Sydney Langley Shares Her Experience at The Atlanta Youth Festival

Thursday, October 14, 2021
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The Atlanta Youth Festival took place on September 19th at the Georgia International Horse Park, site of the 1996 Olympics. Hosted by GDCTA and Liz Molloy. The Atlanta Youth Festival welcomed 25 youth riders to compete in a three-phase competition including a written test, dressage test, and equitation ride.

The Atlanta Youth Festival was preceded by a 2-day Dressage4Kids TEAM Clinic taught by Lendon Gray, Rachel Chowanec-Kaney and Jos Sevriens.

For more photos, results and info click here

Learning, Fun and Competition

Sydney Langley, who tied for High Point on the written test, shares her experiences:

I had a wonderful experience at The Atlanta Youth Dressage Festival with Lendon Gray and Dressage 4 Kids. I learned so much throughout the weekend and am looking forward to returning next year.

In my first lesson, Lendon and I worked to achieve a higher degree of collection in my horse, a ten-year-old Perchron Cross by the name of Darby. We worked on lifting his withers and having more sit through his hindquarters to allow him to achieve more lift. One of the extremely useful exercises we did was to push him forward to a medium trot between two letters and then between the next two letters almost walk to get him to understand my seat aids better. Another exercise we did was halt, rein back, and immediately trot to help him become sharper to my aids. 

Learning How to Learn - Then Be On her Own

In my second lesson, we continued the work we had accomplished in the previous lesson. We used some of the same exercises but also introduced some new ones to build on. We started with cantering on a circle in a working canter and then we did one stride collected with a large emphasis on the release of the half halt. “A half-halt is only a half-halt after the release.” This exercise allowed me to get a feeling for the collection without over-phasing my horse. 

Homework and Tests

Continuing on from my lessons, I am working at home to achieve collection over a longer period of time such as two or three strides in the trot and canter. These exercises will continue to get better the stronger he gets.

After our two lessons, we also competed in the Atlanta Youth Dressage Festival on Sunday. First, at 8:00 AM we took our written test. For my written test I had to read two books, Know Better to Do Better by Denny Emerson and The Essential Hoof Book by Christina Cline and Susan Kauffman.  I scored 97% on my written test and tied for the highest written test score. I then competed in my dressage test where I did 2nd level test 2 for a score of 63%. I placed second in my division of 2nd and 3rd level riders. Then we went on to our equation test where I placed 3rd against some very competitive riders. 

I want to thank Lendon for being the main instructor for the weekend and creating such a wonderful organization, Elizabeth Molloy for organizing a wonderful event, and to all the volunteers that helped the event run smoothly. 


  • Overall High Point Rider - Caitlyn Massey
  • High Point Written Test (Tie) - Sydney Langley & Savannah Purcell
  • High Point Dressage Test - Sophie McChesney
  • High Point Equitation - Caitlyn Massey
  • High Point Pony Club - Sydney Langley
  • High Point Pony Rider Champion - Briana Margin
  • High Point Pony Rider Reserve Champion - Maya Karson
  • Baroque Award - Alice Burley

More Participants and What They Said

"It is always such a pleasure to ride with Lendon and to watch and learn from the other riders. It had been four years since I had ridden with Lendon and for her to see how far I had come from just barely third level to now schooling the U25 was really fun! The TEAM clinics are always fun to attend!" - Suzannah Rogers 

"Habibi and I had two very educational and exciting lessons, one with Jos Sevriens and one with Lendon Gray. Both lessons provided us with thoughtful and helpful feedback. We appreciate D4K because of its quality instruction in and out of the saddle. I would also like to say thank you to all the sponsors, to the Georgia International Horse Park, and to Miss Liz Molloy for making all this possible." - Uma Kraskin

Hosted by GDCTA and Liz Molloy, The Atlanta Youth Festival was sponsored by The Atlanta Youth Dressage Challenge, GDCTA, Dressage4Kids, Dover Saddlery, County Saddlery, Janie Pride, the National Dressage Pony Cup, and Wilson Custom Horse Products, the