The Sunday Review: Brain Training For Riders by Andrea Monsarrat Waldo

It’s been about a year since I last reviewed a good book.  It really has been that long since I’ve read a physical book! 

I recently read this current book in only two days and I’m still going back to reread the most important pieces. 

This week’s book is named “Brain Training for Riders: Unlock Your Riding Potential with StressLess Techniques for Conquering Fear, Improving Performance, and Finding Focused Calm” by Andrea Monsarrat Waldo.


JUST A QUICK OVERVIEW

 My trainer recently participated in a webinar led by Andrea Waldo and bought the book. A few days later she messaged all of us (her students) to tell us about the book. She began to tell us about what she had learned in our lessons and started to apply the techniques to help us through our rough moments.

The book has become almost a required textbook for us (we weren’t really required to, more like a strong suggestion) and it wasn’t until I bought the book and read it that I fully understood why.

Each and every one of us has anxiety one way or another. We have all fallen victim to our worst enemies…our brains…at one time (or many). Some of us have fear from bad experiences, from near misses, from our own conjuring. Whatever the case Andrea addresses it in her book.

Andrea Monserrat Waldo is well known in equestrian sports, having competed advanced levels in eventing and third level in dressage. She’s also an instructor. She has also been a psychotherapist with a master’s degree in counseling. Over the years she’s developed her horses and students with her StressLess Techniques. The added knowledge in psychotherapy really pays off and shines here in “Brain Training for Riders.”

If your goal doesn’t scare you just a little bit, it’s probably too easy!

-Andrea Monsarrat Waldo

THE BOOK:

Andrea Waldo has divided her book “Brain Training for Riders” into four very well planned parts. The first covers the brain, how it works, and how it can work against us. It also talks about brain traps and dives into how to get out of them. For me this was the most powerful part of the book as I struggle with some of the key concepts daily in everyday life and with horse life. The second part of the book is aimed at performance, but I take away much more than that. I don’t compete but it helped and inspired me to define my goals…which I’ve found most are performance based. In the third part Andrea discusses some big issues that hinder rider success; moving past trauma and being on the wrong horse. Finally the book concludes with techniques for trainers and how instructors can help their students.

The brain traps is a section everyone could use whether they ride or not. There are nine in the book; treating problems as character flaws, catastrophizing, giving anxiety too much airtime, telling war stories, remembering fear but not success, overgeneralizing, judging your insides by others outsides, minimizing abilities/exaggerating weaknesses, and perfectionism. I have without any doubt experienced every single brain trap Andrea addresses. I was so excited to go home to show Zac the book, and as I read him an excerpt called “How to Accept a Compliment” my voice cracked. I wasn’t crying but I was definitely moved. The whole chapter changed my world.

One of the brain traps made me realize that one of my most cherished Facebook groups, #Shiteventersunite might not be the best choice for me. I haven’t removed myself from the group since there are so many fun photos, stories, and people but I have realized I need to spend less time there and avoid the near miss/falls videos.

The brain doesn’t know the difference between real and imagined, so when you call up a scary memory, all the emotions associated with that memory come flooding in with it. If it’s someone else’s experience your lizard brain pictures the scenario and reacts as if it’s happening to you. When you’re working to improve your confidence, the last thing you need is for your FOFR to get triggered when there’s no real danger around.

Andrea Monsarrat Waldo

MY FAVORITE PARTS:

  • The brain traps section of “Brain Training for Riders” had that greatest impact on me. I felt it to my core and found myself verklempt as I read. It felt like Andrea was speaking directly to me.
  • In Chapter 6, StressLess Showing: Competing with Confidence, I didn’t expect much. I don’t show. I didn’t expect to find myself inspired and sitting down for a brainstorming session. Immediately after I read the chapter I got a blank piece of paper and began a list of goals. I actually made a list and got it onto paper. I might not show but I can still create some good goals for this year.
  • Overcoming psychological trauma in Chapter 7: Beyond Stressful: I Just Can’t Get Over It was very important to me. I have taken several falls in the last year that shook my confidence in a big way. I am afraid of cantering through the woods, I’m fearful of many XC style jumps, I’m so anxious riding at home I self sabotage. My shoulder occasionally hurts and my back is starting to require pain meds daily. It has hurt my riding, my confidence, my psyche, and my riding relationship with my horses. Getting past the troubles of last year is my main goal for this year and “Brain Training for Riders” has helped me develop a plan.

Final Word:

Whether you’re a rider, a parent of a rider, a trainer, or a bystander….you need “Brain Training for Riders” by Andrea Monserrat Waldo. The book is most powerful for riders in competition but people from all walks of life could learn and improve their own life with this book to some extent. This book has changed my world and I plan to be referring back to it throughout the year and beyond as I “tame that lizard brain.” I have repeatedly told Zac and my mom about the book and they have nothing to do with horses.

Andrea covers important notes on how our brain works against us and how to overcome that. The book helps create awareness, understanding, and helps to develop a plan.

This past week, only a few lessons since reading the book, I’ve had one of my very best lessons to date. My leg was steady. I felt solid. I felt confident. I know I have a ways to go and a lot of work to do but to feel the way I did at that lesson last week makes me feel excited and inspired to keep going.

You never know someone else’s whole story, and your journey is your own. Let go of the weight comparing yourself to others-it takes time and energy away from the effort of your own recovery.

-Andrea Monsarrat Waldo

2 Comments

  1. You are so inspiring & such a great pony sister friend. So many points hit home for me too in your telling’s of this book. I have just received Horse brain Human brain that I ordered. I will add this one to my list. I have had some “horsey people” tell me reading about horses is a waste of time & have offered to ride with me. Whilst I appreciate their well meaning ways from what I have seen & experienced I’m quite happy to read & ride on my own. lol. Great post I love seeing your photos. Have a wonderful horsey week.

    Liked by 1 person

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