Fashionista Silvia Rizzo Trail Blazes FEI's Path for the Future of Dressage

Thu, 04/23/2015 - 10:10
Italian Dressage News

Italian Silvia Rizzo might not be an FEI Dressage World top 50 ranked rider, but the passionate international Grand Prix rider is certainly a trail blazer in her own merit. Not only is she an equestrian fashion trendsetter in the high performance dressage arena, she is also connecting with her fans and fulfiling the goals the FEI wants to discuss at its 2015 FEI Sport Forum for modernizing and popularizing the discpline.

The 2015 FEI Sports Forum will be held in Lausanne, Switzerland, on 27 - 28 April 2015. The topic of discussion will be the "Future of Dressage" which needs "to attract new spectators, sponsors, extended media interest etc." as it is "the only way to make dressage more

The FEI commissioned company Repucom to do survery and find out what is necessary to popularize the sport. They concluded that "modernizing and giving more freedom with the dress code and music" as well as "human interest stories in the media will broaden interest to wider audiences." Riders and their horses need to be more accessible to the public.

For years Silvia Rizzo has driven her own course on the international dressage circuit as fashionista in the saddle. She took her tack and clothing to new, stylish heights and shocked the conservative establishment with her fashion choices. Regularly FEI stewards tried to whistle her back by claiming she broke FEI rules, but Rizzo was well aware of the allowed standards and always played according to the rules despite her bold outfits.

"Already several years ago I made the deliberate choice to introduce something new in dressage and to make the sport more attractive for everybody," said Silvia. "I might not be the world beater in the dressage ring, but I like to have fun and enjoy myself while I compete. The audience connects with a rider who smiles in the saddle instead of someone who looks like he just ran a marathon. I switch my clothes and tack regularly and always get the most amazing feedback and support from the spectators."

Rizzo is a true equestrian style icon with her appealing fashion choices. With her colourful and smartly designed breeches and tails by Accademia Italiana and silver chrome KEP Italia helmet, Silvia caught the attention of the Italian King of Fashion, Valentino Garavani, at the 2015 CDI 5* Doha in Qatar. It also resulted in German equestrian magazine Reiter Revue naming her the "eye catcher" of the month in their printed magazine. 

Silvia is sponsored by an impressive string of fashion and tack brands that all want to use her image as the rider loved and popular with the fans. She is the only dressage person with a Facebook network of over 200,000 followers as her love for horses, the sport and her eye for fashion rub off on an enthusiastic crowd which wants to feel connected with the athlete.

"Fashion and a close contact with the fans are really good ways of making the sport more global and attract new comers, who might shy away from its traditional clothing and stiff appearance," Rizzo explained. "To me it proves that many more people, who are not involved in dressage or horses in general, can take an interest in our discipline. Valentino is not particularly a horse fan, but it was the link with fashion that made him catch attention. I think it's a perfect way to attract more people and generate more sponsorship from big corporations."

With her Italian partner Michele Betti, Rizzo runs a small, private dressage yard Hof Marabunta in Bissendorf, Germany. Silvia's next competition with her Lusitano stallion Sal will be the CDI 4* Hamburg Dressage Derby in Hamburg, Germany, on 13 -  17 May 2015.

Photos © Stefano Grasso

Related Links
Future of Dressage to be Discussed at 2015 FEI Sports Forum

Silvia Rizzo Gets Nod of Appreciation from Fashion King Valentino at 2015 CDI Doha
Florida Snowbird Silvia Rizzo Sets New Goals and Partnerships for 2015