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Kiddie rides



Published: Fri, July 5, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Cowboy or coverboy?This charmer already has achieved success at both.

By AMY HOUSLEY

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

KYLE STERNTHAL IS SO GOOD AT performing -- on and off the ground -- he already has a room full of awards and he's due to be on the cover of an upcoming magazine.

And he's only 4.

Kyle began "riding" horses with his mother when he was only 6 months old. Vicki Sternthal said he had no choice then, but now "he's out in the barn all the time."

That would be because of his attachment to Lidell's Fire, his horse who goes by the nickname "Little Boy." The two are good friends; Kyle pulls on the horse's lead for a "mooch" and Little Boy leans down to nuzzle Kyle's cowboy hat.

The son of Vicki and Keith Sternthal, of Joshua Drive in Brookfield, Kyle also has a nickname, "Gus." As an infant, his mother jokingly called him a "fussy gussy." Gussy became Gus and the name stuck, kind of like he sticks to a saddle.

Competition

He is in his second year of "lead-line" competition class for riders ages 6 and under, in which they ride the horse with an adult leading.

Kyle's horse is led by his grandfather, Bill Phillips. The two dress in matching western outfits for shows -- from their shirts down to their boots.

Before the shows, Little Boy must be bathed and trimmed. Although Kyle is too little to trim, he does help to wash the horse.

His mother boasts the horse has the cleanest legs in town.

At the shows, the riders are judged by how well they ride, move with the horse, and placement of hands and feet. Kyle charms the female judges by tipping his hat to them.

Other events

He has also participated the New Star Discovery Most Beautiful Baby Contest, where he was judged on personality and photos. After winning his first competitions, he qualified for the state finals.

There, he performed on stage in seven categories. He won the Ohio/Pennsylvania title for his age group.

His mom said that his charm in horse shows carried over into the stage competitions, where he also would tip his hat to the judges.

He was first runner-up in the Mahoning Valley Parents Magazine Gotcha Covered Contest, where he was judged in an interview and photos. Winning the photo shoot put him in line for the magazine's cover.

Kyle also participates in tumbling classes at the YMCA, plays racquetball and will attend preschool in the fall.

So what does Kyle want to be when he grows up? "I don't know," he said, agreeing that cowboy might be a possibility.

Until then, Kyle spends his time with his family, playing with friends and, of course, riding.

"He's the best buddy I ever had in my life," said his grandfather.




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