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Posts Tagged ‘sport psychology’

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!)

 

holiday16fb

 

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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bt-tip-5

Don’t we all like to feel like we’re in control of our actions and reactions? Especially when it comes to working with and riding horses—it is in our best interests (in terms of living to see another day, that is) to maintain some semblance of calm, cool, rational control in stance and movement, and to generally avoid screaming, flailing, lurching, vomiting, fainting, or in other ways baffling or scaring the 1200-pound creature beside or beneath us.

The thing is, any number of years can go by, any number of instructors can point us in the a positive direction, and any number of experiences can go right…but we’ll still be thrown out of whack psychologically at the very thought of them potentially going wrong. And it is this that inspires the sudden and ill-advised lack of control that can end with us bottoms up in a puddle.

“The amygdala, which sits very near the brain stem, is the part of the brain responsible for these basic emotions: happy, sad, mad, and scared,” explains formerly practicing psychotherapist and certified riding instructor Andrea Waldo in her new book BRAIN TRAINING FOR RIDERS. “The area that includes the brain stem and the amygdala is often referred to as the ‘Lizard Brain’ or the ‘Reptile Brain,’ because reptiles seem to have been the first animals to possess this area.

“Much, much later, we evolved our prefrontal cortex,” she goes on, “a very large section located just behind the forehead. This is your ‘Rational Brain,’ the part of the brain that controls logical thought: it allows you to plan
that after you read this chapter, you need to pick up your son from soccer, buy grain, and remind your spouse that tomorrow is recycling day. It also allows you to do cool things like think in the abstract and come up with great inventions like saddles and Velcro and duct tape. We tend to rely on the prefrontal cortex to get us through the day.”

But guess what? Despite all that evolving that has occurred, the Lizard Brain likes to take the reins in our brains, determining how we act and react—and the reptile is neither reasoned nor logical.

“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,’” says Waldo. “It thinks only about the immediate moment, and it cares about only one thing in this moment: survival. This 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.

“The Lizard Brain can’t distinguish between a psychological threat and a physical one; it uses the same response for both. This is why a dressage judge can send your heart pounding and wipe your brain clean of everything you knew five minutes ago…. To the Lizard Brain, a threat is a threat, and you either need to kill it or run away from it as fast as possible.”

Your Lizard Brain is why a dressage judge can send your heart pounding and wipe your brain clean of everything you know!

Your Lizard Brain is why a dressage judge can send your heart pounding and wipe your brain clean of everything you know!

The good news is we don’t have to be brought down by a mental Godzilla! Waldo has lots of ways to tame the Lizard Brain, keeping us the cool, rational, controlled riders who are not only safer in the saddle, but happier and more successful in all our dealings with horses.

Here’s an easy exercise to get you started as you head out for a weekend of riding: List 10 of your riding skills.

Can you do it? Every single one, even the most basic, counts. If you can’t recognize your abilities, you can’t have confidence in them. But when you can look at yourself and identify all the ways you are a knowledgeable and capable horse person, then you can take one step in keeping that Lizard Brain out of the driver’s seat.

For more about our reptilian side and the ways we can learn to unlock our riding potential, check out BRAIN TRAINING FOR RIDERS by Andrea Waldo, available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE to download a free chapter or to order.

 

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

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International trainer and riding instructor Daniel Stewart is widely considered one of the world’s leading experts on equestrian sport psychology, biomechanics, and athletics. He teaches clinics and seminars to thousands of riders each year and is a popular guest speaker at many national and international conventions. Right now Daniel is in the middle of his annual summer clinic tour, featuring the popular “Pressure Proof” Clinics based on his fabulous and fun book PRESSURE PROOF YOUR RIDING.

Daniel’s summer tour has sold-out stops at farms from California to Maine. We are blown away by his seemingly boundless energy and positivity, even while he’s crisscrossing the country and pressure-proofing the masses! He always has a smile and a laugh at the ready, and we don’t know how he does it!

Check out Daniel’s typical day on the road, the fourth installment in TSB’s “Horseworld by the Hour” blog series.

 

24hrDS

A TYPICAL DAY ON THE PRESSURE PROOF SUMMER TOUR

5:00 a.m.  Wake up by mistake and smile because I still have another hour to sleep!

5:30 a.m.  Still smiling.

6:00 a.m.  Wake up and get ready to work out (the smile’s gone away a bit now…)

6:30 a.m.  Have a light breakfast of yogurt and fruit.

7:00 a.m.  Cardio and weight training (light weights and lots of repetitions so I can keep my girlish figure).

7:30 a.m.  Return to my hotel room—Yay, my workout’s done!

8:00 a.m.  Have a shower so that I can be clean when I get dirty at the barn.

8:30 a.m.  Have a second breakfast full of protein because it’s going to be at least 4 or 5 hours before I see a fork again!

9:00 a.m.  Drive from the hotel to the venue hosting my clinic.

9:30 a.m.  Welcome my clinic riders for the day.

10:00 a.m.  Teach a Pressure Proof Clinic to 4 intermediate horses and riders.

10:30 a.m.  Riders start doing situps because they’re scoring too many faults in my clinic!

11:00 a.m.  Teach a Pressure Proof Clinic to 4 advanced horses and riders.

11:30 a.m.  I oversee more situps because there are more faults!

12:00 p.m.  Teach a Pressure Proof Clinic to 4 novice horses and riders.

12:30 p.m.  Still more situps. The riders are having a hard time standing up now!

 

On tour, Daniel spends many hours a day in the ring, coaching riders.

On tour, Daniel spends many hours a day in the ring, coaching riders.

 

1:00 p.m.  Riding lessons (and situps) are done for the day.  Time to untack and eat a healthy lunch of wraps, fruit, and veggies with my clinic riders.

1:30 p.m.  Prepare and begin to teach my “confidence boosting” seminar to a room full of awesome riders.

2:20 p.m.  Still talking. Take a minute to finally take a breath because I talk so fast. Wrap up my seminar with a Q&A. Most common question: “Coach Stewart, why do you wear white pants when you teach in a dirt arena?”

2:30 p.m.  Sit down (for the first time in 5 hours) for my book signing of my book PRESSURE PROOF YOUR RIDING and rider fitness DVD E3: Extreme Equestrian Exercises.

3:00 p.m.  Say a big goodbye to the riders and thank the clinic organizer for all her hard work.

3:30 p.m.  Begin my drive to the venue where I’ll be teaching another great clinic tomorrow.

4:00 p.m.  Get lost on the way.

4:30 p.m.  Get found on the way.

5:00 p.m.  Get lost again.

5:30 p.m.  Arrive at the hotel. Yeah!

 

One of the most common questions asked in Daniel's seminar Q&A: "Daniel, why do you wear white pants when you teach in dirt arenas?"

One of the most common questions asked in Daniel’s seminar Q&A: “Daniel, why do you wear white pants when you teach in dirt arenas?”

 

6:00 p.m.  Skype with my wife and children—they miss their papa!

6:30 p.m.  Have a healthy dinner: Lots of protein, fruit, and veggies.

7:00 p.m.  Prepare for an hour of returning emails and booking flights and hotels for the next stops on the clinic tour.

7:30 p.m.  Can’t find any flights or hotels that I can afford so I keep looking.

8:00 p.m.  Finally decide to book the expensive flights and hotels because that’s all there is!

8:30 p.m.   Shut the computer off and turn on the TV.  Get ready Weather Channel, here I come!

9:00 p.m.  Watch my favorite show, MTV’s Ridiculousness (people do the dumbest things!!)

9:30 p.m.  Try watching my show but can’t seem to keep my eye’s open… must… not… fall… asleep…

10:00 p.m.  Fall asleep reminding myself how lucky I am to be able to repeat this wonderful day 49 more times in the next 58 days!!!

10:30 p.m.  Nobody home.  Smile still on my face though…

 

 

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

PRESSURE PROOF YOUR RIDING by Daniel Stewart is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A FREE EXCERPT

“Daniel’s enthusiasm is infectious, and his attitude toward emotional challenges makes having nerves and insecurities seem so normal—and so manageable.” —Leslie Threlkeld, Editor, Eventing USA

 

Read the other installments in TSB’s “Horseworld by the Hour” blog series:

Doug Payne

Janet Foy

Clinton Anderson

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CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

In his fun-and-idea-filled book PRESSURE PROOF YOUR RIDING, Daniel Stewart discusses dozens of specific tools and tricks that can be used to manage the stress, nerves, distraction, anxiety, and panic that so often hinder performance. And while there’s nothing new about using imagery and visualization to improve your riding, we can all use fresh concepts for how to incorporate them in our daily practice in order to reach our goals and achieve all we can with our horses.

 

Here are a few suggestions from PRESSURE PROOF YOUR RIDING to help you create “vivid visualizations”:

 

1  Make Your Visualizations “Touchable”

Create images that you can actually touch. When you do this, the image becomes more real and understandable because it creates a connection between your mind and body. This is called the mind-body bridge. For instance, a trainer notices her student’s rein contact is too loose so she picks up two small stones from the arena and instructs her to hold the stones—one in each hand—for the remainder of the lesson. The next day the trainer tells his student, “You don’t have to hold the stones today, only imagine what they felt like yesterday.” Since she’ll still have the physical and mental memory of what the stones felt like, this mental image will make perfect sense to her today.

 

Help yourself visualize the wind by first sticking your hand out the car window to see what it feels like.

Help yourself visualize the wind by first sticking your hand out the car window to see what it feels like.

 

2  Make Them Creative

When it comes to creating vivid mental images you’re only limited by your imagination so make them as creative as you can. For instance, a trainer might tell a student to open her shoulders by imagining the wind blowing them open but how can she touch this much wind? A windy day or a fan wouldn’t be enough but if she were to stick her hand out of the window of a speeding car, she’ll feel plenty of wind. The next time she rides she can simply remind herself how it felt to touch “plenty of wind” and how it pushed her hand back.

 

A gallon of hair gel in your horse's mane can help keep you from leaning too far forward!

A gallon of hair gel can help keep you from falling onto your horse’s neck!

 

3  Use All Your Senses

Engaging as many of your senses while imagining your mental images makes them feel very lifelike. For instance, a young rider was told to imagine spikes sticking out of her horse’s neck to avoid leaning too far forward, but instead of just thinking it, she took a gallon of hair gel and actually spiked her horse’s mane! She could now touch the pointy parts and feel the stickiness of the gel; she could actually see the spikes and smell them too. All these senses worked together to create a very effective and understandable image.

 

Use funny imagery to make your visualizations memorable.

Use funny imagery to make your visualizations memorable.

 

4  Make Them Funny

Create images that are funny, ridiculous, or just plain weird. When you do this, the images become very memorable. For instance, while holding sponges will certainly create good rein tension, holding a hamster in each hand and not squeezing them too hard (or their eyes will pop out!) is a funny example from one young rider. Here are few other examples of funny images:

• Potty Squat—A young rider learned her two-point position by imagining she was going to the bathroom in a “porta-potty.” The weight’s in her heels, knees open, hips back and hovering over the seat (not touching it!), hands slightly forward reaching for the paper, and never looking down!

• Beach Ball—A rider struggling with her sitting trot knew that her tight hips were causing her to bounce (much like the tight outer “skin” of a beach ball causes it to bounce), so she learned to relax her hips by imagining them as two big beach balls with some of the air let out. Since the outer walls of the balls were no longer so tight, there was no bounce left.

• Wonderbra—A rider learned to open her shoulders by remembering the well-known slogan of the Wonderbra. Instead of forcing her shoulders open she simply reminds herself to “lift and separate!”

 

Get more great tips from Daniel’s fab new book PRESSURE PROOF YOUR RIDING, available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER NOW

 

International trainer, instructor, and sport psychologist Daniel Stewart is getting ready to kick off his popular Summer Clinic Tour! This year he’ll teach 48 clinics in 31 cities in 54 days!

“Last year I taught 40 clinics in 50 days, and I’m getting ready to do it all over again,” says Daniel. “I also donated $4,200 of my clinic earnings to the US Pony Club and look forward to donating even more this year!”

 

TSB author Daniel Stewart kicks off his 2014 Summer Clinic Tour in June.

TSB author Daniel Stewart kicks off his 2014 Summer Clinic Tour in June.

 

If you’d like to audit or ride in one of Daniel’s summer clinics, check the tour stop list below and contact the organizer using the information following each date:

 

June 14/15 – Agoura Hills CA

danacphd@gmail.com

 

June 16/17 – Palos Verdes CA

jannabahny@gmail.com

 

June 18 – Woodland CA

sunfireequestrian@yahoo.com

 

June 19 – Gardenville NV

dberonio@guildmortgage.net

 

June 20/21 – Davis CA

amdennie@sbcglobal.net

 

June 22 – Gilroy CA

brucette123@aol.com

 

June 23/24 – Saratoga CA

dcohencc@earthlink.net

 

June 25 – Woodside CA

MMaroney@carbylan.com

 

June 26/27 – Bolinas CA

bolinas.hunters@sbcglobal.net

 

June 28/29 – Whidbey Isle WA

jcgmurphy@comcast.net

 

July 3/4 – Bend OR

spurranchllc@gmail.com

 

July 5/6 – Beaverton OR

tracimwheeler@mac.com

 

July 7 – Springfield OR

clays4@hughes.net

 

July 9/10 – Snohomish WA

atshideler@hotmail.com

 

July 12/13 – Hillsboro OR

equinerehab@gmail.com

 

July 15/17 – Spokane WA

laura_wrght@yahoo.com

 

July 19/21 – Lexington KY

USPC Festival

 

July 24/26 – Carbondale CO

staceysevers@gmail.com

 

July 27/28 – Steamboat CO

athenadesigns@msn.com

 

July 29/30 – Sedalia CO

manager@tollandfalls.com

 

Aug 2/3 – Tiverton RI

rachelharris14@hotmail.com

 

Aug 4/5 – Westchester NY

diavolio@optonline.net

 

Aug 6/7 – Long Island NY

farmsteadec@optonline.net

 

Aug 8/9 – Bristol CT

mrkost@sbcglobal.net

 

Aug 9/10 – Simsbury CT

horseluve@cox.net

 

Aug 11/12 – Warner NH

cathf28@aol.com

 

July 24/26 – Lyman ME

athertoneventing@gmail.com

 

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caesars-palace

 

It started as many adventures do at a certain point in life: with a Bucket List.

“I promised myself that one day I’d spend a week as a showgirl in Las Vegas,” says TSB author, motivational speaker, dressage coach, and former Olympic dressage alternate Jane Savoie. “I’d kick my legs like nobody’s business and wear a plume on my head instead of a helmet.”

A wild, pie-in-the-sky, pipe dream of a Bucket List item for some, perhaps, but Jane has developed a vast network of contacts via her popular Dressage Mentor site (www.DressageMentor.com). And one such connection offered her the chance of a lifetime: to don that fairytale plume and kick her heels up (instead of insisting they stay down) at Caesars Palace, a glittering resort known for hosting some of the biggest names in entertainment.

“And on top of that,” says Jane, “someone one-upped my showgirl goals and planted an even crazier idea in my head—I should (of course!) be on Dancing with the Stars! I don’t know whether it made things better or worse that I again knew someone through my Dressage Mentor network who made this new ‘goal’ actually remotely possible!

“It was about this time—between daydreaming about Caesars Palace and imagining myself on Prime Time Television—that I figured I better learn how to dance.”

 

TSB author Jane Savoie takes lessons at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in West Palm Beach, Florida.

TSB author Jane Savoie takes lessons at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in West Palm Beach, Florida.

 

So about a year ago, Jane, long a fan of ballet and Broadway, started taking ballroom dancing lessons at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in West Palm Beach, Florida (www.fredastairewpb.com). And it just so happened that “Dance Instructor Clifton” was the perfect fit for a Dressage-Queen-cum-Dancing-Queen like Jane.

“I became totally obsessed with dancing, and found myself in complete wonder over the parallels I was discovering between dressage and ballroom,” admits Jane. “Not only was it fun to do both, but one activity made me better at the other: Dancing improved my riding, and my history of riding toward very specific goals made applying myself to not just learning dance steps, but to becoming a REALLY GOOD DANCER, feasible.”

Well, hello Tom Bergeron! And viva Las Vegas!

“When you spend 40 years perfecting a 20-meter circle, focusing on the minutia that makes up serious dancing seems only natural,” Jane explains.  “Clifton will tell me that when you are getting ready to take a step in the waltz, for example, your power isn’t coming from the pointing leg—as most people might think—but from the standing leg. This is exactly like knowing when and how you can influence the power of the horse: not in the leg when it is in stride, but in the leg on the ground just before it takes a stride.

“The precision required in ballroom dancing, the layers of knowledge and strength, how you engage which muscle to go from one position to another, it is intricate, just like dressage.

“Plus, when dancing, you are working with a partner, just like when you are riding—it is a partnership that demands contact and connection. Your contact with your dance partner can start too strong, just like with a horse—then it might be inconsistent. The goal, as in dressage, is to establish and maintain a light, alive, consistent contact/connection so you and your partner look and move like a single unit. Again, this the same ideal we aim for in the dressage arena: whether we are floating as one across a dance floor or an indoor, ultimately, we are looking for a delicacy of sensation, an established sensitivity to the needs and movements of another, and communication that is so subtle it is almost intuitive.”

 

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So what’s in store for Jane Savoie, the ballroom dancer? She’s preparing for a competition the first week of December and a showcase performance in February. The latter is a recital-type event that gives her a chance to channel her inner diva in a sizzling hot number called “Be Italian” from the musical Nine.

“Dressage has given me good core strength and the ability to hold a frame on the dance floor, but you might say I have an FEI topline and Training Level feet!” says Jane with a laugh. “I have some serious work to do to get ready, especially after a summer where a number of injuries interfered with my conditioning.”

And what about riding? Unfortunately, Jane’s injuries prevented her from riding her Grand Prix horse Menno PM (“Moshi”), and so he was out of normal work for much of the summer.

“Our winter project is muscle-building and getting back into condition together,” says Jane, unsurprisingly still smiling. Jane always seems to ascend that much higher when faced with an additional challenge, so we think it is a pretty safe bet that she (and Moshi) will come back in better shape than ever.

And will we see Jane at Caesars Palace someday soon?

We’re definitely willing to put money on it.

 

Jane Savoie is the author of many bestselling books and DVDs. Check out these popular titles available from the TSB online bookstore where shipping in the US is always FREE:

JANE SAVOIE’S DRESSAGE 101

THAT WINNING FEELING!

IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE RIBBONS

THE HALF-HALT DEMYSTIFIED DVDS

RIDING IN YOUR MIND’S EYE DVDS

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Daniel teaches to an enthusiastic crowd at Equine Affaire in Springfield, MA.

Daniel teaches to an enthusiastic crowd at Equine Affaire in Springfield, MA.

It was a real treat to catch TSB author Daniel Stewart’s Pressure Proof Clinic using his “Playground” of jumping exercises at Equine Affaire this past weekend. As always, Daniel’s energy, enthusiasm, and humor had the crowd of spectators engaged and laughing.

It was truly remarkable to watch as the three very good young riders participating began the “game-show-like” exercises fully in control of their position and performance. But regardless of their ability at the beginning of the clinic, every one of them “cracked” in some way under the pressure as Daniel threw curve ball after curve ball at them. The point, however, wasn’t the “cracking,” but the way the riders handled themselves after making a mistake or forgetting a line: By the end of the session, all three had developed the ability to take what had gone wrong and learn from it, rather than let it drag them down.

Daniel’s fabulous new book PRESSURE PROOF YOUR RIDING is now available from the TSB online bookstore (where shipping in the US is always free). We caught up with Daniel during Equine Affaire and asked him about his clinics, his books, and how he stays energized enough to energize others.

TSB: Can you tell us about how you came up with the idea for your Pressure Proof clinics and the concepts that are the basis for your new book PRESSURE PROOF YOUR RIDING?

Daniel: I remember a young rider telling me that she used to think riding was so fun and enjoyable…until she started showing! Once she did she started to feel nervous, frustrated, and disappointed all the time, and no matter how hard she worked on her leg and position, she couldn’t get over it. Around the same time I read an article stating that over 60 percent of adolescent athletes quit sports all together because of what they called “a lack of fun.” It was then that I decided to develop a program to help riders not only do what they love, but to also love what they do.

TSB: You have provided mentoring and coaching for a number of WEG and Olympic teams. What is it like preparing equestrian athletes for international competition? Do you coach riders who compete differently than you coach those who just want to rider their best at home or on the trail?

Daniel: I’ve always believed that all riders—regardless of whether they’re competitive or recreational—can benefit from a little positive thinking, practice in goal-setting, and ways to cope with pressure. I don’t actually set out to train Olympic riders differently than others, or competitive riders differently than recreational—what I try and do instead is to train each rider as an individual. (I don’t believe there’s a mental training program for all riders—I believe that there’s a mental training program for each rider!) Identifying the exact behaviors and needs of each individual rider is the best way to build a program to help him or her overcome specific mental challenges.

 

Click to download Daniel's Free Pressure Proof Projects!

Click to download Daniel’s Free Pressure Proof Projects!

 

TSB: You provide a number of fun exercises and “Pressure Proof Projects” in your book to help riders develop confidence and cool in the saddle. What is one of your favorite exercises and why?

Daniel: I think my favorite exercise has to be building “cue words” (acronyms that remind us what we should remember). We all have plenty of great things to remember, but sometimes pressure has a weird way of making us forget them (ominously referred to as Stress Induced Amnesia!) Arming ourselves with a “wordplay reminder” like BEST (Balance Every Single Transition), BLAST (Breathe, Laugh, and Smile Today), LOGO (Laugh Or Get Off), and LUCKY (Look Up Cluck Kick Yell) can help us to remember all the great lessons our trainers have taught us.

TSB: Lucinda Fredericks, who won the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event on Headley Britannia in 2009, is pictured on the front of PRESSURE PROOF YOUR RIDING. What is it about the photo of Lucinda that captures what you hope to provide riders with your techniques and exercises?

Daniel: What I love most about this photo is how Lucinda is looking down at Brit, and even though one happy hand is fist-pumping in the air, the other is down congratulating Brit! I think this photo does a wonderful job of showing the amazing bond between horse and rider. It also reminds me of a young rider who once rode his heart out, gave a 120 percent, never gave up, and in the end finished with this same kind of fist-pump in the air! Not because he won, but because he came in third knowing that it was the best ride of his life. It wasn’t important to him what color ribbon he won, it was more important to him that he gave everything to his horse, and that his horse give his everything right back.

 

Lucinda Fredericks, the cover star from Daniel's new book PRESSURE PROOF YOUR RIDING.

Lucinda Fredericks, the cover star from Daniel’s new book PRESSURE PROOF YOUR RIDING.

 

TSB: You work a lot with Pony Clubbers and young riders. What do you like best about mentoring kids who love horses and love riding?

Daniel: What I love most about working with young riders is the energy, excitement, and laughter that they bring to my clinics. I always do my best to inspire riders to be their best, but when I work with energetic, excited, and fun young riders, they inspire me to be my best! I guess what I love most about working with them is their laughter. Children laugh up to 400 times a day, while most adults only do so about 17. I’ve always believed that emotions are contagious, and I love catching the “laughter bug” from them! I also just really enjoy working with youngsters—when I’m not on the road teaching clinics, I’m the volunteer lunch lady at my daughter’s school and the volunteer librarian at my son’s!

TSB: This summer you were on the road for two months for a 50-clinic, 42-city sold out tour! We’re dying to know your secrets for keeping yourself “up” for each new stop—how did you stay energized enough to energize others?

Daniel: I have the world’s greatest and most simple trick, and I use it (and it works) every single time. The trick is simply this: When I pull up into the parking lot of the barn where I’ll be teaching my clinic, I turn off the car, take a deep breath, smile a big smile and then say the most important four words I can think of, “Have fun today, Danny.” I know it doesn’t sound like much, but I allow these words to remind me how lucky I am to be a riding coach and what an honor it is to be able to teach what I love.

In the end, it’s this little smile and sentence that keeps my energy up and reminds me that the world’s greatest teachers never expect their students to be more excited about learning than they are about teaching.

TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember sitting on a horse.

Daniel: I didn’t come from an equestrian family, instead, I started riding for a very understandable reason… because all the girls were hanging out at the barn!! My first crush was a rider so I started riding at her barn—just long enough to find my second crush, and then my third and fourth and so on! By the time I was 20 I was the most popular boy in the whole zip code!

My first actual ride was pretty ridiculous: I started to freak out so I asked my girlfriend what in the world the horse was doing, and she said (somewhat sarcastically), “Ah, he’s walking, that’s what horses do.” My first really meaningful experience happened one freezing winter morning when I was haying horses behind a large wind-break. A school horse came up to me and leaned into me, basically pinning me between him and the wooden wind-break, not because he wanted to hurt me, but because he wanted to gain a little heat from me! It was at that second that I became a rider, because it was then that I fell in love with horses (in addition to all the girls at the barn…)

TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember falling off a horse.

Daniel: It happened when I was really young. I knew what the full seat canter was, but I hadn’t yet learned that there was such a thing as a half-seat. Well, one day the mare I was riding started getting a little forward so I just started moving my hips a little faster so I could stay deep in the saddle. She then got faster so I moved faster, and so on and so on! Before long she was at a full gallop, and I was still trying to keep up with my full seat canter (which I know now was just encouraging her to go faster!) until it became obvious things weren’t going to work out well. So, when I couldn’t keep up I just made the decision to jump and pull the rip-cord.

The good news is that I landed on my feet with the reins in my hand and just ran beside the mare until she slowed down!

 

PRESSUREPROOF here

 

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?

Daniel: Wow, that’s a weird combination, a horse and a book….Well, I’ve never met a horse that I didn’t like, but if I had a to choose I’d have to go with an Irish Sport Horse because of their competitive spirit and sheer guts. I think the world of these wonderful horses. As for the book, I recently read The Hunger Games and loved it. So if I’m going to be stuck on an island somewhere, I hope I’ll have Catching Fire and Mockingjay with me.

TSB: If you had an iPad and WiFi on your island, what movie would you stream?

Daniel: First of all if I was on an island I would most definitely have my iPad with me because I don’t go anywhere without it! As for the movie… it would be a toss up between Grown-ups and Saving Nemo! I can watch them all day long and never get tired of them, and when you and your horse have done everything right but it still goes wrong…just keep swimming!

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

Daniel: Initially I’d like to say dependability, kindness, or loyalty…but then I’d have to go with answer “D”—all of the above.

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

Daniel: Like I mentioned before I love a horse with a huge competitive spirit and big heart. Like a great rider, when the horse’s head and heart work together, anything is possible!

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

Daniel: Wow… this is a cool question. I’ve gone swimming, surfing, and even skiing with a horse, but I’ve never gone skydiving or scuba diving with one. Realistically, I grew up as a jumper and eventer but what I’d really, really love to do is buy a big ole western saddle with a ton of silver on it and go reining, cutting, and team-penning! I admire the Quarter Horses who make these sports such a blast, and I hope I can try them—hopefully sooner rather than later!

TSB: What is your idea of the perfect meal?

Daniel: Any meal with my wife and children! I teach clinics in different cities 45 weekends a year and miss my family a lot. Oh yeah…anything with the word “pizza” in it is also going to be a big hit with me.

TSB: What is your idea of the perfect vacation?

Daniel: Any vacation with my wife and children! Actually I fell in love with Greece during the 2004 Olympics but never really had the time to explore. If I had the time I’d love to go back there and take a boat through the Greek islands. Maybe on the way home we’d stop in the south of France. There’s an area there called Camargue with some of the worlds coolest horses. And my wife and I spent our honeymoon in San Tropez so it would be neat to see it again.

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

Daniel: Steve Jobs. I’d like to ask him how to use a computer. I believe I’m a good coach but my office management skills are sadly lacking, and I’m sure it would be easier if he could show me a few tricks! If he isn’t available, I’d like to talk to the guy who invented the TV remote control.

TSB: What is your motto?

Daniel: I love mottos and my favorite is definitely “Your horse doesn’t care how much you know until he knows how much you care.” Coming in a close second is probably, “What lies in front of you and what lies behind you pale in comparison to what lies inside you.”

 

CLICK HERE to download a free excerpt from PRESSURE PROOF YOUR RIDING or to order.

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