Our Trainer

SARAH TRAVIS — Kind, classical dressage trainer

For a horse to reach it’s full potential, it needs a slow, methodical training program combined with a kind, safe environment where it can gain its own confidence.  At Arete Farm we believe in traditional, proven training principles that are not rushed.  Only by using classical approaches to build strong, supple musculature can a horse be a happy, willing athlete that will be healthy and sound for its entire life.  Our trainer Sarah Travis embodies the kind, classical approach our horses need.

About Sarah Travis:

I have spent the last 20 years studying the kind and classical training of horses and riders.  As a teenager, I had the privilege of being a working student for Kathy Theissen, who taught me to apply the classical training pyramid to the development of horses at all levels from those just started under saddle through Grand Prix, taking into consideration each horses individual conformation, athleticism, and temperament.  During this time, I started my own training and instruction business based out of Kathy’s Brightonwood Farm and was soon able to expand to additional facilities.

In 2010 and 2011, I studied under Betsy Steiner as a working student and assistant trainer in New Jersey and Florida.  This experience allowed me to ride an incredible variety of horses with Betsy’s guidance and watch some of the top riders in the world train, teach, and compete.  Betsy’s emphasis on creating a balanced, supple athlete continue to influence my training on a daily basis.

Early in 2012, I spent a short period as a working student for Cindy Sydnor.  Her strict adherence to classical principles and refusal to ever compromise the well being of the horse continue to inspire me each day.

Today, I teach and train a variety of horses and riders in the Twin Cities area, using the principles of classical training to develop happy, healthy, and long-lasting dressage horses as well as to improve the performance and longevity of eventers and jumpers.  I continue to work with Kathy, Betsy, and Cindy on an ongoing basis to further my own education.


In addition to Sarah, Cindy Sydnor visits periodically for clinics.

About Cindy Sydnor:

I’ve been at home at Braeburn Farm in Snow Camp NC for 34 years.  It is here that I was first able to have my own barn and dressage training facility after nearly twenty years of hard work and education in America, Germany, Austria, and Brazil.

On this farm our horses live in the most close-to-nature manner while receiving kind and classical dressage training.  This is unusual.  Most training facilities do not allow the horses to live out in large grass paddocks and for both geldings and mares to live in a 20-acre pasture together, year-round!  I have a comfortable 9-stall enclosed barn with tack room, feed room and wash stall.  The horses come in every morning for breakfast, grooming, training, and are then turned back out.

Riders and their horses come for lessons and training.  My horses and students have competed at all levels.  As an examiner for the USDF Instructor Certification Program, I have had the honor and pleasure of working with many certified instructors all over the country.  I have also been an “R” USEF Dressage Judge for over 35 years.    What I love most is riding and teaching.

Clinics are exciting opportunities to help riders with their horses for two consecutive days of concentrated work.    I often ride the horses briefly in order to get a feel for the horse.  This enables me to give the rider my best possible advice.  I am always thrilled when the horses go considerably better on the second day, and the riders have an optimistic outlook and a plan for future training.  This is my goal.

It is difficult to put into only a few sentences my philosophy of training horses and riders.  The most important aspects are that “first, we will do no harm.”  The systematic gymnasticizing of the horse—this is what dressage is—makes the horse safe and comfortable to ride, builds his body and mind to be strong and healthy, teaches him to progress as far as he is capable, and increases the length of his useful life.   I follow the classical pyramid of training which covers six “simple” things:

  •  Rhythm
  • Relaxation and Looseness
  • Connection
  • Impulsion
  • Straightness
  • Collection
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