Shelly Francis had ambitions of being a world-class dressage rider from an early age.  Growing-up on her parents thirty-acre farm on a large island off the coast of Maine, she started out riding ponies and through time and patience learned what would develop into her own quiet and systematic approach to training the horse.

Shelly is one of a few international riders in the United States that train young horses from Prix St. George all the way to the International Grand Prix level. At her winter base, Roundabout Farm in Loxahatchee, Florida, or at home in Maine, Shelly develops and trains an intimate number of clients interested in following a goal-oriented program for horse and rider.

Since the early 2000s, the diminutive 5’2” Shelly has teamed with horse owner Patricia Stempel and has consistently represented the United States on both the international and national dressage circuits.   Shelly’s nurturing approach to training the international dressage horse is often complimented by top European riders, feedback that she uses to review her current training methods, with an eye to always looking for improvements.  With all her horses she uses patience and clear communication, which she believes is essential in the development of top competition athletes.

Shelly’s career has spanned the last thirty years, with her achieving top placings in competitions including, Aachen, Rotterdam, Hagen a.T.W., and the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida.  

Shelly’s career features top placings on several key horses.  Riding her stallion Pikant, she was second alternate for the 1996 Olympic team. In 1997, the formidable pair won the USDF Grand Prix Champion Horse of the Year and went on to compete at the 1998 World Equestrian Games in Rome.

Amongst numerous accolades, Shelly had another career highlight in 2016 with Doktor, the German bay gelding owned by Patricia Stemple, when the pair were named as the U.S. Dressage Team alternate for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. 

Her success continues with Danilo, a 17-hand, black gelding who won the Grand Prix Freestyle to Music at the CDI*4 competition in Aachen in 2018 and has continued to top the leader board in Europe and in the United States throughout the 2019 season.

Shelly believes that trust, character and communication between horse and rider are the key elements to the development of the International Dressage Horse.


Photo Credit:  Shannon Brinkman/Betsy LaBelle and Taylor Pence/US Equestrian


Current Sponsors

Shelly would like to thank the following sponsors for all their support:

  • House of Course – show attire
  • KEP Helmets – competition helmet
  • Sommer saddles – for her dressage saddles
  • Crypto – Aero helps keep Shelly’s competition horses in good condition providing top quality feed and supplements.
  • Shelly uses Dressage Sport Boots on Dante when training at home and on the road.