Valley lawyer Wendy Riddell finds harmony on horseback
As the founding and managing partner of the law firm Riddell Bay, who specializes in all areas of real estate including development and construction, transactions and leasing, finance, litigation and more, Wendy Riddell is one of the Valley’s top rated lawyers .
The Phoenix native began practicing law in 1998. “I was lucky enough to be hired right out of school by Beus Gilbert. Ironically, my current partner, John Berry, was the hiring partner there at the time, ”she recalls. “Paul Gilbert, the firm’s co-founder, was very avant-garde and gave me the opportunity to practice law and be a new mother.
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After about six years with Beus Gilbert, Riddell had the opportunity to continue practicing with Berry. “John is focusing more on Scottsdale, whereas I have cases almost everywhere else in the valley,” she explains. “We have a very diverse practice, representing commercial and multi-family developers, home builders, healthcare providers – you name it.”
But when not running a successful law firm, Riddell trains with her horse for dressage competitions.
Riddell was introduced to dressage at a young age by her mother, who was a top athlete and competitor in the field. Dressage, derived from the French word “dresseur” for “training”, is an equestrian sport in which the horse and rider perform a series of compulsory movements and footwork the difficulty of which increases as they progress through the levels. . Similar to figure skating, movements are associated with sound, creating a musical free style. Riddell does traditional dressage, which requires English harness and saddle, which are flatter and less ornate than their Western counterparts.
As a young adult, Riddell competed professionally. She has received bronze, silver and gold medals from the United States Dressage Federation (USDF) and won numerous state and regional championships; it has also competed in destinations as far away as Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.
It wasn’t until Riddell attended Colgate University in upstate New York that she realized how important horse riding and competitive dressage was to her, and how passionate she was. by this sport.
“When I went to college, my parents told me I couldn’t have a horse. They wanted me to really experience college and told me they would be ready to talk after the first year if I got good grades. I lasted a whole week before I had to get back on horseback, ”Riddell recalls. “I had been riding since I was 4, so all I knew was ride every day. By the end of that first term at college, I had three horses in training with me. Considering the accomplishments I had already accomplished, many enthusiasts in the area were happy to pay me to ride and train their horses, and to teach them. It was then that I realized that this is a much needed passion in my life.
At 19, Riddell received a grant from the United States Equestrian Team (USEF), thanks to which she was on schedule to be an Olympic competitor. This allowed him to train and compete for a year with his personal horse at a farm just outside of Düsseldorf, Germany.
However, after competing internationally, Riddell decided that she didn’t want to be a full-time professional equine, but instead wanted to pursue law and start a family. “I finally met my husband the week I got home and started studying law at Arizona State University,” she comments.
Although Riddell is no longer involved in international competitions, she still engages locally and nationally with her two daughters, Kenzie, 19, and Kali, 15, who have ambitions to compete in Young Riders and Junior Young. . Rider programs, similar to the Junior Olympics and regulated by USDF and USEF.
“Dressage is a sport that attracts people who are very detail-oriented, competitive and structured,” says Riddell. “The number of Olympic gold medalists who are doctors or lawyers shows how attractive this type of person is. Both of my daughters have these personality traits, and I think that’s why they have become so interested in horseback riding and why they prefer competitive dressage to any other form of riding.
Equestrian sport has become not only a hobby that Riddell and his daughters are passionate about, but also one of their biggest sources of bonding time.
“I’m very lucky to be able to spend so much time with my daughters doing something that we all love,” Riddell notes. “A lot of times I’m asked how I can justify such an expensive hobby, but how many parents have the opportunity to spend all weekend time with their kids, who really want to be there with them? For me, sport has really brought my family together.
In addition to providing valuable family time, competitive dressage has provided Riddell with skills that she uses every day in her career.
“In competitive dressage, you need a lot of tenacity to compete with horses,” says Riddell. “You have to be prepared to understand it and make it work. With finesse and grace, I have to convince the horse to do what I want him to do. This skill is also very necessary and applied daily as a zoning lawyer.
Even with a busy work schedule, Riddell always finds time to ride.
“If there are circumstances that prevent me from riding a horse for a few days, my husband always tells me to find a horse somehow,” Riddell says. “It’s very peaceful, and it’s just a very important part of my life.”