Feb 18, 2022

Pressure Proof with Daniel Stewart: Who, What, When, Where, Why

USEA/ KTB Creative Group photo

Curiosity and inquisitiveness are signs of resilience because mentally tough riders continually seek answers to questions that might otherwise bother them. They continually ask the kind of questions that help them to replicate successful efforts; while also asking the kind of questions that help them to learn from, and avoid replicating unsuccessful ones. These self-directed questions become one of their greatest assets because they provide them with the valuable feedback needed to grow from every experienced, both good and bad. Without these questions, much of the learning that learning opportunities can deliver are simply left undelivered. In the world of sports psychology, it’s kind of like the opposite of Amazon Prime!

Strangely, curiosity and inquisitiveness can also be considered a sign of mental frailty or a sign of doubt and despair. But how can that be? How can one tool yield two such different outcomes when used by two different riders? How can one tool be considered both good and evil at the same time? Well, the answer doesn’t lie in the curiosity and inquisitiveness itself, but in the different kinds of questions the different kinds of riders ask.

You see, some questions actually increase the likelihood of creating positive answers (leading to learning) while others increase the likelihood of creating negative answers (leading to doubt or despair). The trick to figuring out which leading questions you tend to ask is to simply pay attention to the word you select to start your question because the first word of any question almost always dictates whether the response you’ll get will be helpful or hurtful!

Before I give you a few tips on framing your questions, let me first tell you how your brain handles self-directed questions. It starts by listening to your questions and then it seeks out appropriate answers for them. For example, “what can I do to relax” is often answered by, “take a few deep breaths.” But what happens when you start your question with the word why instead of what? “Why can’t I relax” might just be answered by, “because I’m so afraid of losing!” See how the first question led to a productive answer, but the second led to a destructive one? It’s all in how you ask your questions because the kind of questions you ask ultimately lead to the kind of answers you’ll get!

Here are a few tricks to ensure your questions lead to the best answers:

• Start questions with what because they help direct your attention towards solutions. For example: “What did I learn from the loss?” might be answered, “I’ll keep my eyes up next time.”

• Avoid starting questions with why because they tend to direct your answers towards a problem. For example: “Why did I lose?” might be answered, “Because everyone’s better than you!”

• Avoid starting questions with when because they tend to direct your answers towards an unknown. For example: “When will I learn to canter?” might be answered, “Who knows, as soon as I stop being a wimp!”

• Limit how often you start your questions with who because it distracts you from you. For example: “Who’s going to win today” might be answered, “Probably not me.”

As you can see, the kind of answer you get is often determined by the kind of questions you ask. Set yourself up for success by spending most of your time thinking in terms of “what you can do” rather than “why something happened”, “when something will happen”, or “who else it will happen too!"

I hope you enjoyed this month's Pressure Proof tip and that I’ll get the chance to teach you in my upcoming spring and summer clinic tours. If you’re a visual learner and would like to watch five really upbeat and educational mental coaching lectures just click here.

May 27, 2023 Eventing News

Auburn Leads, USC Aiken in the Hunt After Cross-Country at the 2023 USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championship

Chants of “War Eagle” were heard from end to end of the White Oak cross-country course as the overnight leaders and defending champions from Auburn University tore between the red and white flags Saturday to remain atop the leaderboard of the 2023 Intercollegiate Eventing Championship at the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC).

May 27, 2023 News

Horse Owners Urged to Participate in Economic Impact Study for the Equine Industry

The last three years have been a time of great change throughout the country for homes, businesses and industries. Rising costs of living, shrinking of assistance and changes in demographics have affected so much of our world, and that includes the equine industry. However, not all of the changes are easy to identify. This is why the American Horse Council (AHC), together with the U.S. Equestrian Federation, has kicked off what could be one of the biggest studies in more than 50 years with the 2023 National Economic Impact Study (EIS) for the equine industry.

May 26, 2023 Intercollegiate

Tigers on Top: Auburn University Leads 2023 USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championship After Dressage

Twenty-three teams from 13 colleges and universities have traveled far and wide for the seventh annual USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championship held at the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) in Mill Spring, North Carolina.

May 26, 2023 About Us

Meet the USEA Staff: Programs, Partnerships, & Marketing

If you have been involved at a higher level with the USEA, you probably recognize the names of the two ladies that spearhead all of the efforts of the USEA’s Programs, Partnerships, and Marketing department: Kate Lokey, Director of Programs and Marketing, and Kaleigh Collett, Marketing Coordinator, but a new member of this team has also joined the USEA staff in Heather Johnson, Programs and Inventory Assistant. If you have considered advertising with the USEA or are involved in the USEA’s Young Event Horse, Emerging Athletes U21, New Event Horse, Adult Riders, Young Riders, Classic Series, or Grooms programs, you probably have or most likely will interact with one of these staff members.

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