Jun 30, 2022

Pressure Proof with Daniel Stewart: The Quickie Plan

USEA/ KTB Creative Group photo

Last month we began a four-part series on mental preparation and the many kinds of pre-ride routines you can perform to control your emotions so they don’t take control of you. If you recall, the purpose of these routines is to give your brain the perception of predictability and control because as soon as your brain loses these it senses threat and stress which weakens your confidence and strengthens your jitters and fears.

We began last month by discussing the mental preparation plan best used when everything goes according to plan. Easy peasy, no last-minute pulled shoes or hauling issues. But what happens when the shoes go flying and you have to back up the trailer when you can barely drive the darn thing forward? What happens when you spill coffee on your clean breeches or your horse gets dirty right before your class is called? What happens when you can’t find your boot pulls, lose your helmet, and your mind? It’s during these times that you’re going to need to modify your Plan A and come up with another that’s going to take a whole lot less time, but still delivers the same calmness and confidence your brain needs… and that’s where the quickie plan comes in. This is the plan you’re going to use when you feel rushed. You’re in trouble and out of time.

As you can imagine this plan is going to have to be pretty quick. You no longer have the time to listen to the motivational playlist or do a few yoga poses from the Plan A routine you built last month. You might only have a minute or two to gain or regain control of your emotions, but with a quickie plan in place, that might be all the time you need.

The key to this plan is a technique called time-batching which is essentially performing several different tasks (batching) at the same time. You might not have time to perform them all, but if you can squeeze them into the same few seconds or minutes you’ll find you're more than capable of accomplishing them all. Two examples of time-batching are discussing strategy with your trainer while cleaning your horse’s stall and talking to the farrier while cleaning your tack. You might not have the time to do both, but if you batch them together you’ll improve the chance of getting them done. In the end, the key to time-batching comes down to the word while - you do this while doing that, instead of doing this and then doing that.

So what kind of positive and empowering tasks can you batch together when running late or your class is called early? What kinds of tasks can you batch together to help you chill out when you’re out of time? What kinds of tasks can you batch together when you want to turn the feeling of hopelessness into hopefulness? Well, below is a short list of ideas. When used separately they’ll take too much time, but if you can batch them together you'll have no trouble getting out of trouble!

  • Discuss strategy with your trainer while tacking-up while thanking them (gratitude is a great morale booster!)
  • Take a deep breath while repeating a motivating mantra while standing tall in a power posture (think superman or wonder woman)
  • Visualize your course while walking to the arena while humming a few bars to a calming song while telling yourself you’re excited (instead of nervous).
  • Do a quick head-to-toe relaxation while walking to the in-gate while complimenting an opponent (kindness is another great morale booster!)
  • Hug your horse while saying, “We got this” while smiling while taking another few deep breaths.

It’s clear that these are all really good ideas, but it’s also clear that you probably won’t have time to do them all unless they’re batched together. One of my favorite quotes has always been, “When you get to the end of your rope tie a note and hang on” and that is exactly what this quickie plan is all about. Always do your best, but when your best isn’t enough to get you there on time… batching a few calming tasks together might be all that's needed to help you chill out, even when you’re out of time.

I hope you enjoyed this month’s tip and are looking forward to the next two. Until then, I’m teaching my first post-Covid instructor certification course next November in Naples FL. If you’d like to join my coaching team and begin teaching Pressure Proof lessons, seminars or clinics just email me at [email protected] and I’ll send you more info!

Sep 28, 2023 Awards

Nominations for 2023 USEA Appreciation Awards Now Open through October 29

The United States Eventing Association (USEA) has opened nominations for the annual appreciation awards through Oct. 29. This is an opportunity for the sport to recognize those horses and riders who excelled in eventing throughout the year. It is also an opportunity to recognize and honor the very important people who have served the sport tirelessly both in a non-riding capacity and riding capacity during their golden years.

Sep 28, 2023 Interscholastic

Stable View is Ramping Up for the 2024 Intercollegiate & IEL Championships

Anticipation for the 2024 USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championship and inaugural USEA Interscholastic Eventing League (IEL) Championship is growing, and the host venue, Stable View, is up for the task of making both events an unforgettable experience for all involved. For the first time, the Intercollegiate and IEL program championships will be hosted on the same weekend at the Stable View H.T. in Aiken, South Carolina, on May 4-5, 2024, creating greater unity between the programs and demonstrating a clear pipeline of participation in the sport from grade school through college and beyond.

Sep 27, 2023 Rules

New Eventing Rule Changes Going into Effect October 1, 2023

The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) has made five rule changes which will go into effect October 1, 2023. Familiarize yourself with these rule changes below to make sure you are in compliance before heading out for your next event.

Sep 27, 2023 Competitions

Fast Facts: 2023 USEF/USEA Developing Horse Eventing National Championships

With the goal of creating a pathway for young horses in the U.S. and participants of the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) Program, earlier this year the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) and USEA joined forces to launch the USEF/USEA Developing Horse Eventing National Championships for 6- and 7-year-olds.

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