Sydney Collier and Willi Wesley at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. Photo (C) SusanJStickle.com.
Lexington, KY – December 12, 2014 – Para-Equestrian Dressage Young Rider Sydney Collier has been named the 2014 Junior Equestrian of the Year by the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF). Collier, 17, of Ann Arbor, Mich. was selected for her accomplishments among many outstanding junior athletes. Collier will receive her award at the Pegasus Awards Dinner held Friday, January 16, at The Hyatt Regency Lexington in Lexington, Ky., during the 2015 USEF Annual Meeting. Collier will be awarded the Ruth O’Keefe Meredith Memorial Trophy as the 2014 Junior Equestrian of the Year.
Collier has made it her mission to, as she states, “take the ‘dis’ out of disabled.” At age seven, Sydney was diagnosed with Wyburn-Mason Syndrome after she began having blurry vision. Wyburn-Mason Syndrome is a rare, congenital disorder characterized by arteriovenous malformations in the central nervous system and retina. It affects only .14% of the world’s population and can cause brain hemorrhaging, stroke, paralysis, or death. She enjoys bringing awareness to the disabled community and the Paralympic Equestrian sport through public speaking, dedication, and her riding accomplishments.
In 2014 Collier earned a spot as a Grade Ib rider on the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games U.S. Para-Dressage Team that competed in Normandy, France. She achieved strong scores on Victoria Dugan’s Willi Wesley, a 2000 Warmblood gelding. It was only four years prior at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky where Collier met Paralympian Jonathan Wentz who introduced and then mentored her on the Paralympic sport. Through her positive attitude and determination Collier has garnered numerous accolades aboard horses Willi Wesley; NTEC Cuplee, owned by Patricia Mendenhall; and her current competition partner Wentworth, formally owned by Amy McIlwham. Collier rides with Paralympic Dressage coach Wes Dunham of Woodstock Stables in Millbrook, NY.
Her athletic pursuits have been accompanied by multiple awards and scholarships including 2011 Para-Dressage demonstration rider at the Adequate FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships, 2012 Think Alive Grant, 2013 USDF Youth Convention Scholarship, 2013 U.S. Para-Dressage Symposium invitation, 2013 Custom Saddlery Rising Star Award, 2013 Miss Jane Marple Memorial Trophy at Dressage for Kids, 2014 Michigan Virtual High School Chemistry Scholarship, 2013 and 2014 Jonathan Wentz Memorial Scholarship, 2014 Courtney’s Quest Scholarship, and the 2014 Women’s Sports Foundation Travel and Training Grant.
Between riding and maintaining her Honors student status at Skyline High School, Collier enjoys sharing her story and goals as a motivational speaker around the country. She not only speaks to groups and individuals in the equestrian world but she also enjoys speaks with groups with varied interests throughout the community including 4-H clubs.
Collier is an outstanding representative for the 2014 Junior Equestrian of the Year Award. Hope Hand, Paralympian and President of the United States Para-Equestrian Association, acknowledged, “This is an exciting achievement for Sydney. She has worked tirelessly as an athlete and student to achieve her goals. I have watched her grow as an individual over the past 5 years and her positive attitude and determination has been felt by everyone that has ever reached out to Sydney. She will humbly tell anyone that asks that she had the best mentor and advisor, the late Jonathan Wentz, who has guided her path to success. Jonathan was the driving force behind the Para-Dressage Junior and Young Rider Program, but it still takes a talented rider to carry on his mission to be the best in the world. I am so proud of Sydney.”
Hand continued, “On behalf of the Para-Equestrian discipline I would like to thank USEF for acknowledging this outstanding athlete.”
Collier is excited to look towards the future as she aims for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. For more information about Sydney Collier, please visit www.SydsParaQuest.com.
For more information on the 2015 USEF Annual Meeting, visit https://www.usef.org/convention/Default.aspx.
About United States Para-Equestrian Association:
The USPEA is a network of riders, judges, national federation board members, and equestrian enthusiasts. The association gives athletes the ability to get involved and expand their knowledge and experience in the Para-Equestrian sport. The USPEA encourages para-athletes to participate in all disciplines under the para-equestrian umbrella.
The USPEA is a recognized affiliate of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) which serves as the National Governing Body for the equestrian sport. This relationship between the USPEA and USEF is to encourage para-equestrian competitors, leisure riders, coaches, fans and enthusiasts to network and get involved with the entire equestrian sport.
Ultimately the goal of the USPEA is to foster growth in the para-equestrian discipline. From growth in the number of participants to growth as a team, and growth in the experience and knowledge of all involved. From local horse shows to international Olympic Games, the USPEA will provide para-equestrians the knowledge of what they need to succeed. The USPEA connects with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI), the United States Dressage Federation (USDF), and USEF which provides Para-Equestrians the top equestrian resources.
In June 2010, the USPEA earned its 501 (c)(3) status which has encouraged supporters to help supply funding to the Para-Equestrian Team as a recognized affiliate of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF).