Stop the Negative Self-Talk
This past weekend I was scheduled to run a Ragnar trail race for which I trained for months. Ragnar is a race where teams come together to run a course through the woods over two days and one night. I was to run three loops, which totaled about 15 miles. Unfortunately, my race weekend didn’t go as planned. I got my first loop (the longest and hardest) done. But due to a tweaked knee and an infected stye that left my one eye swollen shut and draining into my lymph nodes, I couldn’t finish. Thankfully, we had a standby ready to fill the spot, so the team didn’t suffer.
That said, the negative self-talk I dispensed over the next 24 hours was pretty harsh. I knew better than to beat myself up, but I did my best to convince myself that I was a failure. Then I re-read this month’s story by U.S. Olympian Allison Brock (p. 36). While Brock’s tips for mental focus are related to riding, I also found them helpful for the situation I was experiencing. The tip that struck the loudest chord for me was No. 5: “Quiet Your Inner Critic.” She warns us to be very aware of our internal dialog, saying: “When I’m having the negative back talk in my brain, I’ve learned to sit there and challenge and question what I’m saying: Is this a fact or a feeling? Am I actually a failure or do I feel like a failure? Feelings are not necessarily facts.” This spoke volumes to me, and I think you’ll find the rest of her article a tremendous help in your own training.
Our cover story this month is from former USEF National Young Horse Dressage Coach Scott Hassler. He speaks to us about finding true collection in the dressage horse and the importance that rhythm and forward desire play in the success of collection. He offers a wonderful exercise that he calls “Schooling Through the Numbers,” in which he gradually asks his horse for collection in the canter. He includes advice for the horse just learning collection and for the more educated horse. You can read about this exercise and others starting on p. 28.
This issue also introduces us to Quinn Iverson, a young protégé of U.S. Olympian and U.S. Equestrian’s Dressage Development Coach Debbie McDonald. McDonald saw Iverson riding in a clinic at First Level and knew the young rider had talent. After discussions with Iverson and her family, McDonald welcomed the teenager to join her and Olympian Adrienne Lyle (also discovered by McDonald) as a working student in Idaho and Florida. You can read Iverson’s story on p. 42.
Other stories this month include an excerpt from The Dressage Seat by German trainer and author Anja Beran (p. 46), tips on clipping and blanketing from two of the sport’s top grooms (p. 56) and much more.
Until next time,