Episode 282-Riding Towards Understanding: the Virtual Tevis Cup Challenge

In this episode, Stacy Westfall explores the power of goal-setting and learning in layers, using her own experiences and the upcoming Virtual Tevis Cup as examples.
She explores how breaking down big goals into smaller, achievable tasks can propel us toward our ultimate dreams., discussing how seemingly unrelated goals can complement each other. The Virtual Tevis Cup serves as a focal point, challenging listeners to rethink their capabilities and embrace new opportunities for growth, even in unexpected areas. Stacy emphasizes the importance of self-awareness, learning from mistakes, and maintaining a community-driven approach to equine endeavors.

If you’re interested in participating in the Virtual Tevis Cup or exploring layered goals for yourself and your horse, visit Stacy Westfall’s website or social media for more information.

Links mentioned:

Click here to learn more about the Virtual Tevis Cup Challenge 2024

Click here to join Stacy’s Team

Click here to learn more about the in person Tevis Cup, which is an event you must qualify for because the goal is 100 miles in 24 hours. The event is monitored with vets, and you must qualify to ensure the safety of the horse and rider participating.

Show Notes:

“If I understand, I am setting myself up to probably make some mistakes, but I commit to learning. This is the secret to understanding yourself better. This is the secret to unlocking the potential that is being blocked because of the rider’s mind.”

Podcasting from a little cabin on a hill. This is the Stacy Westfall podcast. Stacy’s goal is simple to teach you to understand why horses do what they do, as well as the action steps for creating clear, confident communication with your horses.

Well there. I have two different things tracking my ride right now on Willow. I’ve got Equilab, which is the very first time I’ve downloaded it and used it, and I have my Garmin watch, which I’ve been using for a while to track my own runs and for tracking my trail riding. Hi, I’m Stacy Westfall and I’m here to help you understand, enjoy, and successfully train your own horses. And today I want to talk to you about the power of seeing your goals in layers. I made a comment in a recent podcast where I said, I want to learn more in the next four years than I did in the four years that I was in college. And the reason I made that statement is because I would love to get you thinking about how that would be possible. And if you want to answer that question for yourself, that would be amazing. But if your brain won’t quite go there with you, then let’s go ahead and use me as an example. So how is it that as a professional who has been training horses for more than two decades, how could I possibly learn more now in the next four years than I did when I was an inexperienced college student going to an equine college? And the answer for me lies in looking at greater and greater detail. And when I say greater and greater detail, a lot of times I can see people’s eyes glaze over because they start thinking something like, I’ve already got so much to do, that sounds really overwhelming and that kind of stuff.

So what I want to do in this podcast is I want to explain to you, using myself as an example, so that you can spin off into your own example. I want to explain how if you see your goals or your dreams in layers, it begins to make you able to see how focusing on a small thing or a specific thing, depending on what you pick and how you experience it, can actually help move you towards your ultimate dream. So the example I want to use right now is the virtual Tevis Cup. So if you don’t know what the Tevis Cup is, go ahead and Google it. Tevis Cup. But it is a trail ride where the challenge is to go 100 miles in 24 hours. Now the winner goes 100 miles in less than 24 hours. And fun fact last year’s winner was Bridleless. That is well worth googling and looking at. I remember learning about this event back when I was in high school and just being blown away because it’s not just 100 miles, it’s rugged and steep, and there’s a swinging bridge that was involved at one point. So Google that and take a look at it. So I’ve known about the event for a long time, but it was just in the last few weeks that something popped up on my Facebook page where Denny Emerson had posted about the virtual Tevis Cup.

So out of curiosity, I clicked on it and looked up and found that the Tevis Cup started a virtual ride back in 2020 when many things went virtual. But they kept it going as a fundraiser for the nonprofit that maintains the trails for the actual Tevis Cup competition. So basically, the idea is that starting on April 10th, 2024, and going through the actual Tevis Cup ride, there’s 100 days for you if you choose to participate, because I’m going to invite you to participate with me at the end. There’s 100 days where I can ride my horse, and the goal for me would be 100 miles in 100 days. And if you choose to join my virtual team, Team Westfall, I was very original. If you decide to join my team, then your goal would be to ride 100 miles in 100 days. And the reason that I think this is such a powerful example of looking at goals in layers is that it would be super easy to just scroll by something like the virtual Tevis Cup and think, no, that’s not for me. I’m a fill in the blank – I ride western dressage. I’m a casual trail rider. I do things with my horse, but half of the time I’m doing groundwork and half of the time I’m riding. That’s not for me. And when I think about how I’m going to learn more in the next four years than I did in the four years when I was in an equine college, and I think about learning in layers, what comes to my mind is that my first reaction when I thought about possibly doing this was, I don’t know, I probably already ride about that much, and that would be an interesting thing for you to calculate right now.

So a little bit more information about the actual event. Anything. So you could lead your horse and that counts towards your miles. You can ride your horse and that counts towards your miles. You can drive your horse. I just saw somebody on Facebook the other day where they’re driving their mini, and they’re signed up to drive the hundred miles, or maybe they’re going to do a combo of driving and groundwork. I do know they’re not going to be riding. And so what’s interesting about this concept is that if you start stretching yourself to think, oh, instead of I’m not a person who is interested in the Tevis Cup in general, I’m never going to ride my horse 100 miles in 24 hours, which, by the way, there are lots of vet checks and you can’t just sign up and do that. You have to actually qualify. But for this 100 miles in 100 days, the question for me was, oh, that’s interesting, what could I learn? And my brain went to I probably already ride Willow, for example, the horse that I’m riding right now. I probably already ride her close to that. So then I became aware that I could just go back through my calendar where I write down how much I ride her.

I became aware that I could go back through my calendar, and I could probably add up the trail miles and know the answer to the question do I already ride 100 miles? But it actually leaves a huge gap because I don’t ever track the number of miles when I’m doing arena riding. So that’s an interesting place where I could learn a lot more. If I take on this challenge of actually tracking, which comes up with another point of resistance when you choose to do something that doesn’t exactly seem to fit with. Let’s just use the example of you have a goal to show your horse in Western dressage this year. It might seem like riding in something like the virtual Tevis Cup doesn’t fit, but that’s when I want you to ask yourself how does it fit? How does this layer in? Was that easy for you to go to? What’s your answer? How would signing up to ride 100 miles in 100 days? How would that support your goal of Western dressage? Or if you want to approach it from a different angle, does riding or doing groundwork does? I’m just going to say riding for most of the podcast. Just remember that you can actually be doing groundwork. So if I dismount and lead Willow on the trail right now, that also counts. How does riding your horse and having the goal of riding 100 miles and 100 days, how could that support your Western dressage goal? And those questions are where I like to live.

This is where I’ve trained my brain to see the similarities, to look for the complementing things that can happen. So for me, when I think about how could signing up for this virtual challenge help support my riding goals? Very quickly my brain goes to the four square model and I think fitness. So when I go out here on the trails, one of the reasons I love to trail ride all of my horses is for the fitness gain. I live in an area where I have access to trails with hills, and for me it feels a little bit like cheating because when I go on the hills, I can support just a little bit to say use your body correctly. So for example, I don’t want Willow rushing up or down a hill. So as long as I say to her you’re not allowed to rush up or down the hill, then the hill does the rest of the work for getting her to move and use her body correctly. That’s the part that feels a little bit like cheating to me, because to get her to do that level of engagement and collection in the arena requires me to do a lot more. So I love letting the Hill be the thing that shows my horse how to correctly use her body, and it’s really pretty up here.


Good. How about you? Beautiful day. Although I keep wondering if we’re going to get rained on. It’s not supposed to, but do we believe them? Great answer. Not until after I get home. You two have a great ride. And although I had this planned for later in the podcast, it’s a little bit of skipping ahead. But since I just ran into other trail rider’s on the trail, it’s worth noting. Another reason that I wanted to do this virtual challenge was for the community aspect of it, because I started the group, so we are going to be able to see each other’s progress and the team mileage as it racks up there. But also the Tevis Virtual has their own Facebook page, and it’s just kind of fun to be meeting up with other rider’s who have chosen the same challenge. Now for me, I also go out here and trail ride, and it brings me out onto the trails where I get to actually meet other people and stop and talk to them, which is really good for my horses and my training. So back to some of the points using the Four Square model number one horses, fitness and inside that same thing. So horse’s body rider’s body. There’s a fitness element to it that I enjoy doing on the trail. Now again, you could actually rack up these miles in an arena. And when I’m doing that, if I want to up the fitness level a little bit, then I add polls like ground polls first one single ground poll, and then I start working my way up from there so I can get a little bit of that same effect if I don’t have access to the hills.

On top of that, I’ve decided to sign two horses up. So at some point there’s also a little bit of a rider fitness level that’s going to happen from doing this challenge, but I actually think that one of the areas that is going to be most impacted is actually the rider’s mind. So the way that I see this working for me is that when I choose to commit to a goal like the Tevis Cup virtual Challenge, it automatically gets me thinking differently. Now notice I already told you my brain went back to like, do I already do this? Have I already done this? Can I go back and count my miles? I did not allow myself to do that. I could later if I wanted to for fun. But the reason I didn’t let myself go back there and do that is because I wanted to be able to stay present for what I could learn by doing it now. So this brings up a common area where rider’s miss an opportunity, and the opportunity that can be missed. If I went back and I said, ah yeah, no, no big deal, I have already ridden 100 miles and 100 days. I don’t need to do that again. Notice how much learning happens in that. Pretty much zero. I might learn that I rode 100 miles in 100 days on the trails last year, but I don’t actually open myself up to current and future learning for the next 100 days.

But if I say to myself whether I look at whether I’ve done it before or not, if I say to myself, what could I learn by signing up to do 100 miles in 100 days, I automatically can feel my brain shift into all the layers of detail. Right now I have turned on Equilab to track my ride. I’ve never owned Equilab before. I downloaded it right before I headed out. I also have my Garmin watch tracking my ride that I have done consistently when I go on trail rides for the last few years, which is why I would have the information if I went back and looked. I would have the information about how many trail ride miles I have, but I do not have the information for tracking my arena rides, which brings up an area of learning. I’m going to have to create a new habit of turning on some version of tracking when I ride in the arena, and I already know that’s going to be a stretch, I can already foresee me forgetting to track one of my rides in the arena, maybe most likely several of my rides in the arena. Unless I see that potential, like I’m saying I do, and I develop a strategy for it. So what kind of strategy could I develop? Well, I love to set phone alarms, but the problem is I vary when I ride, so that’s probably not going to work for me.

But I could do something as simple as making a little sign that hangs on a rubber band and putting it on my saddle horns or my bridle rack. Something where when I went to go get the horse and saddle up, I would see it. I could hang one where I have the halters so that if I’m going to do groundwork, I could track that. But what I know is I’m going to have to face the fact that that’s a habit change. And instantly my brain goes, oh, habit. And this is what many of you are experiencing when you think that sounds like too much, I’m going to be overwhelmed. And what I’m inviting you. To think about differently is that maybe conquering this small challenge of learning how to turn on something to track my ride, and knowing I’m going to miss it once, twice, over 100 days? It wouldn’t surprise me if I missed it ten times. But if I commit to doing this new habit and I accept, I’m going to be disappointed if I don’t track one of my rides and another of my rides. If I understand, I am setting myself up to probably make some mistakes, but I commit to learning. This is the secret to understanding yourself better. This is the secret to unlocking the potential that is being blocked because of the rider’s mind. It is literally almost more challenging at times to face the rider’s mind than it is the rider’s fitness level in the body, or even the skill level in the body.

Because if you are allowing that part of your brain that goes, oh, I can’t believe I’m going to sign up to do something else like track my rides. I’m probably going to mess it up. If you allow that to take over, then you’re probably going to allow that to take over in other places and quickly. You won’t understand how much of your own power and decision making you’re giving away to that part of you that just wants to conserve energy. And what’s fascinating is I’m actually already going to be putting out the physical energy. I’m already going to be riding my horse. I think I already ride this much, but I won’t know unless I sign up, and I won’t sign up if I’m not willing to have the experience of making mistakes. So when I start looking at goals as layers, even though January I didn’t even know this Tevis Cup virtual existed, I can immediately see it immediately line up with the fact that it’s going to help my fitness level, my horse’s fitness level. It’s going to encourage me to look in more detail at what I’m already doing. I can quickly make the decision to participate because I’m going to learn either way. Either I’m going to complete it and I’m going to get the t shirt and the metal that I signed up for, or I’m not going to complete it, and I’m going to learn the whole way there.

So, for example, if I forget to track my ride ten times, if I forget to track my rides, remember this is happening over a period of 100 days. If I forget 20 times, if I forget 30 times, if I don’t allow myself to make up a number and fill in the blank, then there’s the potential. I could actually achieve the number of miles but not have tracked it, and so it wouldn’t be achieved in another level. So I’m aware of all of these pitfalls and challenges, and to me that’s when I like to go, huh. Game on. Very cool. Let me learn more about me. This is how I will achieve the goal of learning more in the next four years, because I’ll be willing to sign up for layers of challenges. I also have noticed, and I’m riding the day before the challenge opens. So you’re going to listen to this podcast. If you listen to it, the day that it downloads, you’re going to listen to it the day the challenge opens. And I’ve already learned a lot about myself just by signing up before I even started competing. Between looking at the apps and the tracking and the habits that I’ll want to change, to be able to adjust, to be able to do some of this, and then simple things like, what am I going to do on rainy days? Am I going to finally conquer the raincoat that I need, or whatever else that I need to be able to ride on the rainy days? Or am I going to choose to do that in the arena? My brain is already trying to answer these questions because that’s what happens when you set a goal.

So to recap the reason it was easy for me to make the decision to sign up for the virtual Tevis Cup is that I was able to quickly see how there is not a conflict between doing this and any of my original goals with my horses. I could see the benefits and very little downside. Really, the biggest downside I could possibly come up with is that I don’t complete it, and I made a donation to a nonprofit that helps support an amazing event. If you look at your potential goals and the worst case scenario, if you don’t achieve them and you find that it’s something that simple, I highly recommend signing up for the goal, because every obstacle you encounter will become an opportunity for you to learn more about how you handle obstacles. I just have to say I’m riding the loop that I normally do on Willow, but I decided to go backwards, so I’m riding it in a different direction, and it’s super funny to watch her expression as she sees the trail from a different angle. I enjoy seeing my horses enjoy the scenery. If you would like to join me in participating in this virtual Tevis Cup, you can find the links on my website Stacy Westfall.

Com look for the blog post about the Tevis Cup Virtual, or you can find links that I have posted on social media where I’m doing some updates from out on the trail with Willow. Or you can search for Tevis Cup Virtual and you’ll find their website. If you join from one of the links and you want to be part of my team, then just select participating in a team and answer yes. And then from the drop down menu, look for team Westfall. Whether you choose this goal as another layer to what you’re working on with your horse, or whether you have set other goals and you say, no thanks, I’m going to pass on this, I would highly encourage you to look at the different layers that build up your goal as being the rider’s mind, the rider’s body, the horse’s mind, the horse’s body. And then you can see whether there would be some other fun ways that you could support your main goal with some secondary goals, like I am with Willow. That was a deep spot, wasn’t it? We just crossed through a really deep water spot. That’s what I have for you this week. Thanks for listening and I’ll talk to you again in the next episode. One last thing. I’m already learning more. I just finished my five and a half mile ride and this is my first time using Inquilaab. And now I’ve confirmed that my GPS and Inquilaab are very close.

They’re within a 10th of a mile, if not even closer than that.

Because of when the mileage rolls over on each one of them. So I feel really good that my mileage has been accurate all these years using my Garmin watch. And it’s interesting because I can see a lot more information on Equilab. So I’m very excited to go inside and look at it more. See already learning.

If you enjoy listening to Stacy’s podcast, please visit StacyWestfall.com for articles, videos and tips to help you and your horse succeed.

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