Dec 04, 2019

Daniel Stewart's Tip of the Month: Question Suggestion

USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

Keeping your mind focused on what’s productive (like transitions between dressage movements or fences) instead of what’s destructive (like worrying about the crowd) is one of the most important skills any rider can learn. While it’s a skill that can require a bit of practice, it’s one that can be learned quite quickly - as long as you know a trick. The good news is that there is a trick, and that trick is called question suggestion.

The idea behind question suggestion is that asking yourself leading questions like, “What can I do to relax?” is much more effective than simply telling yourself what to do like, "Quit freaking out”, because self-directed leading questions stimulate your brain to search out their answers. For example, asking yourself, “How can I stay calm before a show,” might lead to answers like, “Take a few relaxing breaths, think of a positive memory from the past, and listen to a calm song before mounting.”

Question suggestion works because it allows your focus to shift from problems to solutions and from the past to the present. It also creates purposeful and intentional thoughts instead of allowing your mind to randomly lock onto something it shouldn’t (like who’s watching you). Self-directed questions do this by stimulating your mind to search for solutions to problems instead of allowing your mind to be consumed by the problem itself.

Here are a few tricks to creating your own questions suggestions:

  1. Ask yourself questions that begin with “how” because they tend to direct your attention towards solutions. For example, “How can I remain calm?” can be answered by, “Say a motivating motto like, Keep Calm Ride On.”
  2. Avoid questions that start with the word “why” because they tend to direct your answers towards the problem. For example, “Why do I always get so nervous?” is often answered with something like, “Because everyone’s better than me!”
  3. Never answer your questions with the words “I don’t know.” You can avoid this by pausing for a brief moment after asking your question (so your mind can find an answer). If you rush your response, you may not have time to find the answer.
  4. Consider asking yourself questions about how you look and/or feel. For example, “What do I look like when I’m confident?” or “How do I feel when I’m relaxed?” Once you’ve created the picture in your mind, change your body language to match it.

I hope you enjoyed this month’s tip and that I’ll get the chance to teach you in one of my upcoming winter or spring clinics! For more information visit www.pressureproofacademy.com.

Interested in sports psychology? Applications for the 2021 Worth the Trust Sports Psychology Scholarships will be available soon. For more information, please contact Nancy Knight, (703) 669-9997.

Oct 03, 2022 Convention

Announcing the Keynote Speaker for the 2022 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention: Dr. Sue Dyson

Have you ever wondered why your horse isn’t performing at their best? Get ready to learn about the many facets that can contribute to lameness and poor performance in sport horses from equine orthopedics expert, Dr. Sue Dyson! The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is pleased to announce that Dr. Dyson will be the keynote speaker at the 2022 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention in Savannah, GA this December 7-11.

Oct 02, 2022 Profile

Change of Rein: Rosie Smith's Journey from Reining to the #2022AEC

Rosie Smith’s rose gold accented helmet matched her perfectly tidy bun of red hair as she took the third spot in the USEA Training Rider Championship at the 2022 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nurena Feeds. Every little detail came together while aboard her trusted partner of nine years: the 20-year-old Connemara Irish Draught named Seamus (by Corrcullen, RID). But Smith’s first jump, back when she was only 15 years old, wasn’t with an English saddle.

Oct 01, 2022 Volunteers

The VIP Volunteer: Lisa Pragg

Lisa Pragg is a busy woman, but between her normal day job and competing her own 19-year-old Thoroughbred Impeccable she still prioritizes time to volunteer - both at horse trials and as a volunteer firefighter. Pragg understands the importance that volunteers play in the eventing community and makes sure to give whatever time she can back as a fair gesture.

Sep 30, 2022 Convention

Registration is Now Open for the 2022 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention in Savannah, Georgia!

Attention USEA members! Registration for the 2022 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention is now open! The convention will be held in person on December 7-11, 2022 at the Hyatt Regency Savannah Hotel in Savannah, Georgia.

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