A Cinderella Story

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Sweet Seniors! In October on YourDressage, we are celebrating the special horses in our lives that are ages 20 and up through photo galleries and exclusive stories. Join us all month long as we celebrate the ‘Golden Oldies’ of the dressage community!  Here, an adult amateur from Region 6 shares how teamwork played a crucial role in introducing an anxiety-riddled Morgan to dressage, where he has thrived.

By Heather Hale

Photos by Avalon Photography and Heather Hale Photography

ShadyShadow Taylor Made, known affectionately as Taylor, has a bit of a Cinderella story. Taylor is a 21-year-old Morgan gelding, with a classic “old school” Morgan look. Sporting large sloping shoulders, and a thick arched neck, he appears much bigger than his height of 14.3 hands. Taylor came to us from a western pleasure and trail riding background, and less than a year later, performed his first dressage test at the age of 18. He is proof that you are never too old to learn new things, and that teamwork can help us all reach new heights.

In the fall of 2018, 17-year-old Taylor came to live at Laine Mountain Farm in Arlington, Washington. The farm owner, Chris Laine, had purchased Taylor to be a riding horse for beginners or family visitors who wanted to come ride, but didn’t have much experience.

At that time, I had been working on the farm for years, saddling horses for trainer Lorinda Blue and grooming at Morgan shows. Lorinda began to work with Taylor and evaluate his level of training. It was soon very apparent he had a lot of anxiety, especially under saddle. He could be rushy and spooky, and very strong. He was not well-suited as a beginner’s horse. At this point, it was uncertain what Taylor’s job would be.

I was currently without a horse to ride, and with Chris’ encouragement and blessing, I began riding Taylor under Lorinda’s direction. I’m always game for a project, and this gave us some time over the winter to get to know him and see what he wanted to do.

We began working western, as that was both of our backgrounds. After a few months of riding him, I could feel the athleticism in this horse. He really liked to move out, and was enthusiastic about the work (sometimes too enthusiastic). We decided to throw a dressage saddle on him and see what happened. It turned out he was quite talented at both traditional and western dressage.

We competed in dressage at two Morgan shows in 2019, starting out at Training Level, at the age of 18. We had high hopes of First Level in 2020, but the show season was ultimately shut down. We did compete in some online shows, and were given a taste of Taylor’s potential, if anxiety were not a factor. Working in our home arena was a confidence boost for both of us.

2021 came, and at the age of 20, Taylor competed in First Level, taking home the high score award at the Key Classic Morgan Show. Unfortunately, I suffered a back injury that summer, and had to sit out the rest of the competition season.

This past year, at the age of 21, Taylor has continued to improve and impress. We made our Second Level debut at the C-Fair Regional show this August, both in western and traditional dressage. He also brought home champion honors in the Morgan Sport Horse Under Saddle division.

Taylor is fortunate to have landed at a farm with Chris, who has always championed Morgans in dressage. She has had unwavering support for him and I as a team, and has given him a wonderful home where he can live out his days. He has a trainer in Lorinda who is fair, understanding, and will always reward the try. And he has a rider in me who won’t ever give up on him. Together, as a team, we have the pleasure of being on this journey with him and each other, reaching heights we never thought possible.

This little big horse has so much try, and really strives to do well at whatever we ask of him. Anxiety and tension will forever be a battle for him, but he is learning to trust his rider, and allowing us to work together as a team. It can be challenging to overcome all this emotional baggage, especially in an older horse. Taylor has made great strides, is surrounded by a wonderful team, and going strong. It is our hope to compete in dressage at the Morgan Grand National in Oklahoma City in 2023.. standby!

You can follow Taylor’s journey on his Instagram!

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