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].

Jan 23, 2022 Area Resources

Meet the USEA Areas: Area I

Get to know each United States Eventing Association (USEA) Areas a little better in this new series, Meet the Areas! This month’s feature is USEA Area I which is comprised of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Founded in the 1960s, Area I was the birthplace of the United States Combined Training Association (USCTA) which was founded in 1959 and would later evolve into the USEA in 2001. In 2021 just under 800 members made up the membership count in Area I.

Jan 22, 2022 Instructors

A Treasure Trove of Information: Get Another Sneak Peek at the USEA Eventing Handbook by the Levels

Trainers, riders, parents, and more are in for a real treat when the all-new USEA Eventing Handbook by the Levels is officially released. Those participating in the 2022 USEA Instructors’ Certification Program (ICP) Symposium at Barnstaple South Farm in Ocala, Florida on February 8-9 will be the first to set eyes on this all-encompassing guide that has been two years in the making.

Jan 21, 2022 Young Event Horse

Get Your Young Event Horses Ready: 2022 YEH Calendar and YEH Rule Change Updates Announced

The USEA established the Young Event Horse (YEH) program in 2004 to identify young horses that possess the talent and disposition to, with proper training, excel at the uppermost levels of the sport. While the goal of the YEH program is to identify horses that will be successful at the four- and five-star levels, horses with the potential for lower-level success are also showcased by the program.

Jan 20, 2022 Competitions

Weekend Quick Links: January 22-23

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.

Official Corporate Sponsors of the USEA

Official Outerwear of the USEA

Official Supplement Feeding System of the USEA

Official Forage of the USEA

Official Feed of the USEA

Official Saddle of the USEA

Official Joint Therapy Treatment of the USEA

Official Equine Insurance of the USEA

Official Horse Clothing of the USEA

The Official Real Estate Partner of the USEA