story by Lindsay Humphrey Six years ago, McKenna Rud swung her leg over a 3-year-old gelding named Laredo and he’s been her main mount ever […]
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Meet the Member Sydnie Graves
story by Lindsay Humphrey
Blonde hair and glitter fringe is about all you’ll see of Sydnie Wynn Graves when she’s astride one of her two barrel horses. At just 8 years old, Sydnie is qualified for the Jr NFR for the second year in a row. In 2019, she was the youngest contestant in history to run the cloverleaf patter at the Jr World Finals in Las Vegas at age 7. This Hartshorn, Oklahoma, cowgirl is no stranger to breaking records. “When Sydnie was 6 years old, she was the 2D champion in the BFA [Barrel Futurity of America] youth race,” said her dad, Lance Graves. “She is the record holder for being the youngest title winner in the BFA.” The first time Sydnie made a run in the BFA, she was only four years old. Her ability to sit deep around a barrel is attributed to exceptional core strength.
“Little kids need a lot of core strength to hold themselves down in a saddle around a barrel. Sydnie could pull herself out of her crib and carrier before she could even walk. It’s given her an edge in barrel racing,” Lance added. That natural born edge lends itself to Sydnie’s ability to pilot a 12-year-old palomino stallion named “Aspecial Firewater, affectionally known as Marvin, on loan from Mary Carter. Retired since 2018, Marvin’s been busy standing at stud until Sydnie swung a leg over his back. “The first day I got him I was so nervous. When I saw him, my eyes got so big because he was so tiny and cute,” Sydnie recounted. “I’ve only ridden a couple stallions, so I’m really excited about him. He has a tiny beautiful head but he’s also fast.” His big stride is a trademark of his Fire Water Flint pedigree.
Marvin will be one of two mounts when Sydnie splits her time between the All IN Barrel Race in Stephenville and the Jr World Finals in Fort Worth. “There’s about 80 miles between the two events. We’ll be down there for 12 days in a row and driving between the two venus,” her dad added. Each time Sydnie makes a run it’s to the beat of Girls, Girls, Girls by legendary rock band Motley Crue. One of Sydnie’s biggest fans, and a Graves’ family friend, is lead singer Vince Neil who flies in to watch her run. Sydnie’s other biggest fan is her older sister, Macie. “We’re pretty busy people; we like to be involved. We split our time between Sydnie and Macie’s activities. They both try to support each other,” Lance said.
Macie couldn’t make it to Las Vegas to watch her little sister because of a basketball tournament, but this year is different. It’s only a three-hour drive to each arena where Sydnie will be running. It’s now a viable option for Macie to support her sister in person. When Sydnie isn’t competing or practicing, she enjoys a myriad of activities. Including basketball. “I like to dance, sing a little bit, and I like to show my pig named Oliver,” she said. This Kinta Public Schools third grader also enjoys learning, which makes school another one of her favorite pastimes.
Back in February, Sydnie ran in a KK Run for Vegas qualifier the LG International barrel race but was one spot out from making it to the Jr World Finals. As fate would have it, another qualifier made its way to the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma, after a last-minute cancelation. Buckled into the truck by 4 a.m., Sydnie made her run at 8 and was right on the money. She qualified on Nikki Nick Bar (a.k.a Nicki). “Nicki did really good. She felt really good because she has a big stride and I always get excited because she gets excited in the alley. It was fun,” Sydnie said. Although Sydnie’s dad and sister are her immediate support system, there are a few others who helped get her the Jr World Finals this year. “We really want to express our appreciation for Benette Little and Mary Carter for providing Nicki and Marvin. It’s really fun for Sydnie to ride for them. We also want to thank our sponsors: Bluebonnet Feeds, Best Ever Saddle Pads and Zesterra Supplements.”