The personal strengths that ushered Collier into a successful equine career have also enriched her life in general. The trainer from Buellton, Calif., spends more time analyzing and learn ing from observation than being creative, which has helped her realize how important mental strengths are to competition.
“Mentally, you just try to expect the very best,” Collier said. “You’re going to go in there and you’re going to be the best you can be on that day, on that horse, in that pen. Take all the negatives out of the mind. Go with what you have.”
That attitude has earned Sandy many acco lades in the performance horse industry. Equi-Stat reports her lifetime earnings in excess of $785,000. Arguably her most pronounced vic tory came in 1993 when she rode Miss Rey Dry to the National Reined Cow Horse Association World Championship Snaffle Bit Futurity Open Championship – the first and only woman to claim that prestigious title.
Collier has been a perennial finalist at all major NRCHA events, including many limited-age events and year-end Championships. She won the Z00Z American Quarter Horse Association World Champion Junior Working Cow Horse title riding Sheza Shinette and was the 1997 National Reining Horse Association Limited Open Reserve Champion on Quannah San.
Born in Massachusetts and raised in New England, Collier began showing at the age of 6. She commenced riding in an English saddle, competing in rugged three-day competition. Deciding to forego college at the age of 19, Collier was lured to California, where she went to work at the Tajiguas Ranch north of Santa Barbara. Shoeing, caring for and training horses were just part of her chores. She also ventured into leather-work, saddlemaking and rawhide braiding as she expanded her horizon.
Quality ranch horses, and her lifelong experience with three-event horses, soon attracted her to the cow horses. With help from trainer and judge Doug Ingersoll, Collier began showing at California Reined Cow Horse Association (predecessor of the NRCHA) events. In 1979, she relocated to Santa Ynez, where she spent a year working for trainer Tom Shelly before venturing out on her own.
“I know my involvement in three-day event ing was part of what attracted me to the reined cow horses,” Collier said. ‘The [NRCHA Futurity] is an amazing puzzle to put together on a 3-year-old horse. It is very challenging to put three totally different events together on a horse and keep him sound and happy – it is a real challenge.”
Collier is an NRCHA AAA judge, an AQHA cow horse judge and plans to work on her NRHA scoring credentials next year. She serves on the NRCHA board of directors and is chair man of the Sale Committee.
During those early years, while training a full string of horses, Collier v/orked part time as an emergency medical technician for a mobile life support company and later in a hospital emergency room.
Accomplished in many areas, Sandy has been an instrument-rated private pilot for 13 years, a self-proclaimed closet meteorologist, has a real estate license and is passionate about her work with the Santa Ynez Valley Therapeutic Riding Program. She has served on its advisory bbard and board of directors for three years, helping train their instructors as well as working with the kids, “as time per mits.” Most recently, Collier was named a 2011 inductee into the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame.