Avilion School of Classical Dressage

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Our Background

A native of the Virginia horse country, Stephanie Millham grew up riding hunters and event horses before specializing in dressage in the 1970's. She credits her two legendary mentors for passing on their great wealth of academic knowledge as well as teaching and training techniques: Dr. H.L.M. van Schaik and Nuno Oliveira, with whom she rode regularly for ten years. "I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time to receive instruction from two of the great classicists of the last century," she says. "In keeping with the old tradition of direct transmission of knowledge from master to student, one on one, I consider it an honor but also a duty to help pass this legacy to the next generation."

During her competitive career Stephanie won the prestigious high score award of the show at the AHSA East Coast Finals. After a successful FEI show season in 1983, including wins at the Prix St. Georges and the Grand Prix levels, and a third in the Intermediaire 1 at the USET's Pan Am Games screening trials, she retired from the competition arena. Her teaching career was launched that same year with a number of students referred by her own mentors, thus ensuring the success of the Avilion School from its inception.

Avilion alumni have gone on to success at all levels. Many are professional trainers, judges and instructors; one has been long-listed for the Olympic team, and several are training and showing successfully at FEI levels. Stephanie has coached a championship Jr./YR Team at the Region 1 finals, several BLM finalists, and an eventing student who won the top award for a mare competing at Advanced Three-Day in the USA. She has also trained a number of USDF bronze, silver and gold medalists.



About the Images

Background Vignette (right): Stephanie beginning pesade sidesaddle on Bonne Chance.  Photo top left: Stephanie presents a Spanish stallion in soft passage.  Photos above, she schools her PRE mare in collected and medium trots. (BEA Photos)



Video at right: Training canter pirouettes with one hand.

Stephanie Millham riding, Nuno Oliveira instructing.






"It is rare to see a rider who is truly passionate about the horse and his training,  taking a profound interest in dressage...and making this extraordinarily subtle work one of the dominant motivations of his life."

Nuno Oliveira





To stay sharp Stephanie has attended teaching, training and judging seminars with some of the dressage world's most renowned clinicians, including Dr. Reinier Klimke. In addition to her studies in Portugal, her travels have taken her to France, to the Reitinstitute von Neindorff in Germany, and the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. She has directed several school quadrilles, one of which performed for the Smithsonian Museum, and was a featured rider at the Sidesaddle Through the Ages display in London's Kensington Gardens.

For the past few years, as Stephanie has been riding Iberian horses almost exclusively due to their extremely soft backs and ultra sensitivity, her clients have included many trainers in the Iberian horse world. She founded and edited the original Horse of Kings magazine in the late eighties, serving as editor for several years. In 2008 she moderated the first annual Classical Symposium sponsored by the Foundation for Classical Horsemanship, for whom she is a founding board member and current vice president. She has also served on the board of directors of the Virginia Dressage Association and is a past and current author of several series of articles on classical horsemanship for the equine press. Her first book on classical equitation is due to be published by Xenophon Press in 2012.

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