Mar 02, 2019

Daniel Stewart's Tip of the Month: Verbal Erasers

USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

No one’s perfect (nope, not you either) so it’s just a matter of time before you mess up or throw your horse under the bus. Perhaps you did you best, but your best wasn’t good enough, or maybe you unintentionally lost your temper with your horse or trainer. Regardless of the mess up, you’ll always be able to make up for it - as long as you shrink the size of your but - not butt - but “but” (boy, that’s a lot of buts!)

So why am I talking so much about buts? Well, it’s because the word BUT is part of a unique family of words and phrases called verbal erasers - words that have a nasty habit of unintentionally erasing positive things while encouraging you to focus on the negative. Just like the eraser on the end of your pencil that erases words that have been written (assuming you haven’t chewed it off yet!), verbal erasers erase words that have been spoken - even if those words are positive - and BUT is the most common eraser of all!

It’s possible that this is the first time you’ve ever heard of verbal erasers, so here are a few examples that should make them a bit easier to understand:

  • I know I’m capable of riding well - but - everyone else is so much better than me!
  • I know my first few fences were great - but - the last few were horrible!
  • I know you think I’m a good rider - but - the last time I rode I was so bad!

It’s easy to see how the word “but” can erase the positive sentiments contained in the first half of the sentence - make you forget or discount them. This is because words spoken after an eraser are interpreted by your brain as ten-times stronger than those that occurred before it! Verbal erasers are also quite common in apologies. For example when you say, “I’m sorry I yelled at you - but - you made me so mad”, you’re not really sorry at, you’re still just blaming the other person!

Verbal erasers also come in the form of common phrases. You’ve probably even used a few recently:

  • I know I’m capable of riding well - the only problem is - everyone else is so much better than me!
  • I know my first few fences were great - I just wish - the last few weren’t so horrible!
  • I know you think I’m a good rider - there’s just one thing - the last time I rode I was so bad!

It has been said if you’re not making enough mistakes you’re just not trying hard enough, and that if you’re doing everything right you must be doing something wrong. Owning your mistakes, weaknesses, and challenges is an important part of evolving as a ride. After all, mistakes are bound to happen when you have the courage to leave your comfort zone. So, the next time you make a mistake, leave your eraser at home and remember that to grow as a rider, you just need to shrink the size of your but!

USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

I hope you’re enjoying my monthly tips and that I get the chance to see you at one of my dressage, cross-country, or show jumping clinics this summer. You can see all my available clinic dates on the Pressure Proof Academy website. You can also join me at one of my four-day Equestrian Athlete Training Camps this summer in Colorado, New York, Maryland, and Tennessee. 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.

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Lynn Klisavage got her start teaching riding lessons on Barber’s Point Naval Air Base on O’ahu, Hawaii in the 1960s. When she was in her early 20s, she and her family relocated to Colorado Springs, Colorado, and it was there that Klisavage became the Director of the Air Force Academy Stables.

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USEA Announces Virtual Adult Team Challenge

The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is pleased to announce a virtual Adult Team Challenge to take place this fall. Following the cancellation of the 2020 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds, including the Adult Team Championships (ATC), the Adult Rider Coordinators came together to develop an opportunity for their peers.

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ICP Spotlight: Area VIII

For over 20 years the USEA Instructors’ Certification Program (ICP) has been educating all levels of eventing instructors to confirm their knowledge base, both theoretical and practical, upon which they will continue to build throughout their teaching lifetime. The USEA is now shining the spotlight each month on some of the 300 ICP Certified Instructors.

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