When I started working with Shelley, I had a lot of tension in my body, coming from the hunter ring. In short order, Shelley was able to improve my seat so that I was more effective in my partnership with my horse. Shelley caters to each horse and rider on an individual basis. She is patient and thorough in her explanations. She is willing to take all the time needed to answer any questions and make sure that the rider goes away with the thorough understanding of the lesson.
I have worked with a lot of trainers throughout the years, including a few Olympians, and Shelley is one of my favorites.
Her ability to help everyone regardless of where they are in their personal training arc from both a horse and rider level is beyond impressive. I also value her meticulous attention to ensuring a horse’s health, to good rider techniques, and to thoroughly explaining horse mechanics. I recommend her to everyone regardless of disciplines and have always gotten feedback from riders about how much they learned. Since my barn has started having clinics with her, I have seen great improvement from everyone. We are so fortunate to have someone so thoughtful and talented helping us through our equestrian journey and I only ever have positive things to say about her as a trainer.
I am an older rider with serious confidence issues and a very young horse. I was drawn to Shelley’s training after observing her instruct very experienced competitive riders on advanced horses. I watched as Shelley made minor adjustments in the riders’ positions and saw immediate improvements in the horses’ movements. It made sense to me that correcting the rider would change the horse because I have always felt my shortcomings as a rider had nothing to do with my horse, but with me. Now, working with my almost four year old, probably not bred for dressage draft cross, I am beginning to understand and love the challenge of a young horse while Shelley fills in the considerable holes in my riding education.
Shelley’s willingness to say the same thing to me over and over and over in a thousand different ways until it finally makes sense to me, demonstrates her patience and her understanding that horses and riders don’t fit a single mold and I am deeply grateful for her genuine desire to see us improve. My confidence in my riding has increased significantly under Shelley’s guidance and I couldn’t be more grateful that I’m finally learning the nuances of riding that have evaded me my entire life and I can’t wait to learn more.
Training with Shelley has helped me to develop in so many ways. When I started with her, I barely had a seat in the saddle and knew next to nothing about dressage. But in the six months I've been riding, Shelley’s knowledge , patience, and encouragement have allowed me to develop my confidence and work on the skills I didn’t have. I learn something new and valuable every lesson, and Shelley has really helped me move forward in my riding and my horsemanship. Thank you, Shelley!
I started with Shelley over a year ago, and she has definitely turned my world around. I started taking lessons with her and realized how incredible she was after just working with her one time!
She is patient, kind, and has an amazing eye for errors in body alignment while in the saddle. Shelley gives 200% to her students, and I am so extremely grateful for that. There is never a day that goes by where Shelley does not put her heart and soul into her students and horses. She has given me a wealth of knowledge that I hope to continue to grow.
I am looking forward to my future with Shelley; I am certain that she will always lead me in the right direction.
I started working for Shelley about a year and a half ago when a position opened up for a working student. I began taking lessons as a lower level eventer hoping to broaden my understanding of dressage. Due to my horse's age, I decided to transition from eventing to dressage. As we entered the dressage world, Shelley guided us through this change with her knowledge and determination. Her understanding of the sport helped my riding in many ways, and my horse has exceeded my expectations for a 20-year-old pony. Working for Shelley has also served me well because I have learned more about horses and this sport than I would have by only lessoning. It has been a privilege to get to know and work with Shelley, and she has what it takes to help you achieve your goals.
Since starting with Shelley my horse, Gallito, has flourished. He has gone from a very green five-year-old to receiving awards at regionals and Nationals this past year. I couldn't be more pleased.
Shelley is an accomplished and gifted instructor who is able to break down every component of the lesson. In all my years of taking lessons, from a variety of trainers, she has been the most thorough and confident in her communication. She is passionate about helping her students achieve their goals, she listens and never tires of answering any and all questions that I have.
Shelley is a gifted trainer and riding instructor. She has the experience and expertise to help you fulfill your goals as she is helping me with mine.
I have been riding with Shelley since 1998, starting out as a Junior/Young Rider. In that time she has done everything in her power to make me the best I can be. I have succeeded at local shows, earning many blue ribbons and high point ribbons, as well as regional championships, placing multiple years in Training Level, First Level, and First Level Musical Freestyle as a Young Rider. As an Adult Amateur, my focus has been mainly on training instead of showing, and Shelley still is able to keep me excited about the process. She encourages continual education in dressage, providing many opportunities to audit and ride in clinics, as well as instilling in her students the importance of a foundation of groundwork in forming a strong relationship with your horse. Shelley trains in a way that gets the most out of the horse in a way that makes sense for both horse and rider. She genuinely cares about her students and their achievements, and you can feel that every day. She truly treats every training horse with the same care she would her own horse. Overall, the knowledge I stand to gain by training with Shelley seems infinite, and I look forward to the rest of the journey.
I am an older adult amateur who has worked with Shelley since July 2018. I absolutely love her lessons; she explains the unexplainable. Shelley is so hard working and pays attention to all of the details you need to practice in order to move forward with your horse and your riding. I find myself thinking every lesson, "why didn't anyone show me these details before?" Shelley challenges you but never leaves you feeling lost only motivated to do greater things with riding. I highly recommend working with this kind, wonderful trainer.
NICOLE L. DLUGOSZ
NLD Business Solutions LLC
Shelley has a systematic approach to teaching and training that has been instrumental in my dressage education. Her ability to break concepts down into manageable pieces that build on one another has allowed me to feel confident in the aids I’m giving my horse. I can tell that my mare is more confident and has a better understanding of the aids, which has made our rides much more enjoyable. As soon as Shelley steps into the arena, I know I have her undivided attention, and I am getting the most out of our session together. Her approach is always professional and always kind and fair to both horse and rider. She takes the time to understand your goals and will put forth every effort to help you achieve them. Shelley has a true passion for dressage and for helping her students learn and grow. Her ability to explain concepts in several different ways truly differentiates her in the profession. I have been so happy with the progress that my mare and I have made since 2013 with Shelley. I can’t wait to see where our training takes us.
You can expect to work with a consummate professional who is knowledgeable about horses and the sport of dressage. She is well organized, always pleasant, and prompt. She gives intelligent and helpful instruction, with clear goals in mind for horse and rider, including safety and enjoyment. She has a strong work ethic and integrity. Best of all she really cares! I first met Shelley when she was 12 and riding hunters. She was always fun to be around – pleasant, helpful, and the hardest worker of any student in the stable. Around the same time, we changed to a new trainer and switched to studying dressage. Later, Shelley became an assistant at the stable, and I often paid her to ride my horse. Years later, Shelley and I were both mothers with young children. She hung out her shingle and became a full time professional, while I had to sell my horse and quit riding. Fast forward about 15 years, I was ready to start riding again. I found Shelley’s website and sent her an email. In about a week I was back in the saddle. This was nearly two years ago, and I am loving it! I am excited to have found an instructor who always has the best interest of both horse and rider at the center of the lesson. She is encouraging, while at the same time pushing me to reach the next level. Despite the fact that she, personally, is driven, she never forgets that a lot of amateurs have horses and ride for fun. However, if you are driven too, you won’t be disappointed. The friendly and collegial atmosphere in the barn with her other students is an added benefit. Shelley has never let up on her own equine education. Taught by some good professionals, the school of hard knocks, and lots of experience, she has developed into a very skilled rider as well as teacher, continuing to take lessons and ride in clinics. For some years her mentors have been the accomplished Kim and Yvonne Barteau. I deeply admire the person my young friend has become. The pleasant and talented teen I knew when I got my first horse almost 40 years ago, has developed into a wonderful professional horsewoman and a very fine person. It is my privilege to ride with, and recommend, Shelley Day.
THE PAPKA FAMILY
My two daughters have been riding with Shelley for the past 2 years. Shelley is the consummate professional whose passion for horses and dressage is evident through all she does. She is patient, but firm and demanding in her training. Our girls now have a love for dressage and a appreciation for its benefits. The results show up in all aspects of their riding, including at their hunter shows and polo matches. The ability to be in tune with horse and rider is something Shelley is uniquely able to pass on.
ANN R. DELAFIELD
Internal Medicine Nurse Practitioner
I started riding with Shelley about three years ago. I trained in dressage in high school and then took a seven-year hiatus to focus on college and my career. Suffice to say, dressage is not like riding a bike. However, Shelley always exercises patience with my training and instruction. She explains herself clearly and breaks down her instructions and notes so I can understand them on a more detailed level. As an adult rider, I grasp dressage concepts much better. Shelley has shown me the importance of mental capability and feeling the movements, both of vital importance. Shelley also guided me through the process of buying a horse. Ownership had been a lifelong dream. Thanks to Shelley’s careful search, I own a Friesian mare. She helped me constantly and continues to train my mare and diligently teach me. Shelley treats my horse as her own. I rely on her for guidance in my dressage training, horse care, and education. I look forward to where the journey with Shelley takes me next.
DiplOM, MSOM, L.Ac
I've always had horses and loved to ride, but also admired horses because of the love, friendship and loyalty they so easily give. For most of my life, going to the stable was part of my daily routine. I always looked forward to the part of the day I got to spend with my horse. After losing my 21-year-old thoroughbred several years ago, I wasn't ready to make the commitment of a new horse. My sister was working with Shelley at the time and suggested I get back to the barn and the horses by taking some lessons. Shelley suggested I could temporarily ride a 17-year-old quarter horse gelding who was recently rescued from poor living conditions. All I knew about him was that he was used as a breeding stallion and barrel racing horse. Not exactly the description of an ideal dressage horse, but I started taking a few lessons a week on him with Shelley. Slowly over time, he became my new dressage horse. I, of course, fell in love with him and adopted him after about a year. I have consistently taken 2-3 lessons a week with Shelley and have seen surprising improvement and progress in this former barrel horse. Recently, I had a new veterinarian came out to float his teeth. She asked how old he was, and when I replied 25, she was amazed. She said, "I've never seen a horse his age with a top line that looks that good." She asked if I rode him, and I replied, "Yes, we do dressage training." She told me he looked amazing for 25, and that I should keep doing whatever I was doing with him. I know that what keeps him young and healthy is all the work that we do with Shelley. I'm amazed that this 25-year-old quarter horse has progressed as far as he has, and is able to perform as a dressage horse. His suppleness, responsiveness and true movement is the result of Shelley's genuine knowledge and training ability. I know that she is responsible for the amazing work my horse capable of and now performing. I attribute his and my success in training to Shelley's expertise and would recommend her training to anyone interested in increasing their knowledge and skill as a rider.
I started training with Shelley in 1990; with a very young and confused pony at the time. Since I was a green rider myself this did not make for a good partnership. Shelley helped me find a horse that was equal to my riding level. We found Harley, a 7-year-old thoroughbred gelding, who was being used unsuccessfully for polo. With Shelley’s patient and systematic approach, we turned this polo pony into a broke dressage horse. This horse had numerous jobs while I owned him from being my show horse, a school horse to other riders, and my daughter’s babysitter. At the age of 18 Shelley took over Harley’s training and he was able to compete successfully at the Prix St. George level. He won many USDF Breed awards and Regional awards. I currently own a 15-year-old Hungarian Warmblood, Titus. I bought him as a 2-year-old and with Shelley’s direction took him up to Prix St. George. During that time he had a successful show career with myself and Shelley, winning many USDF Breed awards. Due to some injuries, he could not continue his upper-level training. Shelley has altered his training program to cater to his needs and has kept him sound and happy. Now that my daughters have taken a serious interest in the sport; I look forward to seeing not only my progress but my daughter’s progress as well.
Specialized Drug Officer - Huntley, Illinois
Shelley's incredible attention to detail meticulous instruction and vast knowledge has changed my entire riding perspective, practice, and technique. Through her instruction, she has made me a thinking, consistent, and correct rider. Her teaching methods are clear and concise, and she always pays attention to what the horse and rider need to succeed. I cannot thank Shelley enough for her top-notch instruction that she has provided for myself and my horse.
East Troy, WI
I am writing this note both as a mother and as a student. My daughter Keegan, and I have been training with Shelley for only a few short years. In that time we have gained much in the way of knowledge and correctness in the sport of Dressage. As a mother, I have watched Shelley take my daughter on a journey that she had only dreamed of. Through patience and perseverance, she has taught a child with very high goals, and an Arabian labeled as incorrigible, to act as one. Shelley has always been very respectful of Keegan’s dreams…always acting to keep things real but never to squash those bright hopes.As a student, I have evolved tremendously. As with any journey, you don’t know what you haven’t learned until you learn it. For me, learning the importance of correct training, from the beginning has been eye-opening. The “tricks” in Dressage are easy to master. The real trick is learning to do them correctly. Shelley is all about correctness from the very start. I feel very fortunate that Keegan’s young Westphalen gelding has had the opportunity to work with Shelley from the first day he’s been backed. We have a saying that hangs on the wall in our barn. It reads, “Dressage, the passionate pursuit of perfection by the obsessively imperfect.” Shelley is always in pursuit of that alluding glimpse of perfection…..and her striving to always reach it is what keeps the rest of us in tow.