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].

Feb 28, 2024 Intercollegiate

Kate Boggan Champions the Spirit of Intercollegiate Eventing in Her Professional Career

Kate Boggan describes her younger self as your typical horse-crazy kid. “As soon as I saw a horse, I was obsessed,” the born and raised Texan recalled. “It was the most expensive mistake my parents ever made taking me to my first rodeo as a toddler.”

Feb 27, 2024 Education

Studs 101: Max Corcoran's Guide to Perfecting Your Stud-Kit

As most eventers know, the key to success in the show ring often lies in the preparation done beforehand. For the cross-country phase, memorizing your course and having a plan is a given, but another key factor to consider is choosing the appropriate studs for your horse. If you're new to the sport, the concept of studs might seem a little overwhelming, but former USEA President and current co-chair of the USEA Grooms Committee Max Corcoran broke down all of the basics that you need to know when putting together your stud kit for the first time or before packing up for your first show of the 2024 season.

Feb 26, 2024 Eventing News

In Memoriam: More Inspiration

The USEA is saddened to report that Canadian eventer Holly Jacks-Smither's five-star horse More Inspiration died on Feb. 19. He was 18. Bred in Canada by Display Farm, the Thoroughbred gelding (Inspired Prospect x Gentle Buck) started 28 times at the track and had four wins.

Feb 26, 2024 Eventing News

USEA Podcast #355: Looking Ahead at the Rest of 2024

We might be a few months into the new year, but there is still so much to come in the 2024 U.S. eventing season. USEA Podcast Host Nicole Brown sits down with USEA CEO Rob Burk, USEA President Lou Leslie, and EquiRatings' Managing Director and Co-Founder Diarm Byrne to make predictions, dive into team selections, and just share what they are most looking forward to this year in this week's episode of the USEA Podcast.

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