California Riding Magazine • March, 2014

Book & DVD Review
Pressure Proof Your Riding; Stable Wisdom

Pressure Proof Your Riding
Written by Daniel Stewart
Reviewed by Dianne Chapman McCleery

Pressure Proof Your Riding is an equestrian sports psychology book. The rather long subtitle is "Mental Training Techniques: Gain Confidence and Get Motivated So You (and Your Horse) Achieve Peak Performance." The author, Daniel Stewart, an internationally known trainer, instructor and sport psychology expert, says, "Our sport is unlike any other because of the incredibly meaningful relationship between horse and rider." He also says, "Sure, we do what we love, but do we always love what we do?" Stewart has set out in this book to make sure the readers love every second they spend with their horses.

Sports psychology is what helps riders with that all important six inches between their ears, what helps "pressure proof" them, no matter what happens. Stewart notes, "The only thing predictable about horses is that they're unpredictable." Knowing what to do when the unpredictable happens (see "duck to the chest" explanation, page 5) is important for riders' mental, emotional and physical well-being.

With chapter titles such as "Defense Mechanisms," "Positive Mental Traits," "Negative Mental Traits," "Mental Imagery" and "Stress Management," the reader is given plenty of tools and techniques to manage the stresses and challenges of riding. There's homework to be done, too. One time reading through is not going to change negative habits into strong ones. Stewart adds to the end of each chapter a short quiz to see if the reader has "got it." If not, the reader is instructed to re-read and delve deeper into what is being presented.

I especially like Chapter 10, "Don't Ever Give Up: Laugh, Learn and Love." His final words are about treating ourselves to laughter, learning from what happens, and remembering that the love of horses is why we ride. Stewart says, "Always remember that one of your greatest responsibilities is to have fun and believe in yourself." It's the skills that keep riders believing in themselves that Stewart presents in this book.

I thoroughly enjoyed Pressure Proof Your Riding, which is good since I'll be returning to it again and again. Stewart's writing style is fluid and humorous. There are beautiful photographs (with events not always going well), entertaining drawings, and sidebar "Tips" throughout. You do not need to be a competition rider to find value in this book, just have a desire to be a more secure and focused rider. Now, I'm off to ride, armed with my "C" words – calm, confident, competent (see Chapter 5, "Brain Babble").

Dianne Chapman McCleery is a writer and editor who rides with a natural horsemanship trainer in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

Stable Wisdom
Written by Shirley J. Potterton
Reviewed by Lucy Bobek

"Every midlife woman has faced disaster, disappointment, and deep frustration, but every midlife woman also knows what it's like to love so much you will not give up."

Stable Wisdom will delight lifelong horse folk and those who are rekindling their love of horses. Stable Wisdom weaves many stories of women in midlife, these are not fairy stories - many broken hearts are detailed along the way. Some disrespectful, and some downright dangerous horses will be found amongst tales of "sweetheart" horses. Pegge's story involves an abused mare that severely injures her, and in-flight, ends up injuring herself. These stories are not easy to read, but the heart wrench is tempered by the women who persist.

Funny stories of women who find out their family's secrets via their equine friends. To say much more would be a spoiler to your enjoyment of the book, but the story of the mule who would not move from the blackberry thicket is one I will always remember. If my mount refuses to "walk-on," there may be a whole history of reasons why.

The author covers many subjects, such as diet, exercise and emotional well-being. Keeping fit and healthy does not have to be a strict regimen. Potterton gives examples of studies and real-life cases of getting fitter and stronger and making it enjoyable. There are many reflections of childhood, so any age can enjoy this insightful and delightful book.

Potterton's aim is for women to embrace the spirit of the horse, and in Stable Wisdom, she has accomplished her goal admirably:
"Horse work before house work."

Lucy Bobek rides a rescued Quarter Horse, english-style.