Now based out of Moorpark, California, about an hour northwest of Los Angeles, I originally founded STC Dressage in early 2008 in Albuquerque, NM. The mission was, and still is, to provide world-class dressage training and teaching for horse and rider. During the operations in New Mexico, my students and I brought home more championship titles and national awards than any other training team in the state. In November of 2011, I relocated STC Dressage to southern California, where I have been hard at work to carry on the same tradition of excellence. You can also learn more about us in an article published in the April 2011 issue of Sidelines!
Sean Cunningham, Owner & Head Trainer
My vast experience includes training horses to upper levels, handling young horses and overall equine management. I have been riding for over 20 years and have worked at some the country’s top sport horse facilities with international-level trainers.
My formative riding years began as any other young aspiring trainer-to-be; riding, taking lessons, mucking stalls, doing things I wouldn’t dream of doing on horseback these days! Kid stuff, really. But important nonetheless. It helped develop a deep-seated passion that continues to drive me to this day; A love for horses and animals in general. A desire to learn anything and everything I can about them. I spent my first few years in the horse industry under the tutelage of June Pedersen of Castle Ridge Keep in my hometown of Crystal Lake, IL. She helped plant the seeds that would someday grow me into the horseman I am today, as well as the one I continue aspiring to be.
My professional equestrian career began in 1999, when I was accepted as a working student at the prestigious Tempel Farms in Illinois during my summer breaks from college. There, I was immersed full-time into advanced dressage training. I worked closely with my trainer, Bill Clements, learning everything from breeding to starting young horses under saddle all the way up to the movements of the Grand Prix and the Airs Above The Ground. Upon graduation from college in 2002, seeking to continue my education into the world of high-performance dressage, I took a working student position for Lendon Gray in New York.
While at Lendon’s, I continued to expand my horizons. I was involved in all aspects of the care, management and training of competition dressage horses from the ground up. I learned the importance of having a proper support staff of grooms, farriers, vets, etc. as well as developing relationships with people such as show managers, horse transports, local GMO leaders and the like.
After my time at Gray’s, in 2004 I took the position of sales manager at Iron Spring Farm, one of the country’s top sport horse breeding facilities. At Iron Spring, I brought young horses through the levels, and showed them both under saddle and in hand. I developed my eye for looking at young dressage horses, and enhanced my understanding of how to make quality breeding choices. I was honored to play a role in Iron Spring’s repeated success at Dressage at Devon.
After moving to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2007, I returned to Devon again for Horses Unlimited, a sport horse breeding and training facility in central New Mexico. I won the mature stallion class at Devon with Wild Dance and along with our team, secured many other top placings at the prestigious show that year. With their top quality horses, I was able to make a pretty big splash in the local competition scene right off the bat too.
Still, I desired to start building the training barn I knew I was destined to. In 2008, I finally made the decision to strike out on my own. I rode and competed for Paradigm Sporthorse Farm, Camelot Friesans, and various other private clients in the Albuquerque metro area. Collectively, we won an impressive number of High Point, Show Championship, Breed Championship, Regional Championship and various national awards. As much success as we were having, and as difficult as it was to leave my clients and friends there after we had done so much together, I knew I needed to be more in the middle of the action to accomplish my goals. We were just too isolated in New Mexico to access the level of training and competition that I knew was necessary. So, with the help and support of Hilda Gurney, I moved to California in 2011.
The main thing that made it possible was Wendy Gray-Bizzaro offering me a job at her Gray-Barron Ranch in Chatsworth, CA. They had earned an astounding number of awards and accolades with their home-bred Morgans, and I was humbled to have the chance to help continue that trend! I also spent my afternoons at Hilda’s Keenridge Farm for two years. There, I continued to develop my eye for quality young horses, improve my riding and training abilities, and overall strove to improve my knowledge as a horseman. My desire to run my own training center remained strong though, and after locating the perfect place, I signed a lease at AA Ranch, and began building a clientele.
I invite you to come and visit our training center at the tranquil and stunningly beautiful AA Ranch in Moorpark, CA. It’s a quiet and private farm that is an ideal setting to develop top quality competition horses and riders. I welcome horses and riders of all levels, especially those who have a strong desire to learn.
To learn more or to schedule a visit, contact me!