Apr 02, 2024

Pressure Proof Tip: Letting Down and Living Up

USEA/Lindsay Berreth photo

One of the best thing about our sport is that we all get to share it with the people who mean the most to us. Our friends and family have an open-ended invitation to watch our classes, clinics, and competitions; and our trainers, grooms, horse owners, and barn-mates are permanent fixtures at our most meaningful and memorable events.

But what happens when the presences of our loved-ones shift our thinking from well-wishing to worrying? What happens when our thoughts shift from spending time with them, to a fear letting them down or not living up to their expectations? In my 40 years of coaching, I believe this is one of the heaviest anchors any rider can carry…and one that should be thrown overboard as soon as possible!

As riders, we tend to be a pretty empathetic group. We care about our trainers, team, and tribe. We care about how they feel and what they think…but sometimes we may just care a little too much. When those who mean the most to us begin make us wonder (what they’re thinking), wish (they weren’t watching) or worry (about letting them down or not living up to their expectations), we’ve turned a wholesome relationship into worrisome one. The good news is there’s a simple trick that can turn any intimidating relationship back into a motivating one…and that’s where this month’s Pressure Proof tip comes in.

So just how do we reverse a relationship that’s gone from motivating to intimidating? Well you begin by reminding yourself that people who love you (from your friends and family to your trainer and team) would never expect you to be perfect. They’d never expect you to always win or never lose. To them you’ll never be first or worst, first or first loser. They simply care too much about you to define you by perfection, especially in a sport that doesn't allow it.

But while they would never expect you to be perfect, they can rightfully expect one thing, and that is that you always do your best. That you finish strong after a slow start and hold it together when it would be normal to fall apart.

With this in mind, the trick to changing a mess-up-and-let-down mindset is to simply pledge to always do your best; knowing that if you do your best you’ll be doing everything anyone could ever ask of you. You never leave anything in the tank and never quit on yourself. Here’s a story that can help this idea become a little easier to understand:

Prior to entering the show arena you tell your husband you’re going to do your best but then pull the first two fences! You’re struggling and upset and wish you could pull the ripcord and bail-out, but you know you can’t because you told him you’d do you best, and your best doesn’t look like quitting when things get tough! So you push on, get into the rhythm and make the rest of the ride the best of the ride.

Afterwards you tell your husband that it didn’t go the way you had planned, but that you didn’t quit on yourself and you did your best, to which he replies, “That’s all I’d ever ask.”

In this simple reply is the realization that if you’re doing you’re best you can never really let loved-ones down or fail to live up to their expectations because all they expected from you is exactly what you gave them. Your best.

Here’s another concept that can make this idea even clearer: When your horse does his very best but still messes up, do you love him any less? When your best friend does her very best but still messes up, do you love her any less? Chances are pretty good your answers to both are, “No, I don’t love them any less because they did their best, ”and in this response is the realization that you too only ask and expect your loved-ones to do their best. So in the future, when those who care about you make you begin to wonder, wish and worry; always remind yourself to treat yourself like you treat those you love and just do-your-best-and-give-nothing-less.

I hope you enjoyed this month’s Pressure Proof tip and are looking forward to more in the future. If you’re a trainer or upper level rider and would like to take the Pressure Proof Coaching Academy’s instructor certification course on equestrian sport psychology please let me know. The course is online and self-paced so you can binge it in a month or take your time. For more information visit https://pressureproofacademy.com/certifications/

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Now On Course: AEC Dreaming After a 30-Year Hiatus with Kelly O'Brien

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Apr 12, 2024 Resources

Heads Up Competitors! Important Information Surrounding Entry Form and Liability Waiver Requirements for USEA/USEF Eventing Competitions

When aiming to compete in a United States Eventing Association (USEA) recognized competition (national competition or international competition), licensed or endorsed by the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), understanding and fulfilling the specific requirements for entry forms and liability waivers is crucial.

Apr 12, 2024 Emerging Athletes U21

USEA Names Athletes for 2024 EA21 Regional Programs

The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is pleased to announce the athletes selected for the 2024 USEA Emerging Athlete U21 Program (EA21). USEA Young Rider program members aged 21 and under are eligible for the program. The purpose of the USEA EA21 Program is to identify and provide consistent quality instruction to the next generation of elite event riders.

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