We train others the way we would want to be trained. That means no cookie-cutter lesson plans, no one-size-fits-all exercises, and no preconceived expectations. We don't focus on symptoms. We focus on root causes. We're honest about challenges, but we address them head-on with optimism and creativity.
Bottom Line: Our approach is one-to-one, one hundred percent of the time.
Step One: The Rider
Rider Biomechanics is a hot topic, and it's not just for beginners.
Many FEI level riders have found greater success by understanding their biomechanics -- what is correct versus what they've been "getting by with" -- and learning how to use their bodies more effectively. Stephany is one of only nine accredited "Ride With Your Mind" trainers in the U.S., frequently co-teaches at Mary Wanless' clinics and has students ranging from adult amateurs to FEI riders.
Why utilize biomechanics? Because the responsibility of good training begins with the rider.
As a society, we reward hard work; in Dressage, trying "harder" can often be ineffective. In such cases riders are often left feeling as if they are working far harder than their horses, causing frustration, helplessness and sometimes resentment from both horse and rider. The rider can often create unexpected effects on the horse through a lack of proper muscle use, bad body habits, imbalances in their own body, or a simple lack of knowledge about how to create the request they want with their body.
Biomechanics helps bring each rider into correct balance so he or she can communicate more effectively with the horse and ride harmoniously.
Each lesson begins with an assessment of several key points in your basic position, makes adjustments as necessary, and brings these points into the body of the lesson, where you learn to retain the changes in motion. By using language that is specific to each rider, Stephany helps you form a checklist of "feelages" and phrases that can be taken away from the lesson and used again and again, a phenomenon that is missing in many lesson programs today. These key phrases are reusable after the lesson, along with the feelings that were paired with them during the lesson, to give the rider the ability to retain more of what they learned.
You'll learn how to adjust your position to improve your horse.
Stephany has a singular ability to assess the rider and create changes in their body that offer an immediate reward -- a horse that is more organized and easier to ride. These changes can correct bad habits of a lifetime, may be subtle or dramatic, and can have an equally impressive effect on your horse's movement and mindset. Riding with this approach creates a barometer effect in your horse -- he will let you know quite clearly when you have it right!
Learning is an "ebb and flow" situation.
Creating a vocabulary that will help you remember both feel and instructions after the lesson happens at a different pace for each rider. Lessons conclude with a recap of the day's work so that you retain the key points to take home and practice. As your lessons progress, elements of training the horse are brought in (see step two) to make your horse's mind and body more supple. You learn to be clear and effective with your aids, so the horse gains understanding and confidence in you as his leader.
Put theory into practice at every level.
Stephany helps each rider to utilize biomechanics throughout their training, making lateral work and collection more reachable goals. The confidence that riders achieve is translatable into the competition arena, on the trails or wherever you want to go with your riding. Competition goals can also be discussed, with solid game plans constructed to help your show experiences feel fun and successful at every level.
Step Two: The Horse
Training as unique as your horse.
While dressage training should always help the horse develop increased beauty, suppleness and athleticism at each level, every horse is different. Drawing from her widespread experience with many different breeds, from Irish Draughts to Lusitanos and everything in between, Stephany customizes her training based on each horse's age, conformation, level of training, and background.
Horses are ridden correctly.
The use of exacting rider biomechanics while training her horses makes the training at Serendipity Dressage that much more effective and powerful. It provides for lasting results, as each horse learns to move their body in a more balanced, efficient way when carrying a more balanced and correct rider.
Equine biomechanics at the core.
Understanding the biomechanics of the horse’s body enables Stephany and her team to design a better plan for each horse. For some horses, sending them forward helps them to realize their true gaits and frees them to move more harmoniously. For others, the halt and half steps are a must, as these horses need to learn to wait and power more from behind to reach their potential. Still others need lateral work to help them find their gaits as a means of going forward without rushing.
Variety brings joy and willingness.
Training takes place not only in the dressage arena, but also out on the trails, in the field, and in the jump ring to give the horse experience and confidence in many different surroundings. When your horse is in the Serendipity Dressage program, you can rest assured that the best plan is being followed based on your individual horse -- and your goals for that horse. From starting young horses through the FEI levels, Serendipity horses shine because their training is based on clear education, love, and understanding.
Step Three: Rider & Horse... Together
Bringing it all together.
On the way to establishing a deep, supple seat for the rider, as well as developing the rhythm, relaxation and contact in the horse, we work on the horse and rider as a team. Helping a rider develop a better understanding of his or her horse is the finale of the Serendipity Dressage approach.
As a rider, the responsibility of identifying and correcting a problem begins with you. Recognizing discomfort, pain, or fear is paramount to being a sensitive leader; developing strategies to fix these issues comes from experience. Knowing when to say when is another matter. Horses read their riders, and need to feel that the rider will guide them safely and without drama; knowing how to ride with confidence and decisiveness are some of the many skills we work to develop in each of our riders.
This way, the horse learns to trust the rider, not only to teach the horse, but also to bring the horse to its full potential without pain, fear, or impatience. The end result? Productive and joyous horse/human partnership.