EFT is so powerful for dissolving emotional blocks and letting us do our ‘deep work’ that we may overlook its suitability as a simple relaxation technique to help us achieve peak performance.
I’d like to share a recent example, using EFT with a group of horseback riders who were preparing for a Hunter-Jumper show.
Preparation: An EFT Demo
I met with these riders in a group while they were doing a week-long riding clinic, and gave them a 15-minute introduction to EFT and how to use it. The group was all-female and included youth and adult riders of varying experience and skill levels. Some had received EFT instruction from me before, and others were new to it. A few of them were practicing to ride in a show four days later.
I asked the group for one example of a problem a rider was having in the clinic. One young rider, riding a lesson horse that can be notoriously stubborn, volunteered, “I can’t keep Blue from diving in off the rail” (meaning, trying to trot in to the center of the arena instead of following the fence around.) I asked her how she felt when that happened, and she said “Frustrated.” Excellent example, which I used to teach the group how to tap.
We tapped on “Even though I can’t keep Blue from diving in and it makes me frustrated, I’m a great rider.” Given that there were several youngsters, I chose this closing phrase rather than “I deeply and completely accept myself.” We did not use a Intensity Level (SUDS) to check this statement; I was going for a more generalized, group experience with these riders.
I had everyone check their body sensations after the round, and they each noticed some degree of relaxation.
As the class resumed, I also took a couple of the riders aside to show them how to tap while in the saddle. For horseback riders, EFT is a great modality because they can use it while mounted. (The rider’s safety comes first; the horse needs to be calm and still, the rider needs to have a hand on the reins, and there should also be a person on the ground to give a hand if the horse does become restless.)
While working, I periodically looked for Blue, the problem lesson horse, and noticed that things seemed to be going well.
After about half an hour, I checked in with Blue’s young rider for her perspective, and she reported that she was having no trouble keeping him on the rail. She also jumped him successfully as the class proceeded to practicing their jumps.
I then showed the riders two tapping points for the horses that often produce calm; different horses prefer different points. One point is on the horse’s forehead, roughly where the sworl of hair is, or what we think of the “third eye” spot; the second is on the horse’s upper lip, between the nostrils or about an inch lower (the exact spot depends on the horse, some horses will lip your fingers if you’re too close to the mouth, but will respond well to tapping higher on the nostrils .)
This was all the work I did with these riders in their clinic.
At The Show
Four days later, I attended the show to give a hand with the tapping for those who needed it. Two youth riders and two adult riders used EFT in real-time between rounds, to improve their performance. Each used it while mounted, either with me or with their trainer/instructor. The trainer and I watched the rounds, and worked with the riders on specific elements.
Results from this show:
• Sarah, a youth rider, was nervous in her first class, and it affected her performance and her placing. She had been tapping on generally doing well, but after placing last in the first class, she and her trainer then focused the EFT technique. They narrowed it from working on "generally doing well" in the show to the elements she needed to improve. Sarah went on to win a first place in her more-difficult canter flat class, executing her skills solidly.
• Emma, a youth rider moving up to Maiden Riders Division, wasn’t as relaxed and solid as she needed to be in her first rounds. Her horse refused a fence, and rushed a few others, due to Emma’s nervousness on the more challenging course. Her trainer zeroed in on her two-point position, (the position a rider takes when going over a fence) and told Emma that she was not getting into two-point which was affecting her jumping. Before her last class, Emma and I tapped two rounds specifically on her two-point position; in her last class, her two-point position was solid and her jumps were clean. She won Reserve Champion for the division, and the judge specifically complimented her two-point position in the last round.
• Helen, an adult beginning rider riding in her first show, placed last in her first class, struggling with an understandable case of nerves. To add to Helen’s challenges at her first show, she is from Russia and has only been in the US a short time. Her inexperience on horseback, language barriers, and show nerves gave her a lot to overcome. Between her first and second round she used her EFT skills, conquered her nerves, and finished 3d in the most challenging class of her division, the ridden pattern equitation class.
• The judge’s comment to the trainer/instructor on these riders: “All of your students’ rides got better as they went along.” This is significant because riders and/or horses often become tired as the show goes on. Either the rider or the horse, or both, are likely to become less organized and less focused toward the end of the day than they were at the beginning. To see a consistent pattern of improvement among a group of riders of different ages is rare, and a significant outcome.
• The trainer commented that EFT kept all her riders focused.
• Each of the EFT rounds used during the show was done in less than five minutes, while the riders were mounted. The riders had fun using their tapping skills!
There are several significant takeaways for amateur competition from this example:
• EFT was taught mechanically, and applied only to executing specific skills
• We did not work on any emotional issues, and we narrowly defined our desired outcomes: “Keeping Blue on the rail”, or “Improving my two-point”
• At the show, we kept the rounds short and we kept them fun
• Their trainer/instructor reinforced this tool, tapping with them or asking me to do so, and encouraging them to tap with each other. This helps give it credibility to the rider, who can then use it openly and with the assistance of teammates as part of her tool-kit
• Although the riders themselves knew they improved, the results and judge’s comments also provided an objective measure of how the EFT had helped
An added bonus for riders is that horses look for coherence in humans; that is, when biological systems such as brainwaves and heart rhythms become regular and synchronized. This gives a focused and relaxed energy that the horse, a prey animal expert at picking up on energy states, responds to. The horse can then also relax and access its own skills, and the team of horse and rider reinforces one another positively.
Thus, the use of EFT with easily-quantifiable goals and a focus on relaxation and skill-execution helps both horse and rider.
These results can be generalized to any sport or hobby. For amateur competitors, the relaxing and focusing aspects of EFT may be all they need to allow them to access the skills they have practiced at home and accomplish their goals.
Ange Dickson Finn is an EFT International Accredited Certified EFT Advanced Practitioner. She is based in Houston, Texas, USA, and works with clients over the phone and via Skype. Ange has helped clients with issues including physical pain, health and well-being, work-related stress, equestrian sports and relationships. Visit her on the web at www.TapIntoYourself.com or www.RideWithoutFear.com.
From the EFTfree Archives, which are now a part of EFT International .
Originally published on May 1, 2011.