Sydney Collier: Training, Studying, Motivating

Sydney Collier

She won the 2022 Reserve Champion title at the 2022 National Para Dressage Championships, was named the 2021 First Traveling Reserve for the Tokyo Paralympic Games, earned the 2020 Reserve Champion title at the 2020 National Championships, and Sydney Collier continues to make waves as a Para Dressage rider motivating many people around the world and touching the lives of every person she meets.

An average day for the Champion Para Dressage rider and Mane ‘n Tail’s Ambassador, Sydney Collier is very detailed and busy. She starts her day with either a dance class or a workout.  After dance class, Sydney will go to the gym or take some downtime to do schoolwork before her favorite time of day…barn time! Recently graduating with a degree in Communications, Sydney was immediately honored post-graduation, a full scholarship from the United States Paralympic Committee to further her education with a master’s degree from Keller Graduate School of Management, specializing in Marketing.  Outside of her schoolwork and training, Sydney is also focusing much of her time writing a book about her journey with the help of co-author, Heather Wallace, author of the book, Confessions of a Timid Rider.  Sydney is also working with the publisher, Trafalgar Square Books, who conduct their business on a farm in rural Vermont.

“In pursuing my master’s, working on the book and training towards my goals, my overarching daily motivation has always been for something much bigger than myself. My goal is always to motivate others to strive towards their own goals because I believe if there is one thing my story shows, it is that with enough determination and surrounding yourself with supportive people, anything is possible! The sky is the limit, and our responsibility is to keep striving to better ourselves and the world around us through our goals,” Sydney expresses.

Sydney’s favorite time of day comes in the early afternoon when she is horseback. She is currently focusing on her goal to earn her spot to represent the USA at the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris, along with currently training hard for the winter show season in Wellington, Florida. An average day of training typically focuses on her overall feel and relationship with her horse, Alle.

“With dressage it’s so easy to fall into a pattern of drilling certain movements, and with my weekly training I have found what helps me most is to really step back and focus on the relationship with my horse at its core, and from there we build on things like geometry and accuracy,” says Sydney.

Along her journey in and outside of the champion circle, Sydney relies on Mane ‘n Tail to help her horse achieve a flawless show ready shine. Mane ‘n Tail has been essential to her success for many years starting with her time being part of the Pony Club. Now, using her favorite products, Ultimate Gloss shampoo and conditioner, Sydney gives her Hanoverian horse, Alle and her Standard Poodle service dog, Logan, weekly bathes to lock in the shine and maintain the health and longevity of her animal’s coat. 

“Weekly bath time is always a favorite as well! Sudsing up Alle and getting to see his coat glisten after washing him with Ultimate Gloss is always so rewarding!” Sydney expresses.

With its pH balanced formula and natural ingredients, the ‘Boss of Gloss’ works like a dream to deep clean and remove dirt, dried sweat, and salty sand layers, while moisturizing the coat, mane, and tail to prevent breakage. Ultimate Gloss also contains protein and natural oils like coconut and avocado oil that help strengthen, volumize, and moisturize providing a high shine show ready finish. Whether you are soaring over jumps, practicing in the arena, hitting the trail, or entered in a rodeo, Mane ‘n Tail Ultimate Gloss is ‘Saddle Safe’™ so if you bathe your horse before you ride, your saddle will not slip.

“Ultimate Gloss shampoo and conditioner has a special place in my heart because it does such incredible things for Alle’s coat,” Sydney explains. “I love to see him shining his brightest, making him nice, glossy, and ready for the show ring!”

After Sydney is done bathing, she loves to use her favorite grooming tool, a glove style curry comb. With the convenience of this tool, she can give Alle a good massage and reach the hard-to-reach places as it contours and conforms to the body. It also provides her with a nice bonding experience and of course, some great scratches!

To take the shine up another notch Sydney follows with Mane ‘n Tail’s Shine-On finishing spray which is an excellent addition to any grooming routine. Shine-On is perfect for a last-minute swipe before walking in the show ring or an after-bath routine spritz, which can be sprayed directly on the coat or with a soft brush or rag.

“Since using Mane ‘n Tail products, my horse’s overall coat quality and skin health is constantly improving and looking its shiniest! With the help of Mane ‘n Tail I know I am always able to be show ring ready,” Sydney explains. “For riders at this elite level of sport it truly does take a village and I am very fortunate to have a groom I work closely with to keep Alle looking and feeling his absolute best no matter what!”

To shop Sydney’s favorite products, visit manentailequine.com or your local tack store or Tractor Supply nearest you!

Q&A with Sydney Collier – Instagram: @sydsparaquest

What is your favorite thing about horseback riding and why?

Can I say EVERYTHING?!? Ok, ok that might be a bit of a cop out answer…but my favorite thing about being an equestrian is that working with horses always keeps you on your toes and keeps you guessing. There is no perfect formula for it. The relationship with your horse is one built off trust, feel, silent communication, and that ability to have that feeling and the confidence in your communication with your horse is something so special that it is worth every up and every down. I also really love the time and dedication it takes, because let’s face it you can’t fake a relationship with your horse, it takes countless hours spent together in and outside of the saddle, and even on tough days they are always there for us. I feel so lucky to be surrounded by such wise creatures!

What is your favorite event/discipline and why?

Para-dressage obviously always has a very special place in my heart, the relationship that you develop with the horse when you only have limited body parts to communicate with them is unlike anything else that I have ever been lucky enough to experience, and from the first moment after my first stroke when I was struggling to accept myself horses always silently accepted me and the new version of who I was. It was that silent acceptance that helped me get through every challenge that seemed insurmountable at the time. That being said, if I had to pick a close second it would totally be the sport of three-day Eventing. When I first started riding at the age of seven, I immediately fell in love with Eventing and was always quite an adrenaline junkie, I set my goals high even as a 7-year-old eventer, I told my parents that one day my goal was to ride in Rolex and eventually the Olympics! I always felt like I was flying and was in sync with the horse I was riding. I also really love how Eventing combines 3 unique events into one sport creating a generally well-rounded horse!

Tell us about your horses and dogs and your favorite things about them

My horse’s name is Alle! Owned by my incredible horse owner Georgina Bloomberg, I have been lucky enough to work with him for 3 years and counting now! Alle is a 12-year-old Dark Bay Hanoverian, he is 17.2 hands which is funny because I am only 5’2 (on a good day), so you might think I would look small on him, but we suit each other nicely even though he is so big. He is quite a gentle giant! I know people often say their horses are like big dogs, but that is the truth with Alle! He would stand for hours for scratches, he licks you, he lets me lead him even in my wheelchair, he snuggles, and the list goes on! The most unique thing about Alle is that his show name is “All in One,” and he is blind in his left eye, and I am blind in my right eye, so we literally are “All in One”!

My Service dog’s name is Logan, he is a 6-year-old Standard Poodle. He came into my life 3 years ago as well, and we clicked immediately. He is a jokester type of dog; he doesn’t always joke around with you but when he does, he has you laughing for a good 5 minutes! He is such a hard worker, and he is always right there with me, helping me live my most independent life! I feel incredibly lucky to live life with him as my sidekick. His favorite ring side activity is lizard watching!

What is your most favorable horse accomplishment/win and why?

My favorite accomplishment so far was being first traveling reserve for Tokyo 2021, because I got to travel and train with Alle and the team going to Tokyo and Aachen Germany. I felt the trip brought me closer than ever with my passion for riding, and of course tested me in a lot of ways, but getting to experience it with Alle and my personal team behind the scenes was special and taught me a lot about myself, my goals, and Alle and I’s relationship!

Any advice for alleviating those show-ring jitters?

For many years I was afraid to admit I had show nerves, I think because the challenge of admitting that I had them almost felt insurmountable. I felt like if I admitted I had them, it would be something about me that I just couldn’t change. Looking back, I had that all wrong! In admitting I had them, I was able to seek out help to develop strategies to make them more manageable. If you are struggling with show nerves, don’t be afraid to accept that you have them, and don’t be afraid to seek out help in coming up with coping mechanisms! I know my work with sports Psychologists has been instrumental in overcoming my nerves related to showing.

What is your favorite part of competing or being in the show ring?

My favorite part of competing is really putting myself to the test – seeing how all the hours spent in training behind the scenes have paid off and hearing the judges’ feedback on what they think I could be doing better! I feel closer than ever with my horse when I go down centerline, the whole world just fades away and it is just he and I doing what we do best!

What are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about helping others to see their true potential! I feel like so often the world and our situations beat us down or make us feel like what is different or unique about us is not worth celebrating. I think it is just the opposite! We need to be celebrating our differences, everything that makes us who we are and setting goals to better ourselves and strive towards new horizons! Through my goals I want to help eliminate the stigma associated with disability, I want others to see that disability is just something that makes us who we are and is not something to be feared or discriminated against!

Any closing thoughts?

I just want to encourage YOU to keep striving towards your own goals! No matter what you are working towards I know you’ve got this! And if you ever get discouraged come back to your own “Why!” For me it is always my relationship with horses!

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