From Endurance to Dressage
My lessons with Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage, just keep getting better and better. I am so grateful that our paths crossed when they did. I've only been involved in this sport for about twelve years, so I can't be certain, but I suspect that the rider/trainer relationship has a shelf life. I know that as a classroom teacher, I only have so much to teach a student before they need to move on.
Over the years, particularly when I taught kindergarten, parents would want their little ones to repeat kindergarten only if they could do it with me. I always agreed, but I often wondered if that was what was best for the child. One year, I moved from fourth to fifth grade which meant a third of my class needed to make the move with me. Even though I had new material to teach, I questioned whether it might be better for those kiddos to have the opportunity to learn from someone else.
Last month I wrote a post about all the trainers I've worked with. I think I am a better rider for having been able to work with so many types of teachers. Is it possible to stay with the same trainer or coach forever? Probably. Should we? I don't think so, but I haven't been around long enough to really know the answer to that. Meeting Sean when I did probably happened because I was ready for something different.
Each week he continues to challenges my comfort zone. His coaching always serves to remind me that I have so much more to learn. When I rode on Sunday, my day to video my rides, a long list of remember to do's streamed through my mind: maintain the tempo, be elastic in your elbows, move him around, ask questions, push your hands forward, and on and on.
Sean has expanded my toolbox so much that I can now group my tools. I have suppling tools, add more power tools, build confidence tools, and even a few finessing tools. My weekly video, while still painful to watch, affirms week after week that it all continues to come together.
My ride was so productive on Sunday that I started to rethink my 2022 show schedule. Sean and I both agreed that Izzy just wasn't ready to go back to a USDF show this spring. He wasn't "ready" last year either, but last year was about figuring out where the gaps were and trying to fix them. We didn't, but we formulated a new plan and worked on what we could over the winter.
My local CDS Chapter holds a summer series of small, CDS-rated shows. I hadn't planned on doing any of them because my focus is on USDF shows, but I called Sean after I rode on Sunday and asked what he thought. A good friend will be showing as well. Sean thinks it's a great way to see where Izzy is as far as being able to remain rideable at a show. To make it even better, Sean offered to coach us both virtually using either the Pivo Cast app or maybe even Facebook's Messenger Video Chat feature. So, we may be headed to a show much soon than I had originally thought.
There's no way to know if Izzy is ready unless I try.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: