Feb 24, 2024

Pressure Proof Tip: Power Vowels

USEA/Lindsay Berreth photo

If you’re like most riders you’ve probably heard someone say something like, “Your last mistake is your best teacher,” or “if you’re doing everything right you’re doing something wrong because you’re in your comfort zone.” While I agree whole-heartedly with these sentiments, I actually prefer, “Equestrians don’t make mistakes. Mistakes make equestrians.” They make us bolder, braver, and brighter; but only when we develop a positive relationship with our mistakes and respond to them in productive ways.

Here's another quote I like: “We're not supposed to go through life. We’re supposed to grow through life.” But our ability to grow is determined by our experiences, and many of those experiences come in the form of mistakes. When we believe our mistakes are learning opportunities we enable the growth mindset which leads to understanding and improvement, but when we believe our mistakes are missed opportunities we end up feeling like a failure because we failed and then do everything we can to avoid making more, even if it means avoiding challenges, trying new things, or blaming our mistakes on others (insert judge, horse, wind, rain, or footing here).

Unfortunately, while this might protect a fragile ego, it robs us of the the ability to learn the lessons our mistakes were tasked to teach us. In a way, it’s a bit like clipping our own wings. To fly, we have to release what weighs us down, and for many of us it’s the sting and stigma associated with making mistakes.

Luckily there are lots tips, tricks, and techniques that can help us develop a more positive and accepting relationship with mistakes and help us regain the perception of power that mistakes can sometimes steal from us. The first technique is called power vowels because we’re encouraged to accept, examine, identify, own, and understand our mistakes. As you can see, this list forms the acronym A, E, I, O, U, and it’s designed to steer our thinking towards owning and learning from our mistakes (that’s the understanding part) instead of simply feeling bad because they happened.

I watched a fun YouTube video recently that can help explain this concept. In the video a distracted woman walks into the glass wall of a racketball court. Lowering her head in embarrassment she backs up and walks straight into the wall again! Even more embarrassed, she backs up again and walks into it a third time! So, here’s the message: the first time she hit the wall wasn’t a mistake, it was a learning opportunity. We all do that. The second time she hit the wall wasn’t a mistake, it was a missed opportunity. We sometimes do that. But the third time she hit the wall was a mistake! If she just stopped and accepted, examined, identified, owned, and understood the mistake she could have avoided those two extra bumps on her forehead!

A second trick that can help us redefine and strengthen our relationship with mistakes is a unique form of mental imagery. In this technique we simply imagine our mistakes as teachers who live outside of our comfort zone, and if we have the guts to push ourselves out there, we’re bound to bump into them because that’s where they live!

So this month, let's all examine our relationship with mistakes and do everything we can to redefine them as experiences that ultimately help us to fly instead of fall. Remember, “if you’re doing everything right you must be doing something wrong because you’re inside your comfort zone!” This month let's put our egos away and pull out the confidence and courage to go meet those teachers. After all, we can’t learn from them if we’re not willing to go into their classroom!

I hope you enjoyed this month’s Pressure Proof tip and are look forward to more in the future. If you’re a visual learner and would like to take my online and self-paced equestrian sport psychology class just let me know. It’s made-up of 30 short modules consisting of short video, written recaps, and short quizzes and I think you love it! For more information visit https://daniel-stewart-s-school.teachable.com/p/equestrian-sport-psychology.

Apr 13, 2024 Profile

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

Kelly O’Brien has her eye on a prize. “Pretty much the rest of this season will be targeted towards getting fired up for the AEC,” says O’Brien, 54. She and B E Never Say Never, a 19-year-old Dutch Warmblood, have qualified for the 2024 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds already, thanks to decisively winning all three of their 2024 outings thus far.

Apr 12, 2024 USEA Foundation

Applications for The Event at Rebecca Farm Travel Grant Due June 1

The Event at Rebecca Farm (Kalispell, Montana) is renowned amongst members of the eventing community for its exceptional competition venue, genuine hospitality, and stunning backdrops. The Broussard Family Charitable Foundation and USEA Foundation are excited to share that travel grants to this iconic venue are returning once again for 2024 to assist riders traveling to Montana to compete in the CCI3* and CCI4* divisions at this year’s competition which takes place July 17-21.

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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Official Joint Therapy Treatment of the USEA

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Official Equine Insurance of the USEA

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