Apr 05, 2022

USEA Collegiate Member: Sydney Shinn, FEI Competitor and Full-Time Student at USC-Aiken

By Claire Kelley - USEA Staff
Sydney Shinn riding Nyconn Cat. USEA/KTB Creative Group photo

For years the USC-Aiken eventing team has brought team spirit, school pride, and successful upper-level event riders to the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Program. Sydney Shinn, a USEA collegiate member, full-time student at USC-Aiken, and CCI3* event rider is one of them. Last year, Shinn competed two horses at the Intermediate/CCI3* level. The first horse was her own 17-year-old Thoroughbred mare, Paprika (Shadow Show x Nifty) and the second horse was Nyconn Cat (Tale of the Cat x Point Missed) a 13-year-old Thoroughbred gelding owned by Kimberly Carrell. She finished fifth at the Morven CCI3*-S and third in the Intermediate division at Fair Hill H.T. with Nyconn Cat, and she finished second in the Intermediate division at Pine Top Spring H.T. and Pine Top Advanced H.T. with Paprika. In addition to her upper-level mounts, she also competes her 6-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, HSH Crypto (Casallco x Cumano Kiss) at the Training level.

Shinn was ranked #2 on the 2021 USEA Preliminary Intercollegiate Rider of the Year leaderboard and #4 on the 2021 USEA Intermediate Intercollegiate Rider of the Year leaderboard. So, how does the full-time student, USC-Aiken team member, and upper-level event manage it all? Learn from Shinn herself with the interview below.

USEA: How do you balance horses, school, and being a member of the USC-Aiken eventing team?

Shinn: I do my best to stay as organized as possible with my schoolwork that is due, my horses’ exercise schedule, and keeping up with team meetings and fundraising. I have an incredible support system that allows me to focus more time on school when I need to and adjust my schedule when I get overwhelmed. I make minty German muffins throughout the year to fundraise money for our team. I know that horses love them because I always keep some for my own to make sure they approve.

USEA: Can you share what your daily schedule looks like as a student and rider?

Shinn: I start the day by going out to feed my horses, then will go to work for the day. Once I’m finished working, I head back to the barn to feed and ride, then when I get home, I spend several hours on school about five days a week. I try to get all the schoolwork for the week done by Thursday so that I can spend weekends focusing on the horses and not feeling rushed to get finished. Creating a block type of schedule has seemed to be the easiest way to stay on track.

USEA/ KTB Creative Group photo.

USEA: What is one piece of advice you’d give younger riders who might be interested in attending college and riding at the same time?

Shinn: Many people feel discouraged by the idea of being a full-time student and pursuing their riding career. I am here to assure you that it is very possible, especially if you find a great program that can take a little of the load off when it gets too heavy. There are many opportunities especially in Aiken to be in a training program that allows you to continue riding but on a more dialed back scale such as three days a week if you are drowning in school or approaching exam week. Aiken has many great riding opportunities and great coaches to help you gain the experience you need to succeed in eventing. It is all about the support behind you, and there are people out there that want to see you succeed and do their best to help you along your journey to the top of the sport.

USEA: Overall, how has the USC-Aiken eventing team helped you to continue eventing while in school?

Shinn: I have been very lucky to have a great group of riders on my team. When I find myself needing more time in school, I can ask around my teammates and they will make sure my horse gets the exercise she needs. I can trust them to look after my horse as if she were their own, and this allows me to focus and not worry about the horses in these moments. I am grateful for the support the team gives, and the friends I have gained in the process. We do our best to support each other at shows and even in schooling days such as Bruce’s Field Tuesdays.

Make sure to save the date for the 2022 USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championships that will be held on May 21-22 at Chattahoochee Hills H.T. in Fairburn, Georgia. More details can be found here.

About the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Program

The USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Program was established in 2014 to provide a framework within which eventing teams and individual competitors could flourish at universities and colleges across the country. The USEA offers a discount of $25 on annual USEA memberships for current students of universities and colleges registered as Affiliates with the USEA. Many events across the country now offer Intercollegiate Team Challenges where collegiate eventers can compete individually as well as on teams with their fellow students. In Intercollegiate Team Challenges, each rider’s score is multiplied by a coefficient appropriate for their level to account for differences in level difficulty, and then the individual scores are added together to determine the team score. Click here to learn more about the Intercollegiate Eventing Program.

The USEA would like to thank Bates Saddles, EQuine AMerica Magazine, FITS, Kerrits, USEF, World Equestrian Brands, and Saratoga Horseworks for sponsoring the Intercollegiate Eventing Program.

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Blast from the Past: Compete in a USEA Classic Series Event in 2023

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Rescue Horse Runaway Romeo Finds His Calling

Amanda Walker wasn’t sure what she’d gotten herself into when she went to try Runaway Romeo as a potential sales project in 2018. The gelding was a bit bigger than Walker was looking for and was quite pushy coming out of the stall. When she got on, it didn’t get much better.

Jan 31, 2023 Educational Activities

USEA's Tip Tuesday: Cross-Country Positions with Karen O'Connor

For seasoned and novice riders alike, it is always good to revisit the basics. Serving as the foundation for any eventer, the positions used on the cross-country course differ from those in the dressage or show jumping ring. The USEA tuned into five-time Olympian, three-time World Equestrian Games rider, two Pan-American Games rider, and USEA ECP certified coach Karen O'Connor as she walked coaches and students at the USEA ECP Symposium through the basic positions for effective cross-country riding.

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