An Early Start in Dressage - Dylan Phillips and Rusty


Eliza Syndor is currently competing at the FEI level with Graffini Grace as well as focussing on her specialty training young horses. Looks like she's developed a skill for young riders as well! MPH
Dylan Philipps might be smaller and younger than most dressage competitors, but she is no less determined or focused. Dylan and her pony, Rusty, began competing in dressage last year, when Dylan was just 6 years old. Rusty is a 14 year old Shetland Pony gelding, standing 10.2 hands. The pair began taking dressage lessons from me in early 2010. Dylan’s mother, Meredith Philipps, was a student of my mother’s years ago, and has been riding with me for many years now. Meredith came to me one day and said, “Would you be willing to teach Dylan? I just can’t get through to her!”

Although I don’t normally work with such young children, I began to help the then 5 year old Dylan on a weekly basis. We have great fun, working on ring figures, practicing vaulting moves, and cantering in her family’s hay field. Rusty is the most perfect pony you could possibly ask for. He is sensitive enough to listen to Dylan’s little legs, but he is always safe and kind. He’s not pushy or mouthy on the ground, and she is able to do all the work with him herself – although she does talk her mom into helping an awful lot! It’s such a joy to see such a young child and such a small pony enjoying dressage and learning to communicate with each other in a kind and harmonious way. I am so grateful to Rusty for giving Dylan such a fabulous start to her riding. He has given her confidence, taught her to be balanced and gentle with her aids, and ignited a passion in her for riding. If she keeps this up, you’ll all have to watch out for her in the FEI arena before too long!

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Eliza Sydnor is a classically trained dressage FEI rider, trainer and instructor. She has trained with her mother Cindy Sydnor a popular dressage trainer and judge located in North Carolina who was long listed for the USET 1976-1979, Jennifer and Beth Baumert, Lelo Fore and Klaus Balkenhol. She currently trains extensively with USEF Young Horse coach Scott Hassler perfecting her specialty; working with young horses. Eliza has started over 30 young dressage horses, training three for the FEI Young Horse Tests, and was selected five times to participate in the Young Horse Dressage trainers’ Symposium. She is also currently competing at the FEI level with Gaffini Grace, a horse she trained from the start. Eliza has contributed over the years to DressageDaily.




Dylan Philipps Dressage Test #2

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