From Endurance to Dressage
I finally did it; Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage, was able to give me a lesson using Pivo Meet. Since I was at STC Dressage for the weekend, we used the time to do a virtual lesson, in person. Sean takes a weekly lesson from David Hunt who is currently serving on the Judges Supervisory Panel in Tokyo for the Olympic Games. Since David lives in England, Sean uses a Pixio and Cee Coach communication system while David coaches from his computer. They have found the system to be more than adequate, and as a result, Sean is getting great coaching from a world renowned trainer who's working an entire continent away.
It was Sean who first suggested we try something similar. Right now, I am able to make the nearly six hour round trip to STC Dressage every ten days or so, but once I return to teaching in mid-August, I won't be able to do that drive as frequently. If we can make the Pivo Meet work reliably, I could take a weekly lesson instead of going to his barn only once or twice a month. During the four months that Sean and I have been working together, we've developed a sufficiently solid working relationship that we both feel comfortable working together from separate counties.
Before we could do the lessons virtually, I had to find some earbuds that could work over Wi-Fi without losing the connection. Pivo Meet is a lot like a Zoom meeting. We can each see and hear each other, but since I am riding, I can't see Sean which means I need to wear earbuds that are synced to my phone. When I first researched the different options out there, price was influencing my decision more than anything else. Once I got serious about doing lessons using Pivo Meet, I decided I should use a better set of criteria in making my selection.
After reviewing a lot of different earbuds, I bought the Powerbeats Wireless Earbuds from Amazon. While not cheap at $99, they have more than 10,500 reviews, and 89% of them are positive. I decided to go with wireless with wires - who came up with that description?, as opposed to truly wireless because I didn't want to accidentally drop and lose one.
To my surprise, these little dudes are fabulous. The sound quality was exceptional, and never once did Sean and I lose communication. He plugged his headphones directly into my laptop which helped him hear me better over the wind. I attached my phone and Pivo at the C end of the arena, and Sean sat at a table on a raised platform (see photo above) behind the Pivo. The Powerbeats earbuds paired instantly with my iPhone, and even down at the A end of the arena, we could hear each other clearly.
I worried that the earbuds might glitch as the controls are located on the flat panel that bears the "b" logo which rest immediately under the straps of my helmet. Nope. Once I had the power on and the volume set, I put on my helmet and never once needed to touch the earbuds. They were comfortable right out of the box - they come with three extra ear pieces of varying sizes, and in fact, I forgot I even had them on.
As great as Pivo is, it's not perfect. When I would forget and ride too close to it, it would lose me, but Sean reported that it immediately un-zoomed itself, looking for me. He was able to control the Pivo from the laptop, so he could remotely track me if needed. Once he assumed control however, it no longer tracked me automatically. He played around with that feature for a bit just so he would understand its limitations and functionality while we were both in the same "room." Overall, he felt like it gave him a good enough picture of what I was doing for him to coach me.
The set up did take some time, but I only practiced twice, once a few months ago, and once an hour or so before this lesson. The steps were pretty easy to follow, and I even forgot to do a few things like close all ten billion open apps on my phone. Even so, it worked pretty smoothly. I did write about Pivo Meet once before, so I used that post as my tutorial.
For this dress rehearsal, these are the steps I followed:
One successful experience doesn't mean we have the process perfected, but Sean is happy to give it a try. Since it will save me so much time and money (diesel is expensive), I am definitely looking forward to trying it for "real" next week. Unless we're in the Pivo Meet, we won't be able to hear one another if there is a problem, but I think once we have Pivo Meet open, Sean is tech savvy enough to get Pivo at least pointed in the right direction. And luckily for me, he's a sharp enough trainer that he can see a whole lot with even just a glimpse of Izzy's body. Mine too for that matter. My next lesson is on the 29th, and we're going to give it a try. I'll let you know how it goes.
For what I'll save in fuel over the next three lessons, Pivo will pay for itself and the Powerbeats. I am all in!
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 Second Level. 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%
2021 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2022 Pending …
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
4/10-11 SCEC (***)
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
6/26-27 SCEC (***)
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
8/7-8 SCEC (***)
10/30-31 SCEC (***)
2021 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2nd Level Qualifying
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 60.610% Bhathal
2nd Level Qualifying
5 Scores/4 Judges/61%:
Stuff I Read