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Alia Silvaggio Gallops Her Way to the Top

Townsend Colley, Sports Editor

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Photo credit: Joseph Silvaggio

In its 67-year history, Southern Lehigh has fielded many championship teams and been home to hundreds of all-league and all-state caliber athletes. However, some of the best athletes to ever grace the halls of the high school never even wore a Spartans jersey. Sophomore Alia Silvaggio is one of these athletes. Silvaggio has made a name for herself in the equestrian sport of dressage.

Dressage is an Olympic sport and considered to be one of the most competitive equestrian events. According to the International Equestrian Federation, dressage is “the highest expression of horse training.” During a competition, each rider is presented with a series of tests that they are given time to prepare for beforehand, and then judged on the execution of these tests on a scale of 1 to 10.

“You get judged very precisely on the movements and how the horse looks,” Silvaggio said.

Silvaggio has been riding horses for much of her life. She began riding at eight years old at summer camp. As her skills on horseback progressed, she began to work with a private trainer. Eventually she found a trainer who previously trained Olympic level dressage competitors.

It was at this point that Silvaggio got her own horse and began working with it to compete, or “show” in jumping. However, because of her trainer’s expertise, Silvaggio decided to transition to dressage, and has been competing in the event for the last two years.

“[The first competition] was super scary. It was a lot different from jumping because you have to go through a test, and jumping is a course,” Silvaggio said. “So, you have to study the test and then you have to make everything precise. The circles have to be a certain amount of meters. It was a lot different then jumping.”

Despite her anxious feelings about the first competition, Silvaggio has become one of the top riders for her age. She recently competed in the prestigious Devon Horse Show, the largest outdoor horse show in the country, alongside an Olympic dressage team, and placed third in her class. In the competition, all of her competitors were professional riders, and many of them were around five years older.

“I’m very proud,” Alia’s brother, senior Luke Silvaggio said. “I went to go watch, and it was pretty cool to see her compete and place in such a big competition.”

At this point, Silvaggio’s career in dressage looks promising. One of her main goals for the upcoming year is to compete in the National Junior Championships. However, her ultimate goal extends beyond the confines of the United States border and out to the rest of the world, where she hopes to one day compete in dressage for the United States Olympic team.

“I like how precise dressage is and I like competing to see how I do and how I’ve grown,” Silvaggio said. “I need to keep getting to know my horse more and dressage in general and the movements, because I’ve only been riding dressage for two years and a lot of other riders have been doing it for their whole lives.”

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Alia Silvaggio Gallops Her Way to the Top