Sunday, September 22, 2013


Daniel Stewart, himself
The story starts the Daniel Stewart Pressure Proof your Riding clinic...  "Way back when, at an International 3*, a Belgium* rider is just three fences from finishing when the horse is broadsided by a duck flying across the course.  Feathers fly and loud squawking occurs as the duck hits the ground...  The rider, rattled by the experience, stops and retires on course just three jumps from finishing...  She couldn't get her focus back!"

"Great riders master both the physical and the mental.  Today it's about increasing mental focus and confidence.  To experience your duck(s) and continue on..." 

And Folks... Game On!  Daniel Stewart was taking no prisoners.  His philosophy was to use the Overload Principle and "push us to fail"!  Our lessons should be harder than a competition and by pushing past your comfort zone, you get better!  Think about that...  overload our brains and teach us to be better by pushing us to fail.  Oh my!

One of the thing he pushed at the end was to "Pay it Forward"  To really embody the concepts and to make them your own, you have to give them away.  So, to be as succinct as possible...  here you go:

Camera couldn't quite capture the course
Our jumping exercise was called the Playground - Three lines of three jumps.  Each rider would have four rounds with each round getting more complicated.  DS would tell us what course to jump as we approached E.  His command would include the line (Outside, Diagonal, Bending, Center), how many jumps to jump AND the time to complete it.

 Every rider had 30 points to give up.  5 points for rails, going off course or taking the "near" side on a bending line, 1 point for every second off the time and 1 point for chipping in or taking the long spot.

Unfortunately, I completely blew it...  every single point.  You see, my Duck was chipping in.  I had the speed down, remembered the course (until the ducks showed up) and was competent.  When DS mentioned that I needed to work on doing the outside line better (improve the physical) so she wouldn't chip...  I began to focus on chipping in... even to the extent that I was counting them for the scribe.  And, "when you're ducking Ducks, you aren't riding!"  {{{OH MY!  I think we have something here.}}}

It was FABULOUS!  I haven't had this much fun jumping in a long time!  Like my horse, we both became more business-like (and less hysterical/spooky) when everything was quick, complicated and required focus.

DS - "Forget about being perfect!  Be excellent!  Focus on what is going well and you continue to improve."   "You are "Adults with Issues".  As you drive up the driveway to the barn, tuck all that craziness away and remember why you do this... for the love of your horse."

Our homework - (He gave us four things but said that we should only keep three):
  • Music as Motivation - Put together a Playlist after determining if you're the type of person who either needs to "pump it up" or "Calm Down".  Choose songs that motivate you, that have words that mean something to you.  Have as many as you want but choose 2 or 3 to become your Anthem. 
  • Develop Cue Words - Cues your focus.  He gave some awesome examples
    • STAR - Sit Tall And Release, Stop Thinking And Relax
    • BIG - Breathing Is Good
    • LOGO - Laugh Or Get Off
    • SUPER - Succeed Under Pressure Every Ride
  • Rituals as Stress Stoppers (not going to go into this 'cause its the 4th)
  • Targeting - Get in the Zone by targeting some thing in the ride that develops a state of flow - horses breath, sound of the tack... a cadence - "Be strong, push on!"
Fall day in New England - EXCELLENT!
And finally "Build your Equestrian Brand" by incorporating these tasks in to a brand.  For instance, the rider who had SUPER as the Cue Word also had Superman as her song, wore a Superman T-Shirt under her jacket and embodied the spirit.

DS's last comment before he left to catch his plan "Laughter heals and when we can laugh, we get better."

You know...  he's right!  I do this for fun!  I love my horse - quirks and all!  And you know what else, Sugar may be saying the same thing to her friends, "I love my person - quirks and all!  Thanks to Scarlet Hill Farm for hosting! 

* Two quick notes - It may have been another nationality he mentioned but I couldn't confirm on line so I'm going with Belgium.  And I didn't ride poorly and most of what I did was good (I think), I just blew everything on the last exercise (Outside, diagonal, center, bending - 10 jumps 45 seconds).  I got dinged for going off course, 15 seconds when I circled after  missed the center, and then got lost and stopped.)  It was still awesome!


Amanda said...

I watched a Daniel Stewart clinic and it was great! I've used a lot of his suggestions and they have really helped. Glad you had fun!

Kat said...

Sounds like a great experience!

T Myers said...

What a neat clinic...would love to see the exercises you guys did.

Christine said...

Sounds great! I'd love to do a clinic like that :)