Friday night will be a big night for a 10-year-old cowgirl from Nicholasville. When the sun sets, the lights will go up at the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park for the Oleika Shrine Temple’s fundraiser rodeo. And Sydney Poor will join members of the International Pro Rodeo Association in putting on a show.
Sydney’s mom, Carmon, got a phone call at the beginning of the week asking if Sydney would be interested in riding in the exhibition portion of the rodeo show at the horse park for the fundraiser. And while Sydney rides in barrel races with her horse, Holly, at about two to three competitions each month, Friday night’s race will be one she plans to remember for a while.
“I was real excited when I found out they wanted me to ride,” Sydney said. “It’s pretty rare for a kid to be asked to ride at the show.”
Normally Sydney and Holly ride in Kentucky Junior Rodeo Association events with other children in eighth grade or below. But Friday night, she’ll be riding with professional rodeo-ers who ride in a traveling circuit.
But Sydney said she’s not too nervous to take to the arena floor in front of potentially thousands of spectators Friday night. Sydney will have a cheering section full of family including her parents, Carmon and David; her sister, Savannah; and grandparents Butch “Ahah” and Brenda Hager.
And she’s got a lot of faith in her barrel-racing partner, Holly. Sydney has been riding Holly since she started barrel racing at the age of 7. And the two have gotten quite close. Sydney feeds her peppermint sticks for treats, brushes her and spends at least an hour with her each day.
“I always believe in (Holly), no matter if it’s barrel racing or just hanging out with her, she’s got a good attitude I can tell,” Sydney said.
“I just like spending time with her ... even if I just hop on her and go around the barn and stuff.”
But Holly knows when it’s time to “do her job,” Carmon and Sydney agreed. When Friday rolls around, the duo will strap on their racing gear — protective boots for Holly and “western attire” complete with a cowgirl hat for Sydney.
“I start to tap her with my spurs, and she knows it’s time to wake up,” Sydney said. “She knows when she’s going to run. We do a thing where we spin around in circles. If we do one spin, that means it’s time for fun; if it’s two times, we’re going to go in; if three times, we’re going to win. Sometimes I do it four times to get her really going.”
“I just know it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
If you plan to go to the Oleika Shiners rodeo fundraiser:
Doors open at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and the show begins at 7:30 p.m. Children 10 and younger are free, and general admission tickets are $12. Proceeds will benefit the Oleika Shriners.