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Posts Tagged ‘sport psychology’

 

fitandfocusedin52-horseandriderbooks

In January, it always feels like everyone is at the gym or on a cleanse or giving up sugar and alcohol in order to meet one resolution or another. For those of you interested in improving your inside as much as your outside, check out these recommendations for learning to tell the difference between a good mistake and a bad mistake from Coach Daniel Stewart’s book FIT & FOCUSED IN 52:

No one’s perfect (nope, not you either) so it’s just a matter of time before you’re going to mess up or throw your horse under the bus. Saying sorry to your horse, trainer, opponent, friend, or family member while riding—called an athletic apology—is a necessary stage in learning from mistakes and can be wonderfully empowering because it has an amazing way of shifting your focus away from blame and disappointment, to self-respect and confidence.

The difference between a good mistake and a bad mistake is that you own and learn from the good ones. Teach yourself to turn bad mistakes (the ones you feel bad about or try blaming away) into good ones by:

(1) saying you’re sorry,

(2) owning it, and

(3) letting yourself off the hook by committing to be better.

It might sound something like this:

(1) “I’m sorry.”

(2) “It was totally my fault.”

(3) “I promise to be on time in the future so it doesn’t happen again.”

howtoshrinkthesizeofyourbut-horseandriderbooksOwning your mistakes and vowing to be better as a result of them is one of the quickest ways to go from being a good rider to a great one. You should know, however, that not all athletic apologies are created equal. When making yours, always avoid using the word “but” because it has the nasty habit of trying to justify a mistake or erase blame. For this reason, the word but is called a verbal eraser. For example, “I’m sorry, but you really made me mad.”

It’s not all about you!

Athletic apologies should also never contain “you” statements because they unintentionally attempt to shift the blame from you to someone else. When you apologize by saying something like, “I’m sorry you got mad,” you place the blame on that person instead of owning it yourself.

Here’s a little homework: 

Think about a recent mistake you’ve made involving your horse, trainer, friend, or family member, and then make a three-part athletic apology for them. Remember, you’re not perfect, so go on and prove that you have the courage to admit it. 

fit&focusedin52-2-horseandriderbooks

fit & focused in 52-horseandriderbooksFIT & FOCUSED IN 52 is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information or to order.

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont. 

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ribbonsaudiobookavailablenow-horseanriderbooks

TSB is proud to release our first audiobook with one of our original bestselling authors: IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE RIBBONS, written and read by renowned rider, coach, and motivational speaker Jane Savoie, is now available from the TSB online bookstore!

We know horse people lead busy lives, often juggling work, family, and riding, so we want to make it easy to listen to some of our top authors’ best advice while commuting, or during your morning walk, or while sweeping the barn aisle or raking the arena track. There’s no better place to start than with Jane Savoie’s contagious enthusiasm, which couldn’t be better highlighted than in an audiobook read by Jane herself.

IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE RIBBONS was the followup to Jane’s breakout bestseller THAT WINNING FEELING!the first book ever to recognize the importance of training the mind and shaping attitude in order to achieve higher levels of riding skill. In RIBBONS, Jane shares the tools and ideas for self-improvement that she has used, not only to help herself deal with challenges, but her students—who range from Olympic contenders to intermediate riders—as well. Full of shining examples of the success of her methods of dealing with riding’s—and life’s—challenges, this book is essential for anyone who is passionate about horses but may be struggling, at some level or other, with negative emotions and frustration from slow development of riding skills.

Want to know how much Jane’s techniques can help you in both riding and life? While recording her audiobook, Jane was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a rare blood cancer. Here, in her own words (the introduction she reads at the beginning of the RIBBONS audiobook), she shares how pieces of her book gave her tools she could use in her day-to-day struggle to combat her illness:

***

Sometimes it is hard to believe that my first book about riding and sport psychology—THAT WINNING FEELING!—was published over a quarter of a century ago. Its follow-up was this book: IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE RIBBONS. Time has indeed flown, as they say it should when you’re having fun.

And I have, for the most part, been having fun! In addition to teaching and mentoring riders through my clinics and online courses, I discovered ballroom dancing…a pursuit that demands the same kind of relentless attention to detail and patience in the mundane practice of basics as dressage. The two “Ds”—dressage and dancing—have over time given me what my mind and body crave most: achievable short- and long-term goals, small successes to be celebrated every day, and the chance to connect with a skilled and motivated partner, as well as evolve with that partner over time.

But then, in 2015, just as I had begun recording the audio version of this book, I found out I have multiple myeloma, a rare blood cancer. 

My life as I knew it went on hold as I spent the winter going through a round of high-dose chemotherapy, and I actually finished recording the IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE RIBBONS audiobook you are about to listen to while I was in the hospital, recovering from a stem cell transplant.

It is so easy to lose yourself in the physically excruciating process of battling back from illness or injury. I realized, as I forced myself to walk, IV rattling beside me, the 40 laps around the nurse’s station that would mean I’d gone a mile, that it was techniques I talk about in this book—those habits formed over a lifetime—that got me out of bed and placing one foot in front of the other, determined to get strong enough to go home.

My positive self-talk mantras became, “I’m going to breeze through this transplant,” and “I’m as tough as nails.” I desperately craved activity, but was often too tired to do more than my laps of the nurse’s station, so I filled that void within by making myself busy with visualization. I looked up pictures of myeloma cells, and when I discovered they looked like sunny-side up eggs, I reveled in the hours I could spend mentally smashing yolk after yolk. The “As If” Principle became my go-to …when I was scared, I acted as ifI was brave. When I felt depressed, I acted as ifI was bursting with optimism. The chemistry of fake emotion is the same as the chemistry of real emotion, so I changed my physiology on my bad days—smiling at nurses and doctors when they greeted me, replying, “I’m great!” when they asked how I was feeling.

That doesn’t mean I wasn’t discouraged when my blood counts didn’t improve on a particular day, but I always remembered what I wrote in this book about resilience, and the importance of being able to bounce back in the face of challenges—because that is what makes sure you stay in the game.

My wish for you is to not only learn how the tools in the chapters ahead can better your riding and improve your ability to meet your equestrian goals, but also that you find yourself, like me, better equipped to handle the kinds of trials, small and large, that prove themselves the bumps in the roads we travel.

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Jane Savoie’s strategies can help you chart your course to success. Art by Beth Preston from It’s Not Just About the Ribbons.

 

The IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE RIBBONS audiobook is available now from the TSB online bookstore.

CLICK HERE for more information or to order.

Want to read more about Jane Savoie’s dancing career? CLICK HERE

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont. 

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TheHowComeTrick-horseandriderbooks

I don’t know about you, but we can always use a trick or two to get our horse lives (and the rest of our lives) in order. That means get our wheels on straight and our head in the game (and the dishes done, maybe, too, to boot). Lucky for us, we have equestrian sport psychology expert Coach Daniel Stewart on call (a perk in horse book publishing) to provide all kinds of rev-your-engines-type advice. Here’s one we love from his new book FIT & FOCUSED IN 52:

You have good intentions in life, but sometimes life has a crazy way of getting in the way of your good intentions. When things like school, work, family, and a ridiculously short 24-hour day come in between you and your good intentions, it’s time for the “how come” trick.
 
If you’re like most riders, you have a few meaningful tasks you’ve been meaning to do for a while but haven’t yet gotten around to. They can be anything from cleaning your barn or house (really, when was the last time you saw the floor?) to speaking to your trainer about something that’s been worrying you. When you find the task, simply ask yourself, “How come I haven’t done it yet?” Be honest with your answer because it’ll help create the plan to finally achieve it. For example, “How come I haven’t learned to jump yet?” leads to the answer, “Because I don’t have a jump trainer, jump tack, or a jumper.” Armed with this information you can start looking for a trainer in your area with school horses and tack. Yay—the answer to your question is the answer to your problem!
 
FYI
The following “how come” questions don’t qualify for this technique:
 
– How come the word abbreviation is so long?
 
– How come the word phonetic isn’t spelled the way it sounds?
 
– How come the time of day with the slowest traffic is called rush hour?
 
– How come shipments go in cars and cargo goes in ships?
 
– How come the third hand on a watch is called the second hand?
 
Riding Focus Homework
This coming week, think of something related to your riding you’ve been putting off, and ask yourself how come you haven’t done it yet. Think about it for a while and write down your honest answers.

Then, get out of that chair and go do it!

Fit & Focused in 52_2FIT & FOCUSED IN 52 is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information or to order.

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont. 

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Brain-Training-Tip-21-horseandriderbooks

“We humans like to view ourselves as rational creatures who make reasoned, logical decisions and choices,” says Andrea Waldo in her bestselling book BRAIN TRAINING FOR RIDERS. A former psychotherapist who now focuses on her training business and riding students, Waldo tells it how it is when it comes to managing our brain and stress.

“Ideally, we want our choices to support our long-term goals,” she explains. “But as much as we know that an apple is better than a cookie and that paying the electric bill is more important than the tack shop’s clearance sale, our Lizard Brain couldn’t care less about ‘long-term health’ or ‘financial stability.’ It thinks only about the immediate moment, and it cares about only one thing in this moment: survival.

“Winning the evolution game is about surviving long enough to reproduce and pass on your DNA to the next generation. Up until very recently, humans lived in an environment with lethal threats all around: saber-toothed tigers, poisonous snakes, enemy tribes. Our ancestors that survived long enough to reproduce didn’t survive because they avoided fast food and gluten and balanced their checkbooks every week; they survived because their brains developed a mechanism to get them out of danger as fast as possible. This mechanism is known as the Fight-or-Flight Response (FOFR). Here’s how it works: Imagine you’re grooming your horse and you’re leaning over to brush mud off his belly. Suddenly he kicks up at a fly and you jump out of the way just in time to avoid being kicked yourself. You realize he came dangerously close to nailing you right in the head! Now imagine how you feel: your stomach is quivering, your heart is pounding, your hands are shaking a little, and every muscle is tense. You’ve just been protected by your FOFR.

“When your brain perceives a threat in the environment, the amygdala signals the brain to engage the FOFR. A surge of stress hormones, primarily adrenaline and cortisol, are released into your bloodstream and trigger a rapid series of physiological changes. Your heart beats faster to get more blood to the major muscle groups in your arms and legs, which tense up to prepare to fight or run. You breathe faster to get more oxygen into your bloodstream. You start to perspire. Blood is channeled away from your extremities and momentarily unnecessary organs such as your stomach. This is why you may get cold hands and butterflies in your stomach when you’re nervous, and why you have such a hard time relaxing your muscles enough to deepen your seat and stay tall in the saddle. An important point to note here is that the FOFR can activate when it perceives any threat. It responds whether that threat is physical, such as a kick from a horse, or psychological, such as the worry that you’ll forget your reining pattern. It also gets activated whether the perceived threat is real or imagined. This is why you can feel jittery just picturing your horse bucking you off.

60465_lizard-face“The Lizard Brain can’t tell the difference between something you imagine vividly and something that’s actually happening. On the positive side, you can feel great when you imagine something wonderful; on the down side, you can panic your Lizard Brain by picturing something terrible happening. You can also make your Lizard Brain angry (the fight in Fight or Flight) by imagining a conflict. (Ever re-live an argument with your significant other in your mind and find yourself angry all over again? Hello, Lizard Brain!) One more interesting thing happens during the FOFR. The prefrontal cortex— the Rational Brain that thinks things through logically—shuts down. It’s never even consulted in the Fight-or-Flight process. It’s as if you were flying over southern California at night, and all of a sudden, Los Angeles went totally dark. The FOFR flips a switch, and off goes your Rational Brain. At first glance, this may seem like an evolutionary design flaw. Why on earth would you want your logical thinking capacity disconnected? However, it makes sense when you look at it from a survival perspective: Imagine you’re a caveman a hundred thousand years ago. One morning, you stroll out of your cave and spy a saber-toothed tiger stalking in the bushes. Your Rational prefrontal cortex might say something like this: ‘Oh, hey, a tiger. Or is it a lion? Nope, it has saber teeth, definitely a tiger. What should I do? I could hit it with my club—no, that’s in the cave. I could climb that tree or hide behind that rock, but it might find me. I guess I’d better run—’ CHOMP! By now, the tiger has finished his delightful lunch of cave-human. In life-or-death situations, reasoning and logic simply take too much time. Instead, the amygdala hollers, ‘TIGER! RUN!’ and you live to see another day.

Brain Train for Riders Final

Click to Order

“This, dear rider, is why you can’t think straight when you’re extremely nervous: your amygdala has hijacked your Rational Brain. You’re not stupid or inept; you’ve just allowed your Lizard Brain to run the show. It thinks you’re being attacked by a tiger, so it tries to get you to safety.”

You can find out how to tame your Lizard Brain in Waldo’s BRAIN TRAINING FOR RIDERS, available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information.

 

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont. 

 

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CoachDanielStewart-horseandriderbooks

Coach Daniel Stewart is an enthusiastic force of positivity that makes you smile even when you’re in the middle of getting your riding butt kicked into gear. His mental and physical training techniques have helped boost equestrians from mediocre to masterful all over the globe. At TSB, we’ve been lucky to work with Coach Stewart on three books over the many years we’ve now known him, including his newest FIT & FOCUSED IN 52. Recently, we caught up with him at an airport in between flights to clinics, and he shared a little about his new book, as well as his feelings about clowns, gray hair, and ice cream.

TSB: Your new book FIT & FOCUSED IN 52 was published in December. It provides a calendar of tips for the rider’s mind and body, one each for every week of the year. What was your inspiration behind this concept and how do you think pairing fitness and focus can benefit riders?

CDS: The inspiration behind creating FF52 was my belief that success in riding—like in all sports—only occurs when we become both physically and mentally strong; when we match a strong leg and seat with strong focus and confidence. I’ve always thought that riding was a sport of distances (like 3-foot fences and 12-foot strides) but perhaps the most important distances of all are the 5 feet below our ears… and the 5 inches between them!

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Coach Stewart with Olympian Boyd Martin, who says, “Everyone can benefit from becoming more confident, focused, and fit…and Daniel’s equestrian sport psychology and fitness programs are a great way to do it!”

TSB: You have been leading a number of high-quality “equestrian athlete camps” around the country. What do you feel these intensive settings bring to a rider’s ability to improve, compete, and succeed?

CDS: My four-day equestrian athlete camps held at the US Olympic Training Center are designed to give developing and young riders access to the same quality of instruction, coaching, and facilities as our high-performing teams receive. While I initially created these camps to help riders improve their success by teaching them how to improve their physical and mental fitness, I was delighted to find out that the riders were also creating amazing camaraderie with their newfound teammates—some of which appears like it might last a lifetime! 

TSB: You and your family and neighborhood were hit hard by Hurricane Irma in September. What is one lesson you learned from the experience, both during the storm and in its aftermath?

CDS: Believe it or not, I actually learned more from before the hurricane hit than I learned from the storm itself! In the days before Irma hit my home in Naples, Florida, my neighbors and I began knocking on doors to see if we could help others in any way. While were greeted with thanks and appreciation, the majority of homeowners actually asked if they could join our “team,” so we all began knocking on even more doors! Before Irma even hit, we had created an amazing community of neighbors working through the fantastic heat and humidity to install hurricane shutters, empty refrigerators, remove potted plants, and complete other such tasks that would help ensure our community was impacted as little as possible. In the end learned that living through something like Irma can really bring a huge sense of community…to a community!

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The scene after Irma at Coach Stewart’s home.

TSB: If you were trapped on a desert island with a horse and a book, what breed of horse would it be and which book would you choose?

CDS: I suppose I’d want to bring along a Criollo horse because I understand that history has shown that they can be great swimmers. I recall reading a story about this breed of horse being thrown off of ships in the middle of the ocean (to try and save the ships from sinking) and many of the horses were able to swim great distances to the shores of islands. If I’m getting stuck on an island, I want to have a horse who can get me out of there. As for the book…I’d bring my own! (I wrote it but I haven’t actually had time to sit down and really read the finished copy yet!)

TSB: If you could do one thing on horseback that you haven’t yet done, what would it be?

CDS: I’ve trekked through Ireland, but I never had the chance to trek from one bed-and-breakfast to another. I’ve heard about these kind of trips and would love to try one!

TSB: What is the quality you most like in a friend?

CDS: While attributes like loyalty are really important to me, the one quality I look for most in a friend is kindness—kindness to others, to their friends and family, to strangers, and just as importantly, to themselves! I feel that kindness is the root of most everything that is good. Without kindness, for example, all other qualities (such as loyalty) are really going to struggle.

TSB: What is the quality you most like in a horse?

CDS: The quality I love most in a horse is when I know that they’re giving me 100 percent. It’s not important that their 100 percent be enough to succeed at everything they do… I just love knowing that they’re willing and able to give everything they can at everything they do.

TSB: What is your greatest fear?

CDS: Clowns. Mimes and clowns. My children have always known this… that’s why they’d always color pictures of clowns in elementary school art class and bring them home for me…

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We’re with you, Coach Stewart…super-scary!

TSB: What is your greatest extravagance?

CDS: I’m definitely not a very extravagant guy. I drive a tiny car, only own one suit (the one I was married in), and count my pennies… but I did splurge on a nice, safe home for my family. Living in Florida means that we always have lots of friends and family spending vacation with us, so I insisted that we buy a home that had at least one guest room (two if you count my office when I get kicked out of it.)

TSB: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

CDS: I suppose I could say something like, “I’d like less gray hair or more money to travel the world,” but in reality I wouldn’t change a thing about myself. I love my wife, my life, and my family, and I love my friends and my career. If given the chance, I actually wouldn’t change a thing… it would just be greedy to ask for anything more than what I already have!

TSB: What’s in your refrigerator at all times?

DS: Greek yogurt, berries, peanut butter, eggs, guacamole, olives, ice cream (my weakness!) and now some weird odor that we can’t get rid of because Hurricane Irma cut electricity to our fridge or a week…

TSB: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

CDS: Exercising with my children, date night movies with my wife… and ice cream.

TSB: If you could have a conversation with one famous person, alive or dead, who would it be?

CDS: Instead of a famous person, I’d actually prefer to have a conversation with my all-time favorite horse, Gem Twist, so that I could ask him, “Why did you always buck so much between fences?”

Gem Twist from Unrelenting-horseandriderbooks

Greg Best on Gem Twist at the Seoul Olympics, 1988. Photo by PhelpsSports from UNRELENTING by George H. Morris. 

TSB: What is your motto?

CDS: (1) Be happy in your happy place. (2) Do what you love and love what you do. (3) Everything will be alright in the end; if it’s not alright, then it’s not the end.

(You really think I only have one favorite motto? You know I could go on for days!)

 

Coach Daniel Stewart’s new book FIT & FOCUSED IN 52 is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information.

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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showingmindsetFB

Ah, show day! The delightful mix of butterflies and caffeine churning within as you rise with the sun. The bustling activity on the grounds as horses are fed, walked, and bathed. The knowledge that at some point in the very near future, you will stand before the masses and be judged

Sure, there are any number of cool cucumbers who can compete without missing a beat, but the majority of us struggle to some degree with show nerves and performance anxiety. In his book PRESSURE PROOF YOUR RIDING, renowned sport psychology expert Coach Daniel Stewart explains that one of the keys to success in this arena is to develop a strong showing mindset.

“The showing mindset is a subconscious skill that helps you avoid over-thinking, overreacting, and overanalyzing during competition,” says Coach Stewart. “The time for all that has passed; the time for self-analysis and criticism is gone; and the time for trust has arrived. Studies have shown that no appreciable learning of a skill—mechanical or technical—takes place on show day. This only happens at home during your lessons. So trying to improve while showing is an ineffective use of your time. As soon as you drive into the venue’s parking lot or exit the warm-up arena, you need to confidently transition from your schooling mindset, to your showing mindset, and just trust that all the self-critiques, analysis, and feedback from your lessons have prepared you well for the demands of the next few minutes.

“Showing with a schooling mindset also creates the impression that the harder you try, the harder it gets. For example, the more a jumper tries to see the distance to her next fence the harder it becomes (the dreaded ‘deer-in-the-headlights’ syndrome), and the harder a dressage rider tries to sit up perfectly straight, the more tense she becomes. When you show, no matter the discipline, it just happens too fast; you don’t have the time to analyze the height of your hands, the placement of your leg, or the position of your hips. You must turn off your conscious thoughts and allow your subconscious to take over. You’re on autopilot, trusting your training, and just letting it happen. In riding, this is often called riding freely, and it is here that you learn to trust, not train.”

Coach Stewart says that in order to ride well and compete at your best your mental approach to showing must be very different than your mental approach to schooling. Here are three of his tips for developing a strong schooling mindset:

Try “Softer”—Trying too hard or schooling when you should be showing can lead to pressure and fear of failure. Replace anxiety and self-criticism with self-belief and confidence.

Focus on a Task—Focus on a positive task, like repeating the motto, “Trust not train,” to stop your schooling mindset from getting in the way of your showing success.

Use a “Show-Starter”—Identify a cue that will create a boundary between your schooling and showing mindsets. For example, tell yourself to “start” your showing mindset when you hear the ding of the bell before your dressage test or when you walk into the start box before going cross-country. The sound of the bell, and the location of the start box, sets the boundary between your mindsets.

 

Pressure ProofGet more tips from Coach Daniel Stewart in PRESSURE PROOF YOUR RIDING, available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information.

 

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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santa

 

If Santa drove a team of horses,

he’d need them completely spook-free.

He’d give them a course

called Bombproof Your Horse

to make them as brave as can be.

 

If Santa drove a team of horses,

they’d have to be ready and willing.

Over, Under, and Through

with the moon full or new

(and without any tipping or spilling!)

 

If Santa drove a team of horses,

he’d want them to understand his directions.

With Horse Speak he’d know

how to stop, how to go,

how to praise and make gentle corrections.

 

If Santa drove a team of horses,

there’d be groundwork before they could fly.

A little Long-Reining

and some Liberty Training

would ensure happy trails in the sky.

 

If Santa drove a team of horses,

he’d have their well-being in mind.

He’d be sure they weren’t sore

with massage Light to the Core,

and his hands always soft, always kind.

 

If Santa drove a team of horses,

he’d want his head clear as could be.

With Pressure-Proof coaching

the holiday approaching

would be completely anxiety-free.

 

If Santa drove a team of horses,

we’d wait up late to sneak a quick look,

we’d hear nickers and hooves

as they land on the rooves

Delivering presents (and really good horse books!)

 

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Wishing all a safe and joyful holiday…from our horses to yours.

–The Trafalgar Square Books Staff

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.

 

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