FRONTENAC — Little did the D’Amico’s know after the first time Taylor D’Amico took a ride on a pony that she would be all about horses for the rest of her life.
Family friends, Jerry and Mary Frazier, asked if Taylor would like to come over and ride a pony when she was about six years old.
“I always asked to go out to ride and then I wanted to show,” she said.
Her father, Larry, said he would support her endeavours as best as he could, but there was an ultimatum, she must have good grades.
“This is a big passion she’s had for the last six years,” he said.
Taylor, a freshman at Frontenac High School, said she stays pretty focused on her studies — biology, consumer education and construction being her favorite courses.
She even has plans for after graduation, to go into the agriculture field starting at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, in Miami, Oklahoma.
“I like it, it’s a really nice college and I can bring my horse,” Taylor said.
Until then, she plans to continue doing Western Pleasure horse shows.
Taylor said she is one of the few in her school interested in Western Pleasure — others are more interested in barrel racing — such as her friend Gracie whom she met in school and found a shared interest in horses.
However, Western Pleasure is a far cry from the speed of barrel racing.
“I like a horse slow and smooth and I like the challenge of trying to execute everything without error,” Taylor said.
In competition, a slight hand movement or even slightly off posture could cost the riders points.
“Posture could be a winning difference,” Taylor said.
Taylor thanked her trainer Merle Arbo, who helped get her started on her first horse, Austin, and then her second show horse, Reinbest In Da Light — a palomino Quarter Horse mare. She stands about 61 inches tall at the shoulders and weighs over half a ton, and is a perfect fit for Taylor who is barely 5 feet tall.
“They are like big dogs,” Taylor said. “Most are like super friendly and very cuddly.”
Her father agreed.
“They all have their own personality,” Larry said.
Taylor said she learned to be a team with her horse — an important aspect of doing well in the shows.
“You have to be a team,” she said. “You have to work for it, you can’t just hop on.”
Being in the Western Pleasure shows is like a big family, according to Taylor.
Others who take the training courses learn and bond with each other.
“The horse world is like a big family,” Taylor said. “If something happened to someone, we would all feel bad about it.”
This past year alone, Taylor has traveled to about eight events. Many of the shows have allowed her to travel across the United States — from Iowa, Mississippi and to Tulsa.
Her hard work and dedication to her horse and training has earned her many awards, including being a three-time world champion in the Palomino world.
At a Tulsa Color Breed Congress event, Taylor received a jacket on which she will proudly display patches she earned, she said.
Taylor said her most memorable moments are not winning, but making friends.
“I have only seen them once a year, but they are still my closest friends,” she said.
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.