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Meet the Member Sienna Ricciardi
story by Michele Toberer
Don’t tell me the sky is the limit, when there are footprints on the moon,” a saying that fuels twelve-year-old Sienna Ricciardi to keep pushing herself towards her rodeo aspirations. The sixth grade, Forsyth Country Day School student, began her rodeo career on a borrowed horse just three years ago, but her tremendous passion for the sport led to her buying her first horse, a tall, 19-year-old palomino quarter horse gelding named “Tex”, the next year. “My favorite event to run on Tex is barrel racing. I love his personality, he is all business and always gives all of his heart, but he has a sense of humor too.” Although this is only her second year competing in the Junior Southern Rodeo Association, she competes with a determination that’s roots run deep. Sienna was resolved to enter multiple events this year. After focusing her efforts in the practice pen, she now competes in barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying and breakaway roping. Although she was proud to accomplish her goal of starting to breakaway rope this year, goat tying is indeed her favorite event to compete in.
Sienna lives in Clemmons, North Carolina with her parents, Ralph and Chrisann, and older brother, Giovanni. Sienna’s parents both work in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Chrisann as an instructor at Forsyth Technical Community College, and Ralph as the owner of West End Auto Clinic. Their family time is split between supporting 16-year-old Giovanni at practice and his West Forsyth High School football games, and practice and rodeos for Sienna. “I’ve definitely been influenced by my brother’s work ethic when it comes to football. He inspires me to work harder.” Sienna has taken her brother’s lead in the training department, and trains on footwork and improving muscle strength, once a week at Momentum Personal Training in Winston Salem. She feels it helps her to be more athletic and quick on her feet as she ties goats. Before rodeo, Sienna was quite involved in basketball, competing in an Amateur Athletic Union girls’ basketball league, but had to trade in her basketball to keep up with the rodeo schedule she chose this past year. However, she does plan to play basketball in local games for her middle school this year, in addition to her third season with the JRSRA and her first season with the North Carolina Junior High Rodeo Association.
This past January, Sienna started weekly lessons with Believe to Achieve rodeo coach, Tracy Morris, who specializes in working with youth rodeo athletes. Sienna notes that she observed positive changes in her ability, and has placed more in her events, since starting her lessons. Besides practicing at the Believe to Achieve arena, in Cleveland, North Carolina, Tracy often accompanies Sienna and other students to rodeos, loaning them horses, and coaching them throughout the rodeo, not only on how to excel in their events, but on how to be tough competitors. “Tracy always gets straight to the point. She is honest, and modest about her own accomplishments. She always makes her students believe that we can achieve whatever we want to.”
Time-management is an important skill learned early in the Ricciardi household, and Sienna manages to not only be a great student, practice and train for rodeos, and support her brother at football games; but also works part-time at the Oak Grove Farm and Equestrian Complex, in Lewisville, North Carolina, where her horse, Tex, is stabled. Typically, Sienna assists with cleaning stalls, watering and feeding, as well as turning out horses. When she does have some down-time at home, she likes to watch her favorite football team, the Dallas Cowboys, or watch cooking shows on television, while she cuddles with her favorite chihuahua, Chloe. When looking to the future, Sienna dreams of attending Texas Tech University, and competing on their rodeo team, while studying for a career working with animals in some capacity.
Sienna believes that the JRSRA is unparalleled when it comes to the people running it. “They are always helpful, and I always appreciate everyone’s support.” Additionally, Sienna is very grateful for the support of her family, Tracy Morris, and her sponsor, the North Point Chrysler, Plymouth, Ram, Jeep Superstore of Winston Salem, North Carolina.