Feb 06, 2018

Daniel Stewart's Tip of the Month: Thought Chatter

USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

A few months ago we began a series of tips dedicated to creating positive riding potential by making sure the words we say to ourselves are positive. This month we’ll continue that conversation with a unique three-part technique called thought-stopping…but before we do, let's first talk about a few surprising numbers.

Your brain thinks up to 60,000 thoughts each day, which is about forty thoughts a minute or one thought every 1.5 seconds. But here comes the craziest number of all. For the untrained brain, up to 70% of those thoughts can be counterproductive to success in riding! Those that come in the form of dread and doubt, memories and mistakes, frustrations and fears - and what I like to call wonder, wishing, worrying, and what-ifs - all contribute to the surprising number of unwelcome thoughts, called thought chatter, that can enter our minds.

So, what these numbers really mean is that our brains are hardwired to think (it can’t actually stop thinking), but when it does it can be pretty good at thinking pretty bad. That is, until we teach ourselves to recognize the negative chatter, stop it, and replace it with more positive options. That’s where the three steps of thought-stopping come in:

  1. Thought-Recognition — You become aware of when you’re thinking negative chatter.
  2. Thought-Stopping — You disrupt the flow of the chatter by saying a thought-stopping word to yourself, like the words “whoa” or “halt.”
  3. Thought-Replacement — Once you’ve disrupted the flow of the chatter, you replace it with a positive replacement thought.

Here’s an example:

  1. Your recognize yourself saying something like, “I always get nervous when everyone else rides well in my class.”
  2. You stop the flow of that negative thought chatter by saying the word “halt” to yourself (inside or outside voice).
  3. You replace the negative thought chatter with, “Watching other riders helps me learn the nature of the jump course.”

So this month, begin to listen to your thought chatter and create a thought-stopper and thought replacement to stop and replace it if it drifts south of positive. Memorize both (nervousness has a tricky way of making you forgetful) and always remember that to fly you have to give up what weighs you down…and sometimes that just might need to be your very own thought chatter!

Join Coach Stewart at the US Olympic Training Centers in Colorado Springs and Lake Placid this summer for four-day Equestrian Athlete Training Camps. Riders of all ages, levels, and disciplines are welcome and members of the USEA receive a $250 scholarship. For more information visit the Pressure Proof Academy website.

Mar 01, 2021 Competitions

Weekend Quick Links: March 6-7, 2021

Are you following along with the action from home this weekend? Or maybe you're competing at an event and need information fast. Either way, we’ve got you covered! Check out the USEA’s Weekend Quick Links for links to information including the prize list, ride times, live scores, and more for all the events running this weekend.

Mar 01, 2021 Eventing News

Badminton Horse Trials Cancels 2021 Event

It is with great disappointment and regret, which we know will be shared by many, that we announce the cancellation of the 2021 Badminton Horse Trials which was due to be held “behind closed doors” between May 5 and May 9. This cancellation also includes the BE90 and BE100 Championships (May 4 and 5).

Mar 01, 2021 Association News

USEA Podcast #278: Team Talk #4

We've got another Team Talk update for you listeners this week! Nicole Brown is joined once again by USEF Eventing High Performance Director Erik Duvander and USEF Managing Director for Eventing Jenni Autry to talk about the U.S. eventing team's path forward to Tokyo.

Feb 28, 2021 Profile

Now on Course: Heartbeats and Hoofbeats

My name is Tayah Fuller and I’m 14 years old. “On course” to me is a phrase that makes my heart pump fast and my excitement go wild. There is no better feeling than galloping through a field or flying over cross-country jumps with my heart thrumming along, especially when it is with my best friend. You see, I was born with a congenital heart murmur. While it has never really affected my athletic abilities, the one time that I notice it is when I am riding through a cross-country course with my horse.

Official Corporate Sponsors of the USEA

Official Outerwear of the USEA

Official Supplement Feeding System of the USEA

Official Forage of the USEA

Official Feed of the USEA

Official Saddle of the USEA

Official Joint Therapy Treatment of the USEA

Official Equine Insurance of the USEA