updated 06/22/1981 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/22/1981 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Sydney Stang, 16, has mastered a set of riding tricks that would shame a Hollywood stunt specialist—and in the process has become America's No. 1 horse vaulter. In this sport, which has now taken hold in the U.S. (especially in California), a rider performs acrobatics atop a steed cantering around a 13-meter circle. The techniques date back two millennia, when they were developed to train the Roman cavalry. "It's more challenging than gymnastics," says Sydney, "because you never know exactly what the animal is going to do—slow down or speed up." Daughter of a Saratoga, Calif. aerospace executive and an equestrienne mom, Stang first rode at 2. In 1974 some of her pals took up vaulting; forbidden by her mother to join, Sydney started to practice stunts on the brick wall in front of the house. "I was afraid she would kill herself so I let her try vaulting," recalls Adrienne Stang. By 1978 Sydney, riding her horse Whisper (above), had become the American Vaulting Association's best woman and now she also tops the men. Her team, the Sundance Vaulters, finished fourth in its first international meet in Paris last December. A high school junior, Sydney practices vaulting daily; this summer's nationals are in Hollister, Calif. and, she frets, with no facetiousness: "There are some excellent young people coming up."

Bryan Bantry, 24, can afford to swathe virtually the entire Ivy League in his beloved preppy attire, thanks to his earnings as a high-fashion agent. His clients—photographers, hairstylists, makeup artists—work for magazines like Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, collecting top-of-the-line fees ($5,000 per photo, $1,000 per primping session). Bantry's cut ranges between 20 and 25 percent; in addition, he has invested in the chic Demarchelier eateries in Manhattan, whose habitués include Woody Allen, Tatum O'Neal, Warren Beatty and the sisters Hemingway. Bryan was born in Miami—he refuses to identify his father, but his mother is ex-model Soames Bantry—and raised in Europe and New York, where he was himself a child model. Though he uses his mother's surname, Bryan has been estranged from her since 16, when he moved out to begin his career as a rep. From a first-year gross of $3,000 (augmented by answering phones and doing laundry for a beauty parlor), he has built an income that he claims is "in the mid-six figures" and recently bought an East Side coop. Lately the bachelor has also been developing movie scripts because, he says, "I want to produce wonderful romantic comedies." Despite his old-school tastes, Bantry never went to college. "That," he observes, "would have just postponed my life."

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