As for my goals, well I started out just thrilled to be able to ride at all as it had been a childhood dream. I didn't care at all if it was even English or Western and it just so happened that the coach I met happened to be an English hunter/jumper coach. Now as I've gotten more into it, I'm wanting to get into it more and more and I'm realizing I really like the idea of dressage (also because jumping scares me), but I've not gotten so far as to make actual goals. I've not really even thought about it like that yet - I'm still just thrilled to be riding at all; however, now that you have me thinking about it, I would love to do more than 'just' ride. I'm definitely perfectly capable of basic riding at this point (even if my trainer was implying otherwise!) so don't need lessons for that anymore, but if I were to really allow myself to 'dream' (lol), I think I'd go as far as I could in the dressage world. Unfortunately that's not very far for me financially-wise (too bad it's such a crazy expensive sport!), but I'd love to see how far I could go with it anyway. Thanks for bringing that part of it up as well. Very good point to keep in mind.
First, you can be an amazing natural rider with skills to compete with the best, and not ever show. You don't have to show if you don't want to. And not showing doesn't mean you aren't a good rider! So you can be as awesome at dressage as you can be with a goal of, say, never falling off. Or, learning one advanced skill a month. Whatever it is, it just has to be fun. If you're not having fun, whats the point of showing anyway?
Second, there are tons of open shows out there that are cost effective and laid back. I know Ive seen a few dressage shows in my area that weren't super high rated or anything. Im sure your coach would be willing to do those with you. And if not, if she only takes students to rated stuff, well, then you pass on that one. No big deal.
Just a funny story.... I was saying how every trainer is different, and that one thing is not right or wrong, everyone just does things differently. I was explaining this to my bf one day, that some coaches say leg back and some say at the girth. Some might have you lean more back and some more forward, its not right or wrong, there are just ways that I would do it over others. None of it is "fundamentally" wrong..... Then one day, I heard a trainer, who was getting a pretty good penny an hour from her students tell her class that, "In Western riding you must use your leg to drive the horse forward. But, in English riding, you dont use your legs at all. In English, you just use your hands to stear."
Hahahahaha, what?!?!? I looked at my bf and was like, OK. Now THAT is fundamentally wrong!
Just a funny story I had to share. Until you are hearing things like that, things that make you sit on your horse and say to yourself, "that made no sense," you are doing just fine with both your coaches. Learn what you can from each.