For the past few months, we’ve been talking about the power of our words and how we can use those words to stop the flow of negative thoughts and replace them with more positive alternatives. When I teach clinics, I often remind riders that words are good, but they’re only as good as the actions they create...and that’s where this month's Pressure Proof tip comes in. Learning to believe in our ability to think in a positive way and take responsibility for our actions so that we can change unwanted feelings of hopeless or powerless into feelings of hopeful and powerful. This month, let’s continue talking about how we can use our words to evolve from worriers into warriors.
Did you know that your brain is capable of thinking up to 60,000 thoughts a day? That’s about 40 thoughts a minute or one thought every 1.5 seconds. But here’s the bad news. To the untrained brain, up to 70 percent of those thoughts can be considered counterproductive to our success because they contain words that lean in the direction of dread, doubt and defeat, "why mes" and "what ifs." Unfortunately, our brains are just really good at thinking really bad things—unless of course we teach ourselves to recognize and replace those unwanted thoughts with more positive and productive options.
One common form of doubtful thinking is called a pre-excuse. Remember that time when you were worried about riding poorly so you made-up a few convenient excuses just in case it happened? Nice move. Before you even made a mistake, you protected yourself from it by telling yourself (and anyone who’d listen!) that it wouldn’t be your fault! For example, saying, “I know I won’t ride well today because I have cramps and a headache” is a great way to protect yourself from the sting of a struggle that might happen. After all, if you don’t ride well it’s not your fault; it was because you had cramps and a headache! Most riders wait to make an excuse until after a mistake happens—but some riders actually figure out how to make them before they even get started!
Pre-excuses are considered part of the defense-mechanism family because they seek to protect you from possible disappointment by deflecting blame away from you and onto something else. The goal of a pre-excuse is to simply convince others that you didn’t mess-up (It was the headache and cramps' fault!). But, here comes the sad part: pre-excuses are called lose-oriented thoughts because they force your brain to focus on the possibility of losing something important (like a successful outcome) when in reality all you really lose is your belief in your ability to make it happen. For this reason, pre-excuses are defined as self-handicapping because they unintentionally lower your self-belief, which almost always lowers your ability to succeed.
The key to overcoming pre-excuses is to simply remind yourself to never complain and to never predict or protect yourself from possible problems by using pre-excuses. One of my favorite quotes is, “Good riders work until they get it right, but great riders work until they get it wrong...then figure-out how to make it right!" It’s the courage and curiosity in the face of adversity or a challenge that make great riders great—and the belief that pre-excuses have no place in their mental toolboxes.
So, this month, why not challenge yourself to change any unintentional hopeless or powerless thoughts into hopeful and powerful ones by making a list of your most common pre-excuses (FYI, you probably use the same ones each time) and then vow to never use them again. Just do your best and accept the rest!
I hope you've enjoyed this month’s Pressure Proof tip... I have plenty more interesting tips for you in the coming months! Until then, if you’d like to learn more about rider fitness including building exercise programs at the barn, stretching, warm-ups, injury prevention, and recovery please let me know. This July, I’m beginning an online rider strength and conditioning course that I think you’d love. Email me at [email protected] and I’ll send you more info!
As Tropical Storm Ophelia brought soaking rains to the region today, the Plantation Field International continued its four days of competition with CCI3*-S and CCI4*-S show jumping and cross-country for CCI1*-S, CCII2*-S, and CCI3*-S divisions.
The USEA Area IX Championships took place during two different horse trials this summer, with the Modified Championships as part of the The Event at Archer (Cheyenne, Wymoming) in August and the Preliminary, Training, Novice, and Beginner Novice Championships taking place during The Event at Skyline (Mount Pleasant, Utah) in September. In addition, Area IX offered additional championship tests at the Starter and Tadpole levels at Skyline.
The CCI4*-S division at the 2023 Plantation Field International Horse Trials kicked off today with 39 horses headed down centerline. Local rider Boyd Martin of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, topped the leaderboard riding Luke 140, owned by the Luke 140 Syndicate, and is also tied for third (28.8) with the Annie Goodwin Syndicate’s Fedarman B. Martin is also placed 23rd with Contessa, owned by the Turner family.
The United States Eventing Association, Inc. (USEA) is humbled to announce the return of long-time partner The Dutta Corporation as the “Title Sponsor of the 2023 USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) Championships,” which include the East Coast Championships at the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill in Elkton, Maryland, on Oct. 19-20 and the West Coast Championships at Twin Rivers Ranch in Paso Robles, California, on Oct. 27-28.