Sydney Shulman A Shining Equestrian Star
Greenwich Time - August 15, 2015
Sydney Shulman definitely knows how to get a jump on the competition.
As her impressive results indicate, the 20-year old professional equestrian star from Greenwich has guided her horses over each obstacle this year. During a month-and-a-half span this spring and summer, Shulman won four consecutive grand prix competitions, earning almost $40,000 and acquiring two new Mini Coopers.
Now that’s some kind of roll.
Schulman’s biggest win came at the Rood & Riddle Grand Prix at the Kentucky Summer Horse Show in Lexington on July 25 — a competition with a total purse of $50,000. Shulman and her horse Venice coasted past the first round and were one of just three horse-and-rider combinations to advance to the jump-off out of a field of 36 at the Rood & Riddle Grand Prix.
Owned by Jill Shulman — Sydney’s mother — Venice and Sydney posted a winning time of 44.82 seconds to capture the first-place prize of $15,000 at the Rood & Riddle Grand Prix.
“It was held under the lights at around 7 p.m. and there was a big crowd, so it was very exciting,” Shulman said. “I was the only American and the only female in the jump-off and my jump-off time was three seconds faster than the second-place finisher (Shane Sweetnam, 47.24).”
Though she prefers to go second in the jump-off, Shulman went first, but handled the pressure well, as she and Venice cleared the obstacles en route to the championship performance.
“She (Venice) was very small compared to other horses in the competition,” Shulman said. “You look at her and she doesn’t look like she is capable of doing that, but she is very quick, very fast and doesn’t spend much time in the air when she jumps. She gets to the ground quick. That was the biggest money class that I had won and it was pretty exciting.”
Just five days after winning the Rood & Riddle Grand Prix, Shulman and horse Wamira (also owned by Jill Shulman) captured the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic at Rolex Stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park. They were the first to enter the ring and promptly advanced to the jump-off (championship round). Shulman and Wamira won the competition, which featured 53 entries, in a blistering time of 35.55.
“That was a little bit different, because I only rode her a couple of times before, so I didn’t feel as comfortable with her,” said Shulman, who was one of the youngest competitors in the event and received the top winner’s prize of $7,5000. “We got off to a good start and that was the biggest height I ever jumped. Sometimes when you are the first to go in the class like I was, it works out in your favor.”
Brianne Goutal, one of Shulman’s trainers, is impressed with how well Shulman has adjusted to each horse she has competed with.
“A lot of riders have success with one particular horse, but it’s difficult to be successful with a multitude of horses,” Goutal said. “Sydney has won with several horses, which emphasizes her strengths and the depth, talent and knowledge she has for the sport. Those who have long-term careers are successful riding many horses and even though she is very young, she’s had a lot of success already.”
Goutal has witnessed Shulman’s progress during the two-and-half years that she’s helped train her.
“She has really come a long way,” Goutal said. “Bridging that gap between being an amateur and then a professional is hard, but she has handled it really well and has already become among the best. She works really hard and her family is involved in the whole process, which is wonderful. What she has done so far shows that hard work really does pay off.”
Local equestrian fans got a chance to see Shulman shine when she tested her skills in the $25,000 Ox Ridge Hunt Club Grand Prix in June. Riding Wamira (a Belgian Warmblood mare) Shulman captured the Ox Ridge Grand Prix title and also won the Welcome Stake qualifying class prior to the grand prix, aboard her Dutch Warmblood gelding Quidam. Besides winning the top money prize, Shulman received a summer lease on two 2015 MINI Coopers — which was donated by sponsor CallariCars.com.
“I love competing in those local shows,” Shulman said. “I have been going to that club since I was six or seven years old and all of my family was there, as well as clients. Of course, winning the car was super cool. When I saw the car, I was thinking, ‘we have to win this car,’ and I thought I would have a good chance of winning it.”
Also in June, Shulman and Quidam won the $25,000 Fairfield Grand Prix at the Fairfield County Hunt Club in Westport, marking the third time she emerged victorious in four years (she also won in 2012 and 2013).
“It was pouring rain then and the grass conditions were not good, but my horse jumped unbelievably well,” she said. “We all work really hard on preparing properly for these events and I have an unbelievable team behind me. All of us work extra hard and we all want the same thing.”
Jill Shulman, owner of Back Country Farm in Greenwich, helped spark Sydney’s interest in riding.
“I have been riding since I was four years old,” said Shulman, who is trained by her mother and began competing in jumping events when she was 10 years old. “My mom has always been a rider and she started her business at a young age. It’s been great working with her, it’s really been a lot of fun.
This sport has meant so much to me and I have gained so much from it. It teaches you lessons on sportsmanship, working as a team and dedication.”
For Jill Shulman, every day that she trains with her daughter is a blessing.
“It’s a dream come true and I enjoy every minute of it,” Jill Shulman said. “Her success validates what we do here at Back Country Farm. This year has definitely been the most successful year of her career and hopefully, it’s a natural progression. Sydney has acquired a nice stable of horses and has really evolved and grown into a successful rider.”
Shulman claimed the Pony Jumper Finals Individual Championship several times and catapulted through the junior ranks before becoming a professional two years ago. In 2012, she was selected to compete in the Young Rider Tour by the United States Equestrian Federation — a tour that was recognized as the Olympic Development Team. Each year, from the first week of November until April, Shulman resides in Florida, which is where the show season takes place.
“Every single week there is an event in Florida and it’s really competitive for about 18 weeks,” said Shulman, who owns four horses. “It’s amazing, every single week we know where we are going to be and what we are going to do.”
The Shulmans enjoy spreading their love of horses and riding to youngsters at their Greenwich farm. Back Country Farm in Greenwich is a riding academy that offers lessons to riders of all levels.
“We have some students that we teach at the farm, which hopefully, makes kids’ dreams comes true,” she said.
Shulman, who will ride in the Canadian Pacific $1 million Grand Prix in Saugerties, N.Y., on Sept. 6, knows she’ll be around the sport for years to come.
“On the last Olympic team every rider was over 30 years old, so one of my goals is to be a part of the Olympic team someday,” she said.
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