Local youth rider qualifies for world finals

Sydnie Wynn Graves

Sydnie Wynn Graves tied a world barrel racing record in her first decade of life.

The 7-year-old who goes to school in Kinta tied the record for the youngest person to qualify for the KK Run for Vegas/Junior World Finals after posting times of 15.7 seconds on two different horses at a qualifying event. She won her first professional title last year and is excited to compete at the World Finals.

So what’s the key to her early success?

“Usually every time I ride my horses, I always growl and yell at them,” she shyly said.

Sydnie Graves qualified for the world finals event after riding two horses with times of 15.7 seconds apiece at Diamonds and Dirt in Bryan, Texas.

She began riding 14-year-old mare Nicki Nick Bar, aka Nicki, owned by the Jud Little Ranch in Ardmore, in 2017 before the team claimed their first World Championship title at the Barrel Futurities of America’s (BFA) youth 2D World Championship in Oklahoma City. Graves became the youngest world champion in the 35-year history of the event.

Sydnie Graves also rides 10-year-old gelding JJJ Roscoe Bully Fame, aka Roscoe, owned by equine veterinarian Dr. J.J. Baldwin, who is also a professional barrel racer. Roscoe was previously trained when he was 3 years old by the older Graves before rejoining the family team.

She always wears a helmet when she rides and has three hand whips. She knows where each horse needs help in the run (Roscoe sometimes misses the first or third barrel), and realizes that each horse has a different personality.

Graves was born at the hospital in Talihina and now goes to school in Kinta.

Her dad grew up in the area and won his first world title at 7 years old before going on to win more than 30 championships in his decades-long career.

Lance Graves won the AQHA World Champion Junior Barrel Horse in 2003, 2007, 2008, 2010, and several other junior barrel titles early in his career.

He went on to win dozens of other championships, was the captain of the USA team at the International World cup Games 2012-2016, won individual gold and team silver at the 2015 World Cup, and more.

Lance Graves has competed in 19 countries and his horses are known around the world, but said he most enjoys seeing the success of his daughters.

“It’s been a good life and sharing it with them (his daughters) has been fun,” Graves said.

His daughter Macie Graves is also an accomplished rider with an Open Pole Bending Championship.

Lance Graves said it’s “more fun and it’s completely different” coaching his daughters than others throughout his career.

After winning several titles, Graves said it takes a strong will, ability to block out opinions, and a “different mindset to compete” for world titles.

“And she was born with it,” Graves said with a smiling chuckle.

Contact Adrian O’Hanlon III at aohanlon@mcalesternews.com

Contact Adrian O'Hanlon III by email at aohanlon@mcalesternews.com or on Twitter at @aohanlon3.