Aug 07, 2022

Pressure Proof with Daniel Stewart: Hurry Up and Wait

USEA/ KTB Creative Group photos

Perhaps some of the most troubling, yet common words you’ll ever hear before any class, clinic, or competition are: “sorry folks, we seem to have a delay on course.” You’re perfectly prepared and are ready to perform only to have it all thrown out the wait window. You’ve warmed-up well, arrived at the arena on time and peaked - only to be told to hurry up and wait! Thankfully, you have a plan prepared for this very possibility: your Delay Plan.

For the past few months, we’ve been discussing the different ways to prepare for the endless array of challenges that can derail your train of thought before a ride. We began by discussing the plan you can employ when everything goes according to plan (the plan-plan) and then shifted our attention to the kind of plan you can use when you’re in a rush (the quickie-plan). This month we’ll move our focus to the third plan (in this series of four) by discussing the plan you can use to stay positive, prepared, and peaked- even when facing a delay.

The problem with delays is that they often make riders second-guess themselves and create the potential for disappointment and doubt in the form of why-me and what-if. Like my last two plans, you can’t predict a delay, but you can certainly prepare for one and that’s where this month’s tip comes in.

The goal of any delay plan is to create (and complete) a list of constructive tasks that’ll keep your mind (and horse) so focused on the productive that it’s incapable of focusing on the destructive. The good news is that there’s no shortage of constructive and productive tasks you can do while waiting- you just need to identify them and put them to work for you when the delay hits.

Delays come in three forms: (1) long, (2) longer, and (3) are-you-kidding-me!-long. Each one has its own set of challenges meaning each one should also have its own set of tasks. Here are a few common examples of each:

• Long delays - Return to the warm-up arena and work on a challenging task (like your flying changes or transitions) while taking short breaks to visualize your upcoming course. In this way, you change a disappointing delay into the opportunity to improve a skill while also feeling more prepared.

• Longer delays - Return to the stabling area, dismount, loosen your girth, stretch your horse’s legs, stretch your own legs, review your goals, have a briefing with your trainer, and visualize your course. You have more time now, so take the time to do more productive and constructive things!

• Are-you-kidding-me!-long delays - Head back to the barn, dismount, loosen the girth and then clean some tack, polish some bits, re-organize your tack trunk, and/or braid the mane, or any other time-consuming task that will keep your brain focused on the positive and productive.

The method behind the madness of coping with delays is that your brain is actually hard-wired to give more priority to bad stuff (like the why-mes and what-ifs) than the good stuff (like appreciating the extra time to prepare). So this month switch the narrative and prove to yourself that you can maximize your success (and sanity!) even during times of delay and distraction by creating your own version of all three delay plans just in case you need them… or should I say, when you need them!

I hope you enjoyed this month’s tip and are looking forward to the fourth and final installment of this series next month. Until then, I’m teaching my next instructor certification course in Florida this November. If you’d like to learn to teach mental coaching seminars or clinics just visit or email me at [email protected]!

May 23, 2024 Eventing News

Weekend Quick Links: May 25-26

Are you following along with the action from home this weekend? Or maybe you're competing at an event and need information fast. Either way, we’ve got you covered! Check out the USEA’s Weekend Quick Links for links to information including the prize list, ride times, live scores, and more for all the events running this weekend.

May 23, 2024 News

Christina Gray Shares How ShowConnect is Shaping the Future of Event Management

Christina Gray has been working in the horse show office since the mid-90’s. What started out as her lending a helping hand at her local horse trial turned into a full-blown career after Gray graduated from college and founded her own Gray Area Events, LLC.

May 22, 2024 Eventing News

In Memoriam: Trish Gilbert (1941-2024)

The USEA is saddened to share the news of the passing of USEA Hall of Fame member Trish Gilbert at the age of 83. Gilbert was one of the first women to break the barriers facing women competing in the sport of eventing. She had considerable success in the early years of eventing amongst non-military competitors. Gilbert held many titles throughout her years of involvement in the sport; team selector, young rider chairman, event director, licensed eventing official, and more.

May 22, 2024 Instructors

The Importance of Foot Work for Eventing Horses

Why do some horses and riders always seem to find their balance and their feet when the unexpected happens? The answer may lie in the time-tested practice of gymnastic exercises. Every rider, every horse, at every level can benefit from the use of ground poles, cavalletti, and gymnastic exercises over small fences. This article is aimed at improving the balance and stability of both horse and rider. Improved balance and stability not only contribute to better show jumping and cross-country jumping, but are the foundations of more secure and safer riding.

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