Home News-Free Benton’s Sydney Elliott continues to make her mark in equestrian sports

Benton’s Sydney Elliott continues to make her mark in equestrian sports

Sydney Elliot is shown jumping astride Cisko A during 2016's Four Star Kentucky Three-Day Event. (Courtesy of Jim Noetzel)

By Russell Hedges and Stacey Tinsley, Bossier Press-Tribune

Sydney Elliott of Benton and three other members of the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team finished second in the International Federation of Equestrian Sports (FEI) Eventing Nations Cup™ event which was recently held at Enschede in The Netherlands.

Elliott, Tamie Smith (Murrieta, Calif.), Jennie Brannigan (West Grove, Pa.) and Matt Flynn (Ocala, Fla.) earned the silver medal with a total score of 102.7 after three phases.

Great Britain won the gold medal with a 90.4 (low score wins). Germany took the bronze with a 127.7. The event closed out the team competition for the season.

According to the FEI website, “eventing is a combination of cross country, jumping and dressage, often known as the Triathlon of the equestrian world. A truly complete sport that tests horse and rider in all aspects of horsemanship and one of the 3 Olympic disciplines.”

Elliott and QC Diamantaire, an 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Carol Stephens, were competing for the second time in Europe this fall for the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team. They received a 26.7 from the judging panel to place them just outside of the top ten after the first day of competition.

In the Cross-Country phase, Elliott and QC Diamantaire made good on their goal to hit the optimum time and crossed through the finish with no faults added to their dressage score, keeping them on a 26.7.

Elliott and QC Diamanatire finished in fifth overall, after dropping a single rail during their stadium round for a final score of 30.7.

Elliott said the team’s overall energy and camaraderie played a huge factor in their performance and the learnings she will take away from her first senior team tour with the program will be hugely beneficial for the future.

Elliott and Smith were both a part of the silver-medal winning team at an event in Aachen, Germany, just a few weeks prior to the Netherlands event. She noted that their podium finish in Germany motivated them even more to deliver once again.

“I felt going in that we need to be there on the podium,” she explained in a U.S. Equestrian Communications Department press release. “I don’t think it’s a surprise, but at least my thoughts going into this week were that we deserve to be there, and we ride as well as anyone else, and there’s no reason for us to not be on the podium,” said Elliott.

According to Elliott, “That mentality really pushed us throughout the week. I expected us to be there, and I know things can happen that are unexpected or unplanned, but to me, there’s no reason for us to not be a top-three team at the end of a weekend like this, so it’s really great to see the progress and hopefully the energy and excitement we fostered with each other over the past few weeks will carry on into next year too.”

Elliott is the owner and manager Elliott Eventing, LLC, a 10-acre equestrian facility located near Holly Hill Farm in Benton.

According to the Holly Hill Farm website, “Sydney enjoys starting young horses and educating them throughout their careers, whether its eventing, dressage or jumping.”

Elliott, 36, has close to 30 years of equestrian experience. She travels extensively, competing in both spring and fall events.

Elliott made her debut at the CCI5*-L level in 2016 when she completed the Rolex 30 Three-Day Event with Cisko A.

Concours Complet International (CCI) is the competition rating for eventing. In FEC-recognized competition, 5* is the highest rating. The recent event in The Netherlands was a 4*.

With QC Diamantire, she has recorded Top-10 finishes in several major events both in 2019 and for this year.

The worldwide competitions and running her business keeps her very busy.

“I’m so fortunate that I can do what I love to do,” she said in a 2013 story in The Chronicle of the Horse.

According to the story, she started riding at Holly Hill at age 6, beginning a lifelong relationship with owners Robert and Tracy Hewlett.

“The Hewlett’s have been extended family from the very beginning. They created a wonderful facility that has grown over the years to host a recognized event every spring and fall since the 90’s. Such a special place to start my riding career and later developed into a business that I still teach and work out of Holly Hill to this day, when I’m not traveling to competitions,” Elliott said.

Her keen interest in eventing started at the age of eight when she attended a clinic with Karen O’Connor. She continued to work with O’Connor occasionally, as she competed at the preliminary level.

“Considering, I had no idea what I was attending…all I had on my 8-year-old brain was horses of all sorts. I had no idea what an accomplished equestrian Karen was at the time and even if I did, I’m not sure I was capable of comprehending how great she was. After the clinic, Karen opened up my world to Eventing. I absolutely love the Cross Country. To this day, it is still my favorite phase of the three events we compete in,” Elliott said.

Elliott attended LSU for a while, but ultimately decided riding and training horses were where her heart and ambitions lay.

“I attended LSU Shreveport for a couple years, started in business, then on to biology, then back to business! As you can see, I was very undecided on what path I should follow, LoL. During my last semester at LSUS, I had a lovely woman, Dr. Philand, who contacted me about riding all of her horses, as she could not get to Holly Hill enough during the week. I said yes, thinking I would take a semester or two off while I found what I actually wanted to do in life. Turns out, I chose the very unstable life of horses,” Elliott said.

So, what does the next few years look like for Elliott? Training, competing and possibly the Olympics?

“We are working towards Paris in 2024. In the meantime, we have the World Equestrian Games just outside of Rome next year that we are looking forward to,” said Elliott.

Speaking to aspiring equestrian sport competitors, Elliott offers this little piece of advice “You must love all aspects of the horses, it is a very tough world, as is making a career of any sport. You must not only love the riding, but you must also love caring for the horses everyday. I had a very unusual start to my career, as I never went and trained under a professional. While that is very much unheard of, I took every lesson, every clinic and rode every single horse I could sit on, whether good, bad, or completely dangerous. I also watched and read as much as possible about all the top competitors. I still do that to this day,” said Elliott.

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