SILT - As a 13-year-old who has been barrel racing since she was 4, it seems clear Sydney Surin of Silt has been in the sport for the long haul.
Yet she plans to compete a lot longer.
"I want to do it as a career," she said. "I want to do it the rest of my life."
On Sept. 9, Surin became the National Barrel Horse Association (NBHA) Colorado State Champion for the 18 and under division, claiming her title after two days of racing at the Garfield County Fairgrounds.
This year has been a banner one for Surin in terms of rodeo results, and a busy one too - the teen earned first place in 47 of the 54 races she entered in the 18-and-under division.
And with the NBHA district finals in Rifle approaching Oct. 6-7, Surin maintains a sizable lead in the division standings, making her a clear favorite to win that event.
Surin is also ranked second in the NBHA women's open class, meaning she sits ahead of many women more than twice her age.
"I have a lot of friends that I race with who are in their 20s and 30s," she said.
Earning those rankings has meant a lot of time training this year, and a lot of time on the road. But neither Sydney nor her biggest cheerleaders are complaining.
"We've been out racing almost every weekend," said Vivian Surin, Sydney's mother. "We go out as a family."
The younger Surin said she trains every day after school, often working her horses on a back-country trail on Bureau of Land Management land near her home in Silt. In the past, she has sometimes ridden twice a day, also taking her horses for a morning ride before the school day begins.
Those horses, named Zans Sugar Chick and Zans Baby Chick, have already brought Surin plenty of rodeo success. Yet her family recently invested in her racing future by breeding Zans Sugar Chick with Dash Ta Fame, a chestnut stallion renowned for siring fast quarter horses and barrel racing horses.
The Surins hope the product of that pairing, a filly named Chicky Sugs Perfection Ta Fame, will be Sydney's barrel racing horse through high school and college. They also hope to enter it in futurities, or track horse races, starting in 2014.
Sydney Surin was introduced to barrel racing through her father, Dan, who competed in Little Britches rodeo events when he was younger before moving on to other sports.
The family lived in Glenwood Springs until 2003, when they bought a home in Silt that came with several horses. Sydney took a keen interest in the animals, and began to ride seriously shortly after the move.
Although Surin sometimes competes in other events at rodeos around the state, she said barrel racing is her favorite, for one simple reason.
"I love riding my horse because we love going fast," she said.