How I came to this quest?
When I was 7 years old, I discovered my love of horses and horseback riding. I could not spend enough time with horses and riding activities. I loved riding so much that I competed in eventing, dressage, and jumping disciplines. I dreamed about some day competing on a national and international level. That is still my dream.
However, at the same age I began to have some problems with blurry vision. My parents took me to several doctors, and I was eventually diagnosed with Wyburn-Mason Syndrome, a rare condition that involves fragile, malformed vessels and arteries (AVM’s) behind my eye and in my brain. You can read more about Wyburn-Mason Syndrome and my medical history in the "About Sydney" section of the website. This diagnosis would change my life and bring me to my quest.
Wyburn-Mason and the resulting medical treatments caused me to develop problems with coordination, weakness in my left side and blindness in my right eye. During one of my brain surgeries, when I was 11 years old, I had a stroke that put me in wheelchair. I could not imagine a world without riding horses or caring for my horse. I could not let this stop me. So I began the task of relearning to walk and use my arm and hand again. .
I remembered that there were disabled riders who still compete. They did not let their disabilities stop them. There had to be a way for me to realize my dream of riding competitively again. Then it happened. I found out about the United States Para-Equestrian Association, USPEA, while I was at World Equestrian Games in Kentucky. I saw the most amazing dressage during the para-equestrian competitions. I was lucky enough to meet so many of the para-riders who really encouraged me to pursue my dream. But it was the late, Jonathan Wentz who introduced me to Hope Hand, the president of the USPEA. They both encouraged me to get classified and join the USPEA. I realize I could do this.
There are a lot of things that have to happen before you can compete at the elite levels that the Paralympians and Para-Equestrians do. I know I still have hours of training, conditioning, physical and occupational therapy, fund raising, showing, and, oh yeah, school (I’m an honor roll student, too!). But with the help and support of my team, family, friends, and sponsors, I am determined to succeed!