Sydney grew up in Ellicott City, MD with parents who were not horse people, but were very supportive of their daughter’s interest in horses and eventually learned to really enjoy horses themselves. Sydney’s start in horses began at age 5, when she began taking riding lessons. It was a gentle hobby at the start, with just once a week lessons, mostly due to the fact that the farm was a 30 minute drive from Sydney’s home. It wasn’t long, however, before Sydney began begging and pleading to double her time at the barn and her weekly lessons became twice a week lessons.
After a few years, it was clear that Sydney’s love for horses was not fading, and her parents bought her a four year old, ¾ thoroughbred, ¼ percheron named Bella. Since Sydney was only eight years old at the time, Bella’s greenness and young age presented its share of issues, but the entire family loved their new horse nonetheless. At this time, Sydney knew nothing about eventing, but enjoyed participating in local 4H and hunter shows whenever she could.
One autumn day, Sydney’s trainer, Ashley Beheler, took a group of young riders to watch the Fair Hill International Three-Day Event in Fair Hill, MD. Sydney came home from that weekend totally inspired and sure of what she wanted to do – she had her sights set on becoming an event rider. From there, Ashley began laying the foundation for Sydney and her group of friends to kick off their eventing careers, starting with teaching a solid foundation including the care of an event horse, and continuing through the technicalities of riding the three different disciplines. Although Sydney had a newfound passion for the sport of eventing, Bella wanted nothing to do with it. Sydney entered several events with Bella, but unfortunately wasn’t able to complete a single one. Luckily, Sydney’s mom had an older lesson horse, “Sounds of Thunder”, who would ultimately end up giving Sydney her first taste of success in the sport, allowing her to compete through the Beginner Novice Level under Ashley's guidance.
Sydney then began pouring herself into searching the internet for a more suitable horse, but her parents were adamant that they were not going to buy “one of those fancy horses”. Again undeterred, Sydney had the brilliant idea to convince her parents to give up just one semester’s college savings in order to invest in a more suitable horse. Shortly thereafter, her horse search lead Sydney and her parents to True Prospect Farm, owned by Phillip Dutton, where Boyd Martin was also based at the time. Boyd had a mare for sale, Lillian Pink, who became Sydney’s first true event horse.
After a few years of eventing Lillian Pink, moving from Beginner Novice to Training level, Lillian Heard, who had known Lillian Pink from her time working with Boyd Martin, took a job as the trainer at nearby Bascule Farm in Poolesville, MD. Sydney had always really looked up to Lillian as a role model, and began training with her as a working student.
Lillian Pink was going really well at this point and Lillian began asking Sydney if her parents would buy her another horse to further develop her skills as a rider. Sydney was sure they would not, but mentioned to Lillian that she did have another horse just sitting at home. That horse was Bella, and despite the mare’s previous abhorrence with eventing, Lillian persuaded Sydney to bring her to a lesson just to see what she was like. Under Lillian’s tutelage, Bella had a second chance at eventing and Sydney competed her through the preliminary level.
Sydney credits the intense, grueling experience of being a working student to really opening her eyes to what it truly takes to be a professional eventer. Following that period, Sydney says that if you would have asked her if she still wanted to follow this career path, she honestly would have said that she didn’t know if she had it in her!
Sydney had always considered college, but just as she was nearing college age, Lillian Pink had to be put down following a tragic accident in her stall. While some may have decided this heartbreaking event made it easier to choose the college path, it was at this time that Sydney realized she really loved the sport and the eventing life, even despite the inevitable hardships that came with it, and she felt that she owed it to Lillian Pink to continue on.
In lieu of college, Lillian helped set Sydney up with a working student position with Phillip Dutton at True Prospect Farm. Shortly thereafter, Sydney got a call from Lillian Pink’s breeder, Laurie Cameron, asking if Sydney would help ride another one of her horses, Early Review C. Early Review C immediately reminded Sydney of Lillian Pink, so she was absolutely thrilled to have this new horse to ride under the guidance of Phillip.
After two years as a working student for Phillip, he downsized his program, thus sending Sydney and a few of his other riders out on their own. Luckily, he was able to offer dry stalls to rent at his farm, and Sydney is still there today, running her business out of True Prospect Farm in West Grove, PA (with winters in Ocala, FL). She enjoys being in the heart of eventing country, with many 5* eventers within a short radius to go to for training and support. She currently rides with both Phillip and Lillian as she continues to progress her skills as a rider.
As Sydney continues to grow her business, she has found that she has a true love for teaching and hopes to welcome more students into her program in the coming years. With a caring, empathetic personality and a drive to see her students develop strong basics in order to succeed as they move up the levels, Sydney offers the type of personalized lessons that are a rarity in today’s world.
True Prospect Farm - West Grove, PA