Can't keep her down
Warrior at The Patriot: Sydnie Romero Ropes Through the Pain, Aims for WCRA and ProRodeo Future

Sydnie Romero has been dealt a difficult hand, but it hasn’t kept the teen from competing on stages like The Patriot, nominating to the WCRA and planning big for her rodeo future.

Sydnie Romero and "Shady" run one down at the 2024 Hooey Jr. Patriot.
Sydnie Romero and "Shady" run one down at the 2024 Hooey Jr. Patriot. Photo by Andersen C Bar C

Sydnie Romero’s debilitating pain hasn’t kept her from finding a way to compete in the breakaway roping arena—even if that means she KT Tapes her wrist and wraps herself up in a back brace.

For the 18-year-old from Welsh, Louisiana, it’s been a grueling battle. In March 2021 Romero advanced to The American Rodeo Finals, eventually finishing No. 3 and winning $10,000. Just months later she was given a diagnosis the doctors had been working on for 2 years.

Despite the odds, Romero trots out of the arena with a beaming smile—planning on defeating her symptoms to get back to jackpotting, ProRodeoing and nominating to the WCRA so she can compete alongside sister Rylie Romero in the WCRA Triple Crown Events.

BRJ: Sydnie, what diagnoses are you dealing with?  

Romero: “In May 2022 I was diagnosed with Kienböck’s disease. The lunate bone in my right wrist was dying because it was losing blood circulation, so they had to go in and chip all the dead bone off in July. They drilled a hole in my hip and took bone marrow out for it. Because the disease is so rare they didn’t know how to treat it [in recovery], so I was in a cast for 3 months and did 1 month of physical therapy. I should have waited longer to rope again; I didn’t feel truly recovered until the beginning of 2023.”

One of the most recognizable things in the arena is your back brace—what’s going on there?

We don’t have a diagnosis there. It started in October 2023. All my pain is low back and sciatic. It’s a dull pain—not shooting or stabbing—but it’s constant and the only relief I get is lying down on my side. Sitting, standing, everything hurts. Higher up in my back I have an annular fissure and central protrusion, which is the start of a bulging disk…but that’s asymptomatic. I’ve been to a specialist in Louisiana and Dallas, and one injected my sciatic with a steroid, and one injected my lower back. I was told physical therapy would be my fix, and I’ve been in it for a month with no improvement. We’ve tried everything. I’m fighting through it.

Sydnie Romero fights through crippling back pain to compete at the 2024 Hooey Jr. Patriot.
Sydnie Romero fights through crippling back pain to compete at the 2024 Hooey Jr. Patriot. Photo by Andersen C Bar A

Does the last name Romero sound familiar? It should. Sydnie Romero’s younger sister Rylie has been tearing up the WCRA scene, entering the 2023 Women’s Rodeo World Championship as the No. 1 Breakaway Challenger. She’s competed at the 2023 WRCA Rodeo Carolina, 2024 WCRA Stampede At the E and is poised to take on the 2024 WCRA Rodeo Corpus Christi in a few short weeks. Sydnie has stood in the breakaway box alongside Rylie and taken in the world-class production the WCRA puts on.

“I competed in the Women’s Finals in 2021 and I can’t wait to get back into it,” She said. “Watching Rylie has lit my fire.”

What’s your pain day-to-day?

My pain is a six or seven out of ten. I wear a posture brace and it makes a huge difference, helping me keep my core tight. I’ve lost 20 pounds of muscle, and I am super weak in my legs. Every muscle in my body is trying to overcompensate for where I am weak—especially while roping.

What keeps you positive despite the pain?

There are so many friends and family who share kind words with me. They tell me how inspired they are by my fight, and it makes me want to tear up. I’ve fought this [back pain] for a few months now and I’m so glad I get to rope.

Speaking of roping, why are you competing?

So, I entered The Patriot because it’s one of my favorite events. I entered the 19 & Under Last Chance Qualifier and the 19 & Under Semifinals. But when my back got so bad, I knew I shouldn’t rope and thought I had scratched, but when I showed up [to The Patriot] my name was on the daysheet. So, since I was signed up, I decided to rope.

Tell me about the horse you’re riding.

I rode a 6-year-old “Shady” I started hauling last January. She takes care of me—she’s the only one I’ve been able to ride while hurt. We got her last January and I’d seen her grow up. She’d been to one futurity, and I bought her as a 4-year-old, coming 5 last year and she’s been a winner. I’ve placed on her nearly everywhere. Nothing is better than someone coming up to me and telling me how good she looks. I got her from Jeremy Landry. He was planning on selling her and wanted me to help get her ready to sell. When I rode her, I knew I had to have her. It’s amazing how much she’s grown and stepped up.

Smokin Lil Shady pedigree

What are some of your future plans?

I turned 18 last July, and since I’d been dealing with my wrist injury, I wanted to take the year off [from school] and rope. With my back now, I am looking at a couple of colleges to attend in the fall and get a business degree. I want to ProRodeo, but it’s on hold right now. I’m going to nominate to the WCRA once I’m feeling better too. The WCRA is awesome—my younger sister Rylie is very involved with them, and I have so much respect for how they run things.

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