Oct 19, 2021

Pressure Proof: Scripting

USEA/ KTB Creative photo

The only sure thing about riding is that sooner or later you’ll succeed- and sooner or later you’ll fail. Like it or not, the reality of a sport as complex and challenging as ours is that doing everything right doesn’t always guarantee things will turn out that way. You’ll present your horse the perfect fence with the perfect approach and perfect quality canter, all to have it go south because of a plastic bag in the corner! Unfortunately, you’ve picked the wrong sport if you wanted everything to go right all the time.

While you can’t always predict when you’ll struggle, you can certainly prepare for it. In fact, preparation is the key to ensuring your struggles won’t derail your train of thought, or even worse, make it jump tracks to one of despair and disappointment. Controlling your emotions at a time when your emotions try to take control of you is a sign of resilience and a sign that you’re more than capable of showing.

That’s where scripting comes. Scripting happens when you prepare for inevitable challenges by writing and reciting a series of positive reminders (your script) whenever you begin to feel a bit bad or bummed out. The idea behind scripting is that it can be pretty hard harder to think of good things when you’re feeling bad, but that feeling bad gets a whole lot harder when you begin saying a bunch of good things!

The first step to creating your “stress script” is to identify the kind of mental challenges (stressors) that bother you most. Is it pre-show doubts, pulling a rail, forgetting your course, or losing? If so, make a mental note of it and move on to the next step. The second step is writing a script that's you’ll recite when you encounter that stressor. Ideally, your script will have plenty of self-support and positivity and come in the form of a (1) positive reminder and (2) a catchy motto like, “I’ve come from behind before and can do it again. It’s time to make the rest of the ride the best of the ride!”

While reciting a positive-support-script will certainly help keep your train of thought on the right track, it’s actually only half of the battle. The real key to scripting (the other half) is that you don’t just say it, you act it! In other words, you act out the words in your script as if you were an actor or actress. This is the key to scripting because bringing your words and actions together helps you to get into character! After all, the most successful actors aren’t the ones who simply memorize and repeat the words… they’re the ones who also use supporting body language and attitude to bring their words to life.

So this month, why not get into character and bring out your inner actor or actress by writing, memorizing, reciting, and performing your very own stress script. Like a real actor, you might not be perfectly believable in the beginning, but keep practicing and rehearsing, and don’t be surprised if you begin to get pretty convincing. Remember, you can’t always predict when you’ll struggle, but you can certainly prepare by writing and bringing a stress script to life. Who knows maybe you’ll win an Oscar!

I hope you enjoyed this month's Pressure Proof tip. If you’d ever like to speak with me in person just email me at [email protected]. Beginning this month I’ll be re-starting my private phone consultations and I’m sure you’d find them both enjoyable and beneficial!

Feb 02, 2023 Eventing News

In Memoriam: James C. Wofford

The USEA is heartbroken to hear about the loss of James “Jimmy” C. Wofford. A lifelong lover and supporter of the sport, Wofford has had an astounding influence on where eventing is today and has tirelessly supported the goals of the United States Eventing Association. He served as president of the American Horse Show Association (now U.S. Equestrian (USEF)), was the first vice-president of the U.S. Equestrian Team (USET), and served as secretary of the USCTA (now USEA). He served two terms as a member of the FEI Eventing Committee, including two years as vice chairman. In addition, he has served on numerous committees during his career.

Feb 02, 2023 Classic Series

Blast from the Past: Compete in a USEA Classic Series Event in 2023

Experience the thrill of traditional long format three-day eventing by competing in a USEA Classic Series event in 2023! The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is pleased to announce that the 2023 Classic Series calendar is now available.

Feb 01, 2023 Profile

Rescue Horse Runaway Romeo Finds His Calling

Amanda Walker wasn’t sure what she’d gotten herself into when she went to try Runaway Romeo as a potential sales project in 2018. The gelding was a bit bigger than Walker was looking for and was quite pushy coming out of the stall. When she got on, it didn’t get much better.

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.

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