Winning a Day with Phillip Dutton

Nine friends get the chance of a lifetime—riding with Phillip Dutton, an Olympic gold medalist and renowned three-day event trainer.

Sierra Lesny, from New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, won the Phillip Dutton Experience Sweepstakes, sponsored by Practical Horseman with prizes provided by Cosequin®. On January 10, 2022, a typically sunny, warm winter day in Florida, she spent the day with the Olympic bronze medalist at his Buck Ridge Farm in Loxahatchee. Here’s a first-hand look at her experience.

Lesny spent the day with Dutton at his Buck Ridge Farm in Loxahatchee, FL. © Stephanie Ruff

“Surround yourself with great clients, and great horses will follow.” After only a couple hours on Buck Ridge Farm, I could tell those were words Phillip Dutton lives by. Every groom, rider, and client I met with was extremely welcoming with only kind words to say about Phillip.

Throughout the beautiful, sunny day with Phillip, I watched him ride eight-plus horses and give five-plus lessons all with the same consistency and thoughtfulness. He had a plan for what to work on that day, but I could see him adapt the plan to each rider’s needs. He had the same patience with the young horses as he did with those with more experience. Phillip had not only a plan for the day and how to ride the horses accordingly, but he knew the long-term goals as well and how best to achieve them.

Although Phillip was very organized and everyone knew their jobs, I watched his vet pitch in to clean up manure piles, owners held horses for each other and his students happily picked up fallen rails. Everyone was willing to help. A true team effort. I was able to get a look into “the book” which is where they list all their records, notes and information to keep everyone on track at the farm. Something as small as this book can keep a program of this caliber running smoothly. The organization and strong management created such a calm and orderly barn that, even with the constant movement, the people and horses never seemed overwhelmed.

Dutton gave Lesny the special opportunity to ride his Tokyo Olympic mount, Z (left). © Stephanie Ruff

After the incredible day with Phillip, we ended with a pleasant dinner in Wellington with him, his wife, Evie, and a group of his owners, which made for a perfect ending to a knowledge-filled day. Everyone was able to come together, separate work from play and appreciate each other’s company. Topping off the wonderful evening, Mr. Dutton graciously invited me to watch him ride at a schooling show the next day. I look forward to continuing a relationship with Phillip and his wonderful team.

I would like to extend a huge thank you to Practical Horseman, Cosequin® and especially Phillip Dutton for an experience filled with fun, great horsemanship, expertise and camaraderie. 

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