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].

Jun 02, 2023 News

Three California Counties Affected by Vesicular Stomatitis Outbreak

The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) continues to monitor the outbreak of Vesicular Stomatitis (VS) in California. Currently, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has confirmed that there are three counties—San Diego, San Bernardino, and Riverside—where confirmed or suspected cases of VS have been identified.

Jun 02, 2023 News

New 6- and 7-Year-Old Developing Horse Championships Announced

The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) and United States Eventing Association (USEA) are pleased to announce the dates and location of the 2023 USEF/USEA Eventing Developing Horse National Championships for 6- and 7-year-olds.

The Championships, which will include a CCI2*-S for 6-year-olds and a CCI3*-S for 7-year-olds, will take place at the Stable View Oktoberfest Horse Trials in Aiken, South Carolina, from Sept. 29-Oct. 1, 2023.

Jun 02, 2023 Eventing News

USEF Announces 2023 Eventing Elite and Pre-Elite Program Lists Updates

The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) is pleased to announce updates to the 2023 Eventing Elite and Pre-Elite Program Lists. The programs are part of the U.S. Eventing Pathway, which is focused on developing combinations to deliver sustainable success in team competition at the championship level.

Jun 01, 2023

Now On Course: An Unlikely Mustang Gave Weber the Confidence She Needed

Four years ago, Megan Weber was feeling discouraged about her event horse who didn’t seem to want to do the sport. She’d made the decision to find a new horse but found she was struggling to connect to the several she’d tried.

She reached out to a friend who had experience with adopting mustangs, and the idea of an untouched, green horse sounded like a fun idea.

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