Hard work, dedication, sincerity, and skill. Those are just a few of the adjectives used to describe Melissa. Originally from Pennsylvania, Melissa knew early on that her future was with horses. But somehow she also had the wisdom to understand that being a student of the horse was crucial.
Melissa took a position in Virginia and spent 13 years at the heels of eventing titan Phyllis Dawson watching, learning and growing. She rode anything and everything and looked to each horse for the unique lesson it could provide. Melissa produced horses to the four star level and everything in between, each with pride and patience.
In 2007 Melissa successfully completed the Rolex CCI**** with Just Fun Stuff, a former timber horse that she brought up through the levels. This was a personal high point for Melissa and one she would love to experience again. Working each day to become the best rider she can be is still a driving force.
Having lessoned with a long and prestigious list of instructors, she
still avails herself of the constructive help of fellow professionals. Being a previous member of the Developing Riders Program, Melissa looks to gain that level of involvement again as she works to build and develop her group of young talented horses.
Melissa shares the insight she has and is gaining every day with her students. As a Level 3 ICP Instructor, she works with horses and riders at every level. Melissa has the same positive and patient approach with her students, believing that first and foremost, you must enjoy the process of growth and learning. Melissa first built a solid foundation before taking on the challenges of having her own business with sincere dedication and attention to detail.
After moving to and from the Midwest for her husband’s job, Melissa settled back in Virginia in November 2016. She is based out of Olympian Stephen Bradley’s Southern Edition Farm in White Post where she not only serves as his assistant trainer, but also has her own clientele. Located at the historic Long Branch Estate, the farm features a gorgeous stone barn along with hundreds of acres for riding.
This location allows easy access to Area II competitions and the busy local horse community. Melissa has chosen to limit the number of horses in her program to allow for a very hands-on and individual approach. It is not a stretch to say she cares for each horse as if it were her own.
It is often said that behind every great man there is a great woman, but in this case behind a talented woman is a man who can do just about anything. Jeff is first and foremost a horseman who is working at expanding his skills and proficiency.
Jeff currently has two horses and is looking to 2014 as a year where they both will have solid performances at the Preliminary level. Jeff also took on the duties of handler for the Steplin young horses competing in the Future Event Horse series.
In his rookie year, Jeff worked diligently with the youngsters and became a real student in the art of showing in-hand. His efforts were rewarded when he led Rule of Thumb to win the 2013 FEH East Coast Championship. So far he has three charges for the 2014 season and looks to bring them along just as successfully.
In addition to his riding, Jeff manages the day to day running of the barn- from sourcing hay and grain to repairs. Jeff’s background is in construction and as anyone with a barn knows, something is always breaking!
Jeff runs a tight ship being sure that the horses are well cared for and the facilities are in tip top shape. With Jeff keeping things running efficiently and smoothly, Melissa can focus on her horses and students.
Steplin is a small group of horsemen with a mission to find and develop talented young horses for sport. There are really two sides of the effort. First is young American-bred sport horses, and the second is exceptional off-the-track Thoroughbreds.
Everyone involved has a passion for the American Thoroughbred, but also recognizes the influence of strong warmblood lines.
Each horse is selected with quality, conformation, and trainability in mind, and then we hope to develop them into whichever aspect of industry they are best suited for.
We try to maintain a small group of horses ranging from weanling to competition age.
In Steplin’s first year we were proud to have produced a number of in-hand competitors. Our success was capped off when Rule of Thumb was crowned 2013 FEH East Coast Champion at Fair Hill. We hope to continue that success with our young event horses, show horses, and young horses for years to come.
We are always on the lookout for lovely horses and invite anyone with a similar passion to join our group.