Not many know this, but we have some tremendous accomplished equestrians in our area! Local pro, Sydney Conley Elliott has qualified for the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event at Kentucky Horse Park in late April 2016 and is raising funds for her journey!

The Road to Rolex fundraiser is Tuesday, March 22, 2016 at River City Grill on Benton Road in Bossier City from 5-9pm. We certainly hope you'll make plans to come out for a great meal and support Sydney on her journey!

Rolex Kentucky is classified as a CCI**** or 'four star' event, which is the highest level of eventing. There are only five other four star events in the world. There's a lot of discussion on whether or not the equestrian portion of the Olympics qualifies as a three star or a four star event. While the FEI (Federation Equestre Internationale) lists the Olympics as a four star event, many feel as if it's a 'soft' four, which means that not only is Rolex tougher than an Olympic course, Elliott will be competing against the best in the WORLD while many will be scrambling for team spots in time for Rio 2016 in August. I should probably mention Sydney is looking for a spot on Team USA. Her application went in last week! Fingers crossed!

Eventing Nation recently published an article ranking Elliott in the top five riders at the CCI3* level in front of the annual Pine Top event which took place this weekend where she placed third overall. Here's what EN writer Maggie Deatrick had to say about Sydney and her equine partner Cisko A in her story By the Numbers: Pine Top CIC3*:

Sydney built quite a solid resume with this horse in 2015 en route to qualifying for their first four-star. With more experience under their belt now, these two will be looking for a solid run to begin the season.

I got the chance to catch up with Sydney over the weekend and get some background on how she arrived on the road to Rolex and possibly even to this year's Olympic games!

1. How long have you been riding and how did you get your start?

I've been riding since I was 7. Got my start by being a horse crazy kid and found Holly Hill by chance one day with my mom. Also, Pony Land with Mr. Murrell way back in the day. We used to go out and rent horses to ride for the day when I was a kid.

2. Tell us how Cisko came in to your life and about your partnership.

Cisko came into my life through the Stephens. They're a very special family who wanted a horse for me to campaign. We went on a horse shopping trip in Europe and found Cisko in Germany a couple summers ago.

3. Tell us about the qualification process for Rolex.

The qualifications for Rolex are quite intense and can take years to qualify for. I was very lucky to have such a talented horse in Cisko because it only took us two years. We start prepping the Rolex hopefuls at a very early age.

4. Name some people who were instrumental in your journey.

Regis Webb, she's taught me from a very young kid and still teaches me on a weekly basis to this day. The O'Connors, the Hewletts and of course Cisko's owners!

5. What do you do to stay fit for competition other than riding?

My great friend Carley keeps me fit and in the gym weekly when I'm home from competing. Weights, cardio, biking, marathons and the occasional duathlon.

6. What does your husband think about your passion for horses?

Oh the husband... it's very stressful being away from home so much but we make the most of it! He is my biggest fan, always. He is not a horse person whatsoever, but loves to watch Cisko run around the major events. It does make him quite nervous when I run cross country, I just found that out recently... I think it's pretty cute.