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.
I get this so much more often than I used to.
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.