Feb 02, 2020

Daniel Stewart's Tip of the Month: Willpower, Horsepower, Why-Power, and What-Power

USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

You know the importance of willpower. Never quit, never give up, make the rest of the ride the best of the ride - all that stuff. And you know the importance of horsepower. Balance, strength, condition, stamina - all that stuff.

But what happens when your willpower and his horsepower aren’t enough? What happens when you do everything right, but it still goes wrong? Well, this is where why-power and what-power come in.

The next time your best isn’t good enough to avoid messing up or making a mistake, or the next time your 100 percent isn’t good enough to avoid fear or failure, think about why you started to ride in the first place, and what you love most about your horse and riding. You see, struggles often leave you with a bit of tunnel vision, making you focus entirely on the problem, and completely blinding you to what really matters most to you.

The next time “trouble tunnel vision” makes it difficult to shake off a defeat or disappointment, ask yourself what you love most about your horse and riding. Is it always winning and never losing? If you’re like most, that doesn’t even make your top three. Instead, think about what riding really means to you; why it’s so special; how it improves your life; what it’s taught you; and how it feels to share it with your riding mates.

But here comes the most important part of why-power and what-power. After asking yourself why you love riding so much, you need to actually answer the question! Even if it takes you a second, or a minute, or more, keep thinking until you find the answer. Doing so will help you slow down a bit, shift your focus from negative to positive, and most importantly, remind you why your’s so lucky - at a time when you might otherwise be feeling a bit unlucky - you were just to busy focusing on the problem to realize it!

Today, as you read this tip, take a few minutes to write three things you love most about your horse and riding. If you prefer, you can write three positive ways riding makes you feel (confident, courageous, content?). Once you have your list, make another list of situations that typically make you disappointed or frustrated (and forget your three things). Then in the future be mindful of when those situations arise - and when they do - help yourself through them by recalling your list of three because nothing - not a loss, a mistake, or a disappointment - are worth forgetting them!

In the end, always remember that horses aren't our whole lives. They make our lives whole!

I hope you enjoyed this month’s tip and that I’ll get the chance to teach you in one of my upcoming spring or summer clinics. For more information on my clinics, or hosting a clinic, visitwww.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.

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