InMotion Network, holds its bi-annual intake of the Education Grant 'Take the Lead', in April and October. With many successful coaching certification stories, one such remarkable story is of Kimberly Cox. She tells her own story:
"Thanks to the financial support of the InMotion Network I am the first candidate in the province of Alberta to achieve a Competition Coach Specialist Dressage designation. This accreditation is certified by Equine Canada and the Coaching Association of Canada, and is administered by the Alberta Equestrian Federation.
The process involved reaching or exceeding all certification outcomes. Some of these outcomes are theory based; others were assessed in person. My evaluators, as chosen by Equine Canada, were Dale Irwin and Maureen Walters.
I developed a Year Training Plan (YTP) to support the progress of the human and equine athletes. The riders were assessed according to the Long Term Equestrian Development (LTED) model and the horses were trained following the Dressage Scale of Training as specified by the United States Dressage Federation. Exercises are then developed to address issues in training. The YTP is a flexible model that accommodates differences in athletes. It also includes adjunct training such as weight training, Pilates, and yoga to improve rider fitness. The YTP includes an enhanced equine health regimen including dental and veterinary care, massage, chiropractic adjustments, saddle fit, and farriery. The YTP is divided into phases in the competition year with attention to rest and recovery cycles for both horse and rider. The YTP is part of the written work submitted to the evaluators before the practical examination. Planning for the coaching of riders and training of their horses encompass Outcomes One and Two: Designing and Managing an Equestrian Sports Program.
My evaluators observed my preparation and warm up of a Fourth Level student competing at a recent Calgary Area National Level Gold Show. The quality of the warm up for both the horse and rider was assessed. The goal of the warm-up is to achieve suppleness and harmony between the human and equine athletes. The competition coach’s task is to support both athletes and maximize their performance. The coach’s role includes managing logistics and ensuring that the rider and horse are free of pre-test distractions maintaining a relaxed mental state. It also includes supervising hydration breaks, timing of the warm up, and coordinating with the ring-steward for the order of go. This portion of the evaluation is an element of Outcome Three: Supporting and Training Mental Skills for Equine Sport.
The result of a successful warm up is a successful test. It is the responsibility of the coach to debrief the athlete following the test in a supportive and constructive manner no matter where the athlete places in the class. The effectiveness of the debriefing was assessed in Outcome Four: Analyze Performance in Competition.
My lesson delivery evaluation was held at Black Whiskey Ranch after the competition element was completed. I prepared and taught four separate lessons to four horse/rider combinations on topics chosen by the evaluators. The lesson topics were: teaching a student to improve their horse through longing (working a horse on a long line on a circle), improving the half- halt, refining the half-pass, and riding balanced10 m circles accurately. In one of the prepared lessons the evaluators asked me to switch my lesson focus to improve a rider’s equitation in order to assess my adaptive management skills. This portion of the coaching evaluation fulfilled Evaluation Step Two: Support Athletes in Training- Practical Evaluation.
Kimberly Cox, featured on Alberta Equestrian Fedration magazine, Fall 2015.
I utilized my knowledge as a physical education teacher, high school coach, and competitive equestrian to formulate successful Year Training Plans for riders and their horses. I can appreciate the importance of planning for progress and success as an athlete and coach. As an equestrian I know the skill and effort required to bring a horse along in training. The effect of a correct and effective dressage training program is harmony between horse and rider. This harmonious relationship between horse and rider is paramount to their competitive success."
You can read further about her story here.