Quentin Sloan never would have sat on a horse if it weren’t for his younger sister. After she received $100 to go toward any sport as a fourth birthday present, Ellie Sloan chose horseback riding. Before the end of the month, both siblings had caught the horse bug.
Almost a decade has passed since then, and the Rhode Island-based siblings are gearing up for an intense month of dressage competition. Quentin, 17 and in his penultimate year as an FEI junior, will make his CDI debut at the FEI North American Youth Championships, taking place Aug. 9-14 in Traverse City, Michigan. Ellie, 13, has her sights set on Dressage4Kids’ Youth Dressage Festival, Aug. 11-14 in Saugerties, New York.
In preparation for their summer goals, both Ellie and Quentin participated in Lendon Gray’s Winter Intensive Training program, held January through March in Wellington, Florida.
“The plan was [that] we were going to be in separate barns and everything during the program,” Ellie said. “We ended up being in the same barn on separate ends. And then our horses were too attached so then they had to be side-by-side. So we were in WIT, with stalls next to each other, every day. At first it was hard. But then we just got used to it, and we figured out how to get along.”
“Sometimes there was just a little bit of sibling rivalry,” Quentin added. “And it’s actually kind of funny, because I found that we might be butting heads on the ground but then the second we’re riding, the butting heads does not actually go into the riding. At least most of the time—most of the time, she doesn’t cut me off [in the ring]!”
Ellie took Jennifer Mosle’s 12-year-old German Sport Pony gelding Benno’s Watermark (Benno’s Dream—Splish Splash) to the WIT program. “Bing” previously competed through the Prix St. Georges level and did some eventing, and he has shepherded Ellie from training level to success in the FEI Children’s division. Their goal for the summer is to show third level at YDF, but they have eclectic interests. The pair has been known to dabble in other disciplines, too, including competing in 2’-2’6” jumper classes at schooling shows and trying a first pas de deux during WIT. Now Ellie is working to take it up a notch, from choreographing a two-horse musical freestyle in the pas de deux to participating in her first multi-horse quadrille at YDF.
“When I found out Lendon was [offering] a quadrille division at this year’s YDF, I was like, ‘OK, we are going to do this. I don’t care who is on my team; we’re just going to do it.’ I was able to get a good group, and I’m so excited,” she said.
Preparation for a musical freestyle with multiple horses and riders looks different than training for a regular dressage test, or even a musical freestyle, Ellie said.
“We’ve definitely been doing a bunch of unmounted [work] on foot, like just going through our [floorplan], so that when we’re on horses, we don’t have to worry about crashing into each other,” she said.
Once she and her teammates got out of school for the summer, they started mounted practices. “Doing a test just by yourself is hard enough but then having to worry about three other people and making sure that you’re in time with the music and everything is very difficult.”
While Ellie is experimenting with new challenges in her established partnership with Bing, Quentin is developing a partnership with a new horse, Finn. He was paired with the gelding in December 2021 through the Dressage4Kids donation program.
Last year, Quentin campaigned Danielle Doughty’s Thoroughbred gelding Vigors Boss Man at third level, finishing the season with a fourth-placed finish in the junior/young rider third level division at the GAIG/USDF Region 8 Dressage Championships (New York), and before that he competed in the FEI Childrens division with Morgan pony mare Queen’s Faithfully.
With his sights set on his first CDI and representing Region 8 in the NAYC Junior division this year, Quentin used his time in Florida to build a relationship with Finn. The 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Furst Piccolo-Granny’s Luck, Donnerhall) owned by Dressage4Kids previously competed through Intermediaire I.
“Finn’s not as multi-talented as Bing; Finn sticks to dressage, but he’s a very talented horse,” Quentin said. “The main thing about him is that he’s super sweet and forgiving, so he’s been able to teach me a lot, which has been super helpful.
“This was my first year doing WIT, and I think it was super helpful for me, with a new horse, to be in a program that intense,” he added. “To have Lendon as a trainer was incredible as well; I think that’s a huge benefit, and that’s what really kickstarted [our] relationship. He and I would not have the same connection we do now if I didn’t spend that time with him. Lendon’s program started a week or two after I got him. So for me, to be the one that was picking his stall, feeding him, doing all that, I think that really helped solidify our relationship.”
While his sister practices for her quadrille, out-of-the-(sand)box work is also part of Quentin’s prep work leading up to NAYC.
“I want to be able to ideally ride [the movements] outside in the grass field with no fencing,” he said. “For me, that would make me feel like I have that part of the test down. So that’s something that I’m going to be working on—just making sure that I set Finn up to succeed. Because he can do all of it. I just need to not screw it up.”
The Sloan siblings primarily train with Pam Maloof of Faith Hill Farm in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, but their two horses live five minutes up the road at Heritage Equestrian Center. Between shipping to lessons, shows and clinics, Bing and Finn have spent a lot of time together in the trailer this qualifying season.
“They definitely became each other’s support system whenever they got off property,” Quentin said. “They were always looking to see if the other one was there. … It’s really funny to see them develop that relationship. Now, they’re not quite joined at the hip, but they’re definitely like siblings.”
And that’s a topic the Sloans know plenty about, regularly training and showing with each other.
“Every now and then it just gets to be a lot, especially at shows,” Ellie said, “when we’re both competing, and we’re both trying to do our own thing, but we’re siblings, so we can’t do our own thing.”
“But it definitely helps to have someone who’s also interested,” Quentin added. “I know that horses are not going to be out of the family anytime soon. If, for some reason, I wasn’t able to ride, Ellie could just as well jump on and keep Finn in shape and keep him up to date. And same thing with Ellie; I’ve gotten on Bing a few times just for fun. I think it’s great in that sense that you have another person on your team to help and share your success with.”