Susan grew up riding on her family's horse farm in upstate New York. As a teenager, she spent time as a working student for Michael Poulin at the American School of Dressage in Maine. Susan was a long listed FEI young rider, competing in the North American Young Rider Championships in 1988 and 1989, and won the Individual Young Rider Championship at Dressage at Devon in 1988.

Susan was fortunate to train for several years with Olympic rider Ashley Holzer, and spent 10 years commuting over the border to train with Canadian Olympians Neil and Cindy Ishoy on various horses, solidifying the skills to produce a quality Grand Prix mount.

She accompanied friend, Canadian Dana Hewett for training at Kyra Kyrklund's in England prior to the 1999 Volvo World Cup and assisted Dana at the World Cup in Frankfurt Germany.

Susan currently seeks training and advice from brother Michael and sister-in-law, Vera Kessels-Barisone.

Susan is a USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold medalist, and has been developing dressage horses for over 25 years. She has been nationally competitive on several horses over the years herself and has produced several USDF medalists and nationally competitive amateur riders.

Susan and Philip Gilson own Dressage Horizons, a picturesque dressage facility along Lake Ontario in webster, New York. Recently, Susan coached Philip through his USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold medals as well.