No one’s perfect (nope, not you either) so it’s just a matter of time before you make a mistake, mess up or miss an opportunity. There’ll come a time when you do everything right but it’ll still go wrong, or a time when you do your very best but it won’t be good enough. Regardless of the mistake, mess-up, or missed opportunity you’ll always be able to make up and move on as long as you’re mindful of the words you’re using to describe that experience . . . and this is where verbal erasers come in.
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!
If you’re like most people there’s a good chance you made a New Year's resolution this month, and if you’re like most there’s a really good chance you’re going to have a hard time hanging onto it past the beginning of February!
Daniel Stewart is coming to Area III, January 22-23, 2022! Registration closes January 11, 2022.
Worrying about losing to a rider, or being beaten by another, is a common mistake many riders make. Wondering if you’re going to beat someone or be beaten by someone else is just as common. Together this kind of worrying and wondering is called the opponent effect and is one of the most obvious - and overwhelming - causes of show jitters and performance anxiety.
The only sure thing about riding is that sooner or later you’ll succeed- and sooner or later you’ll fail. Like it or not, the reality of a sport as complex and challenging as ours is that doing everything right doesn’t always guarantee things will turn out that way. You’ll present your horse the perfect fence with the perfect approach and perfect quality canter, all to have it go south because of a plastic bag in the corner! Unfortunately, you’ve picked the wrong sport if you wanted everything to go right all the time.
We all strive for greatness. Regardless of your age, level or discipline; your horse and sport are just too important for you to give anything less than your best. But what happens when mistakes or missed opportunities interfere with your ability to achieve that greatness? What happens when disappointments make you mess-up or feel let-down? Well, for most riders the answer is simple. Regret.
Chances are pretty high that you’ve experienced show-jitters before. Maybe it was before an important competition, a clinic with an unknown clinician, your first group lesson, or riding in front of a friend or family member for the first time. Regardless of the situation, you’ll probably agree that performance anxiety is one thing you’d rather avoid.
Our sport is brilliant and epic and unlike any other. . . But at times, it can feel more pressure-packed than all other sports combined. When your horse’s unpredictable nature combines with high expectations and the endless physical and mental demands of riding, it's only natural to feel a bit overwhelmed from time to time.
In a way, it’s kind of like weird “pressure” math:
Unpredictability + Expectations + Physical and Mental demands = Pressure.
To succeed in riding your focus needs to be as strong as your leg and seat. Luckily your brain works in a unique way called selective attention that allows you to focus on the many important aspects of the ride. From balancing your corners to seeing your distances and remembering your course; your brain knows what’s important and directs your attention towards them. . . That is until your brain gets distracted by things like fears, failures, and freaking out, in which case it directs your attention to them instead! In the end, it’s up to you to select what you’re going to pay attention to. . . The good or the bad, the past or the future, the mistake or the lesson it just taught you. The good or the evil!
I’ve said this before and I’ll keep saying it because it’ll keep happening: sometimes you’ll do everything right but it’ll still go wrong! You’ll ride balanced, make your changes, see your distances, and clear all your fences, only to have your horse throw a shoe causing him to trip and spook at a butterfly causing you to fall!