Intercollegiate Dressage Coaching Here I Come!
Back in the summer on the way to one of the local shows I happened to car-pool with Bailey, the team captain of the University of North Carolina, Charlotte's Intercollegiate Hunt Seat Association team. Wow, that's a mouthful - UNCC IHSA for short. Anyway, we got to talking and I casually asked if they also had an intercollegiate dressage team. Turned out they didn't. So, in kind of a half serious, half joking manner I said, "I'll coach a dressage team for them."
Fast forward a few weeks and I'm told that they had formed a dressage team and that I was the coach. Awesome, nervous, excited… WHAT??? Were just a few thoughts that ran through my head.
Knowing absolutely nothing what-so-ever about Intercollegiate Dressage I attended the team meeting along with the hunt seat coach. I met some of the riders and was happy to know that Blair had ridden on an IDA team before. She had also volunteered to be the team captain. Things started to fall into place.
The team consisted of Blair, Iman, Taylor, Cody, and MacKenzie. Lessons started early September. My first task was deciding which level each rider should ride. Not being familiar with the running of an IDA team and not knowing what the competition was going to be like it was not an easy task but I knew the tests they would have to ride so I based it on that. Blair had ridden Introductory before and hadn't earned enough points to move up so that one was easy. Cody and MacKenzie were both competent riders but also riding on the hunt seat team which meant I would only teach them every other week. It's difficult undoing a forward seat in just sixty minute once a fortnight. So, Cody went into Intermediate with Blair and MacKenzie into Lower Training. Iman is originally from Germany and had ridden dressage before so she slotted nicely into Lower Training and so did Taylor. Our team was set… until Blair told me that we needed to have at least one Upper Training Level rider also. Taylor was the most 'aggressive' of my Lower Training riders so I bumped her up, without telling her I will add. She took the move very casually, thankfully.
Lessons consisted of a combination of basic equitation and riding position improvements and fine tuning the movements in the tests. We rotated between the horses available to us and developed a weekly routine. I saw huge improvements in no time at all. Blair and Taylor practiced at our own Introduction To Dressage Show and we began to get excited as the first show official Intercollegiate Dressage show drew closer.