On Sept. 21, 2017 at the NEDA (New England Dressage Association) Fall Festival, I met Sydney Collier of Ann Arbor, MI. Sydney is a very talented young lady that has overcome many obstacles in her lifetime.
Sydney has been riding horses since she was very young. Sydney’s first discipline was Eventing. Her dream was always to go to the Olympics.
At the age of seven she had devastating news. Sydney was diagnosed with Wyburn–Mason Syndrome. This disease is so rare it is unknown how many people have the disease. To date there have been fewer than 100 documented cases. Sydney is the first pediatric case that has been diagnosed and is being treated.
Wyburn-Mason is primarily diagnosed post mortem after a bleed. Sydney has suffered multiple strokes as a result of her disease — the first happened when she was 11 years old and the condition caused her to go blind in her right eye and half blind in the other. She really felt devastated thinking her riding days were numbered.
To Sydney’s surprise there is an organization that could help her achieve her dreams at the international level — USEPA (United States Para Equestrian Association). Para-Dressage is dressage for riders with eligible permanent physical impairments. Through them she met her trainer Wesley Dunham at Woodstock Stables in Millbrook, NY. Sydney moved to Millbrook to be able to train with Dunham. She trains six days a week on the horse and in a gym setting to make sure she’s in the best shape possible.
Sydney has accomplished a lot in seven years. She represented the United States at the World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France in 2014 and at the Paralympics in Rio in 2016.
Sydney said she is working toward representing the United States at the World Equestrian Games in 2018 and Tokyo Japan Paralympics in 2020. She is looking for a new horse to take her there. When asked what it takes to be that special horse, Sydney replied, since she is a Grade 1, she rides all walk tests, and that her horse needs to have a superb walk. The horse has to have a really caring and calm mindset.
Her advice to everyone is, “Never give up because anything is possible if you work hard enough.”
Sydney is like any other teenager. She loves to goof around and have fun. When she’s not riding she loves listening to music, cooking, and volunteering at horse shows. She is so positive and funny — a very determined young lady.
I would like to take this time to wish Sydney best of luck on her road to Tokyo in 2020.
Feel free to follow Sydney on Facebook and Instagram @Syd’sParaquest
Her website is: www.sydsparaquest.com.
For more information on the USEPA United States Para Equestrian Association please contact:
Director, Laureen Johnson at email@example.com.