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.

Jan 31, 2023 Educational Activities

USEA's Tip Tuesday: Cross-Country Positions with Karen O'Connor

For seasoned and novice riders alike, it is always good to revisit the basics. Serving as the foundation for any eventer, the positions used on the cross-country course differ from those in the dressage or show jumping ring. The USEA tuned into five-time Olympian, three-time World Equestrian Games rider, two Pan-American Games rider, and USEA ECP certified coach Karen O'Connor as she walked coaches and students at the USEA ECP Symposium through the basic positions for effective cross-country riding.

Jan 30, 2023

USEF New Phone and Fax Number

The USEF's main phone number and fax number have changed. We wanted to notify you so you continue to get the support you need.

Jan 30, 2023 Instructors

USEA Podcast #327: All About the Eventing Coaches Program

With the recent wrap-up of the 2023 Eventing Coaches Program (ECP) Symposium in Ocala, Florida, USEA Podcast Host Nicole Brown chats with ECP Faculty Members Jennifer Howlett Rousseau and Robin Walker about all things related to the ECP. From the USEA Eventing Handbook by the Levels to the benefits of pursuing certification, selecting the best coach for you, recapping this year's Symposium, and more - this week's USEA podcast is the perfect educational tool for coaches and riders alike!

Jan 29, 2023 Education

3 Steps to More Successful Saddle Time in 2023

Time is precious. Time with your horse even more so. If one of your resolutions for the New Year is to spend more time in the saddle or more time enjoying the barn, you’ll want to implement these best practices to minimize stress and make the most of 2023.

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