Champion barrel racer Fallon Taylor takes on a new challenge every year: in 2018, she took up show jumping. This year, she took on the Retired Racehorse Project's Thoroughbred Makeover. Already a champion — she was the 2014 Women’s Professional Rodeo Association World Champion and 2018 American Quarter Horse Association World Champion, Taylor can add one more line to her deep resume: trainer of the 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover Champion, Cowboy Swagger.
Much like winning the average in a rodeo, Taylor and Cowboy Swagger’s consistent, steady performances earned them victory in the Barrel Racing discipline at the 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium at the Kentucky Horse Park, presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America.
Taylor didn’t lead after the horsemanship component, nor did she set the fastest times in the two daily barrel runs, but through those consistent performances she maintained the best overall scores in the division. After clinching the championship in Barrel Racing, Taylor’s fan base rallied behind her to vote her to the overall title.
In the TCA covered arena for the voting and award presentation, Cowboy Swagger stood quietly as the other horses circled around him, with just a set of reins around his neck and a massive blanket of roses that Taylor had made specially for her Thoroughbred barrel horse. A casual bystander might not guess that this horse just a few hours ago had been agilely turning barrels and sprinting for home flat-out in the same arena.
“I think the coolest thing about these Thoroughbreds is their demeanor,” Taylor commented. “This is a special, unique horse. I’m just sitting here with no bridle on, people all around, all these cameras pointed at him, and he’s completely unaffected.
“The Thoroughbreds want to please. And these guys are made to run — they’re made for this job. It’s our job to be kind, be patient and help these horses learn the pattern and learn their new job. We need to go out and get these horses and scoop them up!”
Taylor acquired Cowboy Swagger based on the advice of a friend who knew the horse on the track and loved his personality. He was bred in Oregon by Dr and Mrs Jack B Root Jr, and as of his last start on January 8, 2019, at Portland Meadows (he finished fifth) he was trained by Sam Dronen.
By Grindstone out of the Baquero mare One Fast Cowgirl, Cowboy Swagger made 16 career starts with three wins and total earnings of $20,299.
As a savvy social media personality, Taylor understands how to lever that fan base for a good cause. She’s documented her journey to the Makeover with Cowboy Swagger over the past few months, but that turned out to be just the beginning. “I documented every single ride that I took on this horse so that I can keep sharing that next year with my following and help more people try this competition,” she said.
“The horsemanship pattern was a challenge for me,” Taylor admitted earlier in the week. “But I like knowing that the horses are leaving the Makeover with a good foundation, especially if they’re selling at the Marketplace, to know that the next rider is going to have a really cool horse to play with later.”
So what this particular personal challenge taught Taylor that she’ll take away to apply to her other barrel horses? “I’ve had to really be patient with this horse, and that’s going to help me on my other horses as well,” she said.
2019 Thoroughbred Makeover other discipline cThehampions:
- Competitive Trail: Belfast Cowboy, trained by Toni Harmon
- Dressage: Fifth Ace, trained by Alison O’Dwyer
- Eventing: Sanimo, trained by Rosie Napravnik
- Field Hunter: Diplomat, trained by Sara Katz
- Freestyle: Grande Warrior, trained by Amy Bowers
- Polo: Great Reward, trained by Buck Schott
- Ranch Work: Silence Is Awesome, trained by Amber Jacobson
- Show Hunter: Furaha, trained by Susan Deal
- Show Jumper: Tenpin Sugar, trained by Katherine Deichmann
For full results from the Thoroughbred Makeover, click here.