COLUMBIA — Most people’s childhood career dreams become idle fantasies as they grow up, but that’s not the case for Hannah Riddle.
Riddle, 20, of Ashland, and her horse Barney are a professional barrel racing team. Their first pro competition was the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Rodeo in Sedalia on Feb. 25.
Riddle fell in love with riding as a child when she and her mother would ride together on their farm in Orrick.
“I had just about anything a cowgirl could want there,” Riddle said. “An indoor area, an outdoor arena, tons of land.”
Riddle’s passion for riding continued as she grew up. She got her first barrel racing horse when she was four, and she and Barney compete in barrel racing competitions across the country.
Riddle started barrel racing with Barney in amateur competitions in 2007 when she was still in high school. At first, they didn’t mesh as a team, she said.
“He was ready, but I wasn’t with him," Riddle said. "He was one step ahead of me the whole time."
When Riddle moved to Columbia to attend MU, Barney came with her. The hours they spent together helped them grow closer.
“I learned how to be his friend, and it really started showing in the arena,” Riddle said.
Riddle placed in many amateur barrel racing competitions and was recognized as the 2009 United Rodeo Association Rookie of the Year. The rodeos were going so well for the pair that Riddle decided to start racing professionally.
At the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Rodeo, Riddle and Barney knocked over one of the barrels, causing them to be disqualified.
“Pro rodeos are different from the amateur rodeos in the sense that I’m not running against four good horses anymore," Riddle said. "I’m running against 15 to 40 barrel racers that are all capable of going in there and winning.”
However, Riddle remains positive.
“Barney’s definitely running even harder than he was last year,” she said. “And he’s only 11 — he’s just coming into his prime right now.”
Riddle has taken her first pro loss as motivation to do even better in the future.
“This goes to show that we can’t make mistakes anymore," she said. "We have to be 100 percent all the time. And we can get there.”
The test will come at the duo’s next race, the Barrel Bash, from March 25 to 27 at the Boone County Fairgrounds.