By Sarah E Coleman
Eager participants were greeted with enthusiasm during Daniel Stewart’seducational clinic at the MSEDA Annual Meeting held at the Four Point by Sheraton. Starting Saturday morning, and continuing through the afternoon, attendees were taught a plethora of helpful hints to manage their horse-show nerves.
A successful international trainer and instructor for over 25 years with a degree in Sport Science and a host of World Championships, World Equestrian Games and Olympics competitors on his resume, Stewart believes that one of the easiest ways to be a successful rider is to think positively. Throughout the day, he incorporated the power of positive thinking into everything he taught, and imparted ways to stay positive in the heat of the moment.
Some of these ideas included:
Humans focus on the “bad” because of natural, caveman instincts to protect ourselves. Because of the way humans operate, we can only focus on one thing at time, good or bad--we should focus on the good.
- Mental multi-tasking doesn't work.
- Being focused can help keep you in the ring when you get hit by "the duck,” which is anything that takes your greatness away. This “duck” could be your horse, your lack of confidence or anything that makes you lose your focus while competing.
- Pressure and stress make us rush and makes us forgetful.
- Horseback riding is error-based learning; mistakes are good and lead to growth and learning. Riders need to learn mistakablility: The ability to make a mistake and realize that it is beneficial and we learn something. “Don't blame mistakes away,” says Stewart. The best mistakes are the ones that we learn and grow from. We only grow outside of the comfort zone.
- All riders need a positive affirmation sentence to train ourselves. Even better, make it a positive affirmation song. A positive affirmation song is simply music that makes you happy, which in turn will make you more optimistic. Everyone needs an “athletic anthem.”(One example is Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb.”)
- All riders should also create an athletic acronym in addition to their anthem. This are cue words with five or fewer letters that form one sentence. For example, BIG (breathing is good) BEST (balance every single transition) SANDY (smile and never doubt yourself) is an acronym that will help a rider remember specifically what it is she should do at different points in her ride. Acronyms fire the memory center of the brain.
- Science proves that you are 34 percent better at a task when you are happy.
- Never ask of your horse what you are not willing to do yourself.