Family is the most important thing to 16-year-old Sydney Riden, of Good Hope, Illinois.
It was family – parents, Scott and Mindy Riden, grandparents, aunts and sister have all shown horses all their lives and they got Sydney involved when she was just a toddler.
“My first show was when I was a year old in Lead Line on my pony, Mary Lou,” she recalled. “We would show every weekend. It was our family time together.”
Since then Sydney has continued to improve her riding skills and has branched out in many directions, with the help of several talented show partners.
She teamed with Ben Good To, a 1998 gelding by As Good As It Gets and out of Ben Tardy To, for Walk-Trot classes in 2004.
From there she competed aboard So Heres A Clue, a 1998 gelding by Zippos Mr Good Bar and out of Aprils Poco Cluso first in Walk-Trot classes and then in Youth Western Pleasure. She also tried out Halter competition showing The Finest Venture, a 2003 gelding by The Finest Kid and out of Miss String Venture in 2011 and 2012.
Now a senior at West Prairie High School in Sciota, Illinois, Sydney is very involved in her high school chapter of the Future Farmers of America (FFA), where she serves as president and is also the reporter for Section XI. She was also the 2014 Creed Speaking State winner for Illinois and has been competitive in many other events within the FFA.
Sydney also enjoys showing pigs at both the local and national level but says this year she is focusing on horse shows.
Her show partners in that venture are Raging To Zip, a 2011 chestnut gelding by Raging Impulse and out of Principles Lady Zip. She shows him in Western Pleasure classes. She is also competing aboard Chips Lucky Coupe, a 2009 bay gelding by Hocus Pocus Hotrod and out of Chips Cute Coupe, in Novice Youth Hunter Under Saddle.
“Both of my horses are very business-like when I am showing them but have great personalities otherwise,” she revealed. “Chips Lucky Coupe (Cooper) is a brat and likes to get in trouble when he gets bored. Raging To Zip (Ty) is sort of cocky. He knows he’s good.”
Last year Sydney and Ty placed sixth in 15-18 Novice Youth Western Pleasure at the All American Quarter Horse Congress. She also placed 12th in 15-18 Novice Youth Hunter Under Saddle there aboard Cooper.
This year she and Ty qualified for the American Quarter Horse Association Youth World Show in Western Pleasure and they placed in the Top Five in the Limited Non-Pro Western Pleasure Maturity at the Tom Powers Futurity in Michigan. Sydney and Cooper claimed a Circuit Championship in Novice Youth Hunter Under Saddle at the Big A in Georgia.
With numerous Circuit Championships to her credit this year with both horses, Sydney says she has had a great year and is looking forward to this year’s Congress.
“I have attended the Congress since I was two-months-old,” she said. “I have shown there a couple times. I love the atmosphere and watching the horses go around.”
She likes watching all the classes but her favorite, by far, is Western Pleasure.
“I have grown up showing Western Pleasure and have always enjoyed watching this class,” she said. “There are a lot of nice horses and I love trying to pick the winner.”
Although she knows which class she likes to watch the best. It’s not so easy deciding in which class she most likes to compete.
“That is a tough question,” she admitted. “I ride both Hunter Under Saddle and Western Pleasure and both of my horses are so much fun to ride that is makes it hard to decide which one I like most.”
What she does know, for sure, is that she is grateful for the opportunity to show horses.
“My mom and dad both are my biggest supporters and push me to be the best I could possibly be,” Sydney said. “I wouldn’t be showing horses or involved in FFA if it wasn’t for them. They are truly two of my best friends and biggest role models. I hope I can be half the parents they are to me. I also want to thank Travis Duit and my sister, Kaleigh Gasperi, for all they do in preparing my horses.”
After graduation from high school Sydney plans to attend Western Illinois University in Macomb.
“I want to be an agriculture education teacher,” she said, “because I have a strong passion for FFA and the agriculture industry.”