story by Michele Toberer At 12 years old, 7th grader, Braxton Guillot, has already been rodeoing half of his life, and certainly has roping calves […]
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Meet the Member Sydnie & Rylie Romero
story by Michele Toberer
Rylie and Sydnie Romero have a family filled with strong cowgirls and cowboys to inspire their rodeo dreams. Their mom, Mandy Walker Hebert grew up learning the ropes of breakaway and training horses from her mom, Peggy Philibert. “My family’s been breeding and training horses my whole life, and Mom is still feeding us all horses, it’s wonderful to see the girls riding horses that their family raised and trained. Gram keeps them trained, I keep them tuned, and the girls compete on them.” Rylie and Sydnie’s aunt and uncle, Gentry and Dusty Walker, and their children Hayden and Kinley also live on the Welsh, Louisiana family farm left to Mandy, her mother, and brother when their father, Kirk Walker passed away after a fight with pancreatic cancer. On the family farm they run cattle and have a turf grass farm. Mandy also owns a landscape supply company in Lafayette, The Grass & Rock Shoppe. The girls’ step-father, Beau Hebert is a team roper who supports his step-daughters and helps many aspiring ropers. His family business, Hebert’s Town and Country Dodge, keeps many rodeo families driving down the road in the latest Dodge trucks. Mandy is a Louisiana High School Rodeo Association alumna, and the sisters are enjoying competing in the same association she once did.
Sydnie is a 13-year-old eighth-grader in her third year with LJHSRA, and 11-year-old Rylie is in her rookie year. Sydnie has had success in the NLBRA, where she placed sixth in the world in breakaway roping at the finals last summer, and she’s won two all-around titles in a local junior rodeo association. She’s currently focusing her efforts on breakaway and goat tying and is excited for her future with her new breakaway horse, Keeper. “We bought Keeper from Lari Dee Guy just a few weeks before the NLBFR, so it was great to do so well on him there. He’s an 8-year-old bay gelding that acts more like a dog, he’s so silly!” Rylie is currently competing in barrels, poles, breakaway, and goat tying; and plans to add team roping and ribbon roping to the roster for seventh-grade. She loves riding her Gram’s bay gelding, Spook, in breakaway and pole bending. “It’s special riding horses my Gram trained, and if I’m ever having trouble, she can tell me exactly how I should ride him. It has been a great season so far and I’m super grateful for that.”
Outside of rodeo, the girls enjoy spending time with their dad and step-mom, Troy and Emily Romero, and although Troy, who is running for state representative, is more of a golfer and fisherman, he’s very supportive of the girls’ rodeo goals. Both girls are homeschooled, and Sydnie enjoys English and writing, while Rylie looks forward to learning about math and science. Rylie was a competitive gymnast for two years, and although she put competition aside for rodeo, she still practices on her balance beam and bar at home. The girls both spend time learning about clean and safe beauty products with their mom, helping her sell products from Beauty Counter. Mandy has recently fought breast cancer and has looked for ways to teach the girls about healthier options for their bodies. “We really had to become more independent since mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She used to do everything for us, but we’ve had to start taking more responsibility for saddling and other chores with the animals,” explained Rylie. Texas A & M is the dream school for both Sydnie and Rylie, where they aspire to be on the rodeo team. Sydnie plans to return to a position in the family business, and Rylie hopes to become a veterinarian.
The girls have a tribe of people supporting them, and are very grateful to Ariel Thigpen, who acts as a second-mom to the girls, helping with anything from school to house chores. “Mom is our primary coach, but we get help from several people like; Lari Dee Guy, Aunt Gentry, Jade Conner, and Hope Thompson.” They’re blessed to have a supportive family, including grandparents, Floy and Mark Habert, and rodeo friends like Bailey Mudd and McKenzie Floyd. Both girls are also sponsored by Heather Benson of Simply Equine.