Dec 05, 2021

Pressure Proof with Daniel Stewart: The Present is a Gift

USEA/ KTB Creative Group photo

I’d like to start my Holiday Pressure Proof Tip with an excerpt from my new book Bolder Braver Brighter.

"Imagine leaning against a tree while your horse grazes happily beside you. You feel the warm sunshine and breeze on your cheek, hear the chirping of nearby birds, and smell the fragrance of the grass and wildflowers. Your horse nickers quietly and all you can think about is how lucky you are to have this horse and this sport and this life… right here, right now.

Now visualize the same scene, only this time image thinking anxiously about the horse show tomorrow. Imagine worrying about all the people who’ll be watching, the judge who’ll be judging, and the twelve-year-old rider who beat you last time. Imagine hoping your horse doesn’t refuse the first jump and you don’t forget your course like last time. Imagine dreading you’ll be the only overweight or underprepared rider there, and that you’ll mess up and let down everyone who’s counting on you.

Wow… that kind of ruined the story didn’t it? The second story contained the exact same horse, tree, and field; the only thing that changed was the story built around it. But that’s all it really was. Just a story, a piece of fiction made-up by worrying about what might happen in the future or wishing something hadn’t happened in the past. But it changed everything. It removed the joy, pleasure, and happiness from the story. It changed a feel-good novel with a happy ending (or romantic-comedy depending on your horse!) into a horror story with a dreadful ending. Even though they’re just silly stories, it’s pretty clear they’re going to have very different endings.

So, what story and which ending are you going to write? A story about worrying about what might happen in the future or feeling bad about what happened in the past - or a story about remembering that success is only a gift that the present moment can deliver."

Here are five positive-thinking tips to help keep your self-talk rooted in the present. As you’ll see, they form the acronym STORY to help you remember them!

SO WHAT instead of WHAT IF

“What if” thinking (like “what if I lose”) is basically just predicting bad things will happen in the future so stay locked in the present by adding SO to any “what if” sentence, and then add a positive follow-up sentence afterward. “what if I lose” becomes, "so what if lose, it’ll help me become more resilient."

THANK YOU instead of WHY ME

“Why-me” comments make you focus on bad things from the past, so snap back into the present by changing "why me” to “thank you." A self-directed attitude of gratitude helps your brain reinterpret a past problem into a present positive (like “thank you for the tough lesson, it’ll make me stronger”).

OH YES instead of OH NO

The words “oh no” do the same thing as “why me." They lock you in the past and rob you of the gift of living in the present. The next time you feel a little “oh no” coming, say “oh yes” instead (as in “oh yes that just happened!). Accepting past problems is the best, and fastest way to return to the present.


When feeling bad about your past or anxious about the future, avoid feeling regret by telling yourself that your training has prepared you well (that you are ready) and capable (set for more). “I’ve worked hard and have a strong team beside me, and know I’m ready and set for success."

YET instead of UPSET

Feeling upset because you couldn’t do something in the past doesn’t mean you can't do it, it just means you can’t do it yet! Adding “yet” to any “I can’t” sentence tricks your brain into focusing on the present, but also feeling excited about the future. “I can’t sit his trot” becomes “I can’t sit his trot yet!"

I hope you enjoyed my Holiday Pressure Proof Tip! Only you can write your story so make it a great one and give it a happy ending! If you’d ever like to set up a series of private phone consultations with me just visit or email me at [email protected].

Jul 03, 2022 Intercollegiate

A Day in the Life with USEA Intercollegiate Member Hannah Warner

Hannah Warner wears many hats: student at the University of Kentucky, UK Eventing Team President, competitor, and head groom for Alexa Ehlers. Fitting in all of her roles and responsibilities into her day-to-day life can be a challenge, but it is a challenge that Warner finds rewarding. The college senior is working towards a business degree through UK's online business program, so Warner is able to get creative with her schedule to pursue all of her academic and eventing related goals.

Jul 02, 2022 Area Championships

Twelve Area III Champions Crowned at 2022 Area Championships

The Area III Championships kicked off the 2022 USEA Area Championship season June 24-26 at the Stable View Summer H.T. in Aiken, South Carolina. Offering 12 different championship divisions from Intermediate to Beginner Novice, the championships were highly contested as riders from all across Area III put in a gallant effort in hopes of being deemed division champion. The USEA caught up with many of the individual champions to look back on their performances in Aiken that helped them bring home the top prize.

Jul 01, 2022 Young Riders

USEA Announces Athletes for the 2022 Emerging Athlete 21 Program

The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is pleased to announce the athletes selected for the 2022 USEA Emerging Athlete 21 (EA21) Program. USEA Young Rider program members aged 21 and under are eligible for the program, which aims to creates a pipeline for potential U.S. team riders by identifying and developing young talent, improving horsemanship and riding skills, and training and improving skills and consistency.

Jul 01, 2022 AEC

Countdown to AEC: 2 Months Away! Tentative Competition, Entertainment Schedules, & More!

The USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds are just two months away. The AEC moves to the mountains this year, taking place at Rebecca Farm in Kalispell, Montana across a long Labor Day weekend.

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