From Endurance to Dressage
Let's be real for a minute; showing is hard. At times, it can also be pretty stressful. Even Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester have grooms and other support personnel. How many of us show completely on our own without the extra help? I know I have, many times.
Sean Cunningham, besides being the owner and trainer at STC Dressage, is always looking for ways to meet the needs of riders, both those in his own training program (like me!) and those who might be doing the whole showing thing on their own. At every single show we've done this year, I've seen him step up and offer his expertise to any rider who has asked. At the last show we did, he even helped a friend of a friend of a friend put together a double bridle at the last second when hers left with the trainer. Sean is really invested in this sport, and he feels a need to contribute as a trainer, rider, and sponsor. That's not a combination you see every day.
With shows finally returning after such a long hiatus, Sean approached one show manager in particular and asked what he could do to sponsor her shows. Jen Nunes manages nearly a dozen USDF shows throughout the summer along with a number of schooling shows. Her shows are wildly popular because they're so organized, and she makes everything fun. It's not easy though, and the extra help is always appreciated. Sean started out by sponsoring the morning doughnuts, something every rider loves. Never one to rest on his laurels, he then offered to sponsor free lunches for the riders.
At last weekend's El Sueño show, Sean had the brilliant idea of creating a station where riders could "borrow" those last minute items that they'd forgotten or lost. Here's how he described it:
Sean is a long time competitor himself. He knows what it's like to be in the warmup when you suddenly discover you've forgotten your number. Or had a zipper blow out. Or realize you're dying of thirst. Frankly, there are about 10,001 things you can forget once you're in the warmup, and if you're on your own, there is often not a lot you can do about it.
Social media exploded this week as riders shared their experiences with the OSS. Many others jumped in with special requests, all of which Sean is feverishly working to procure before tomorrow's show at Southern California Equestrian Center.
Sean will be there coaching me along with others. Feel free to track him down and let him know how you feel about the early morning doughnuts or what item you found helpful in his "Oh, Shoot!" Station. I think he's still taking requests.
And if you just want to meet him and talk horses, he'll be glad to take a minute to do that, too.
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
*** SCEC 10/15-16/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%