows! Mid-America Combined Training Association’s (MACTA) first cross-country schooling of the season was cancelled in March due to extremely muddy footing conditions and by the time our April dates came around, COVID-19 was in full force and we were unable to host our cross-country schooling and schooling show.

May 29, 2020 Eventing News

FEI Publishes Return to Play Policy as Equestrian Adapts to “New Normal”

The FEI has published its Policy for Enhanced Competition Safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, aimed at assisting organizers and national federations with the safe resumption of international equestrian events in line with national and local restrictions.

May 29, 2020 AEC

USEA Approves New Qualification Period for 2020 AEC

The United States Eventing Association (USEA) has approved additional modifications to the qualification period for the 2020 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds. The AEC is scheduled to take place August 25-30, 2020 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, and the USEA is doing everything possible to ensure a safe and successful Championship, while also ensuring fair opportunities for all.

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