SHERIDAN — Samantha Taylor and Charlie Carrel recently wagered against one another. Taylor bet Carrel — the owner of Colts Unlimited — that if she placed anywhere in the top three at the American Quarter Horse Youth Association Championships that Carrel would have to clean all of Taylor’s horse tacks.
Carrel has some work to do. And Taylor intends to hold him to that.
Taylor claimed the AQHYA World Championship in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, a couple weekends ago. The victory solidified her talent and potential in a sport the 14-year-old has competed in for more than half her life.
Taylor wanted to show jump horses ever since she turned 5 years old. One day while playing in her backyard, she watched Carrel work with a horse just across the street, guiding it through various obstacles.
“I went up to my parents, because I saw Charlie jumping one of the big horses out in the pasture, and I told them I wanted to do it,” Taylor said.
Taylor grew up in a western saddle, riding for pleasure during the early stages of her life. Her mother, Crystal, and father, Bart, have deep equine interests that involve rodeoing, polo and ranching. So having one of their kids grow interested in a horse-related sport didn’t come as a big surprise.
Horse jumping involves an English saddle and a horse equipped with more speed and athleticism than a typical western horse. The transition for Samantha Taylor from western saddle to English saddle didn’t always prove easy.
“I went through a lot by doing a bunch of different horses like western pleasure horses and trail horses,” Taylor said. “They’re very different because western pleasure horses are very slow, so I had to go through a couple different western horses, and then I finally got there.”
Taylor competed in her first show-jumping competition when she turned 8 and her skill and love of the sport blossomed from there. Taylor has jumped horses all over the western United States in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Oregon and has enjoyed the experiences she’s gained throughout the years.
“I love just getting to be with the horses and kind of explore different places,” Taylor said.
The love for show jumping has permeated throughout Taylor’s entire family. Bart Taylor started jumping as a way to bond with his daughter. Crystal Taylor fulfilled a lifelong interest in the sport and finally gave it a go with her daughter’s push. And Samantha Taylor’s little brother, Ryan, has begun show jumping, as well.
But Samantha Taylor currently has bragging rights in the household after winning the AQHYA World Championship.
“It was out of this world to watch her do it,” Taylor’s mother said. “The whole family made it out to watch her.”
Taylor won the jumping event on the horse Chances are Wild and claimed reserve champion honors in jumping atop the horse Red Bird. She also competed with both horses in equitation and working hunter divisions.
Chances are Wild and Red Bird are quite different from one another and Taylor, prior to the world championships, hadn’t had that much practice time on the back of Chances are Wild, which added another element of difficulty to the competition.
“It can be hard, especially when the horses are so very different,” Taylor said. “One is taller and has a bigger stride, and the other one is smaller and has a slightly smaller stride, but likes to jump a little bigger.”
Taylor has shown marked improvement in show jumping as she placed fourth last year at the same competition. She will continue practicing while also balancing school and cross-country for the next couple of months.
Taylor hopes some day to compete for an Olympic spot. For now though, she’ll settle for world championships and winning bragging rights and wagers against her family and friends.