Sydney Collier with Heather Wallace
Shortly after Sydney Collier began riding at age seven, she was diagnosed with the rare Wyburn-Mason Syndrome, a life-threatening condition that causes arteries and veins to grow together causing vascular malformations (AVMs) in the brain. Years of experimental treatment and a resulting massive stroke took a toll on her body, but she never relinquished the dream of returning to the saddle and the sport that she loved. Her belief and perseverance earned her a spot on the US Para Dressage Team at age 16, and Sydney was the youngest competitor at the 2014 World Equestrian Games in France. At age 18, she won the 2016 US Para Dressage National Championships and became the youngest member in the 2016 Equestrian Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro as a part of Team USA, placing seventh overall in her division. In addition to her Paralympic goals, Sydney has dedicated her life to service and maintains a busy schedule that includes athletic training, equestrian training, guest speaking, volunteering, babysitting, and giving riding demonstrations at a variety of events. She graduated DeVry University on an Olympic scholarship, majoring in communications and is currently working to finish her MBA, specializing in marketing, thanks to a scholarship from the United States Olympic Committee. Sydney has been awarded the FEI Against All Odds Award, USEF Junior Equestrian of the Year, and The Captain Andrew B. De Szinay Memorial Sportsman Trophy. She was featured in the 2022 feature documentaryParaGold, directed by Ron Davis, which follows the lives of four Paralympic equestrian hopefuls as they vie for a spot on the US Paralympic Dressage Team. Sydney is based in Wellington, Florida, where she is working to earn a place on the next team and help the USA stand on the medal podium.
Heather Wallace is the award-winning author of the books Confessions of a Timid Rider, Adulting with Horses, and Girl Forward: A Tale of One Woman's Unlikely Adventure in Mongolia. In addition, she publishes a popular blog called The Timid Rider and co-hosts the podcast Adulting with Horses. By day, Heather is a certified equine and canine sports massage therapist dedicated to helping animals holistically. She lives in New Jersey with her family, dogs, and horses.