Drew Taylor has come a long way since getting run away with in the walk-trot class at the Upperville Colt & Horse Show (Va.) as a child. "They stapled something to the announcer's stand as the ponies went by the first time and that one was anti-noise!" Taylor fondly recalled.
This year, the 23-year-old handled two ponies and took both sections of the 22nd annual Virginia Pony Breeders Association's Yearling Futurity, June 12, held in conjunction with the Upperville Colt & Horse Show. Taylor showed Glen Haven Work Of Art to the colt/gelding futurity and grand championship titles, and won the yearling filly futurity with Royal Treasure. Amongst the formidable competition that Taylor topped at Upperville was her father Richard Taylor, a long-time pony breeder. However, it was a defeat he was proud to endure.
"It's very rewarding to see her be able to compete and win at that level and be willing to work as hard as you have to work to achieve that kind of success," he said. "We have a very good relationship here between father, mother and daughter. So we're lucky." Richard, Patsy and Drew run a pony breeding business on their Venture Farm, Montpelier, Va., and had several entries at Upperville.
Drew decided to take the reins on Suzanne Moody's Glenhaven Work Of Art and Jill Kulmann's Royal Treasure because she was most familiar with the two youngsters. "[Work Of Art] kind of likes me. I'm not very big—I'm basically a little person. So it made more sense for me to show him," she said.
Work Of Art, an adorable chestnut gelding (Downland Rembrandt—Even Money, Penrhyn Sporting Chance) overcame the inexperience he showed during his inaugural performance at the VPBA Benefit (Va.) in April to take the futurity title. "That was his first outing, and he wasn't perfect that day," said Drew. "[At Upperville] he showed pretty well when they came to look at him and then he jogged beautifully."
Drew also attributed Work Of Art's win to his darling look. "You walk up to him and you have to like him because he has these big, bug-brown eyes," she said.
That's The Business
Work Of Art was bred on the Taylors' farm but was bought as a foal by Moody, who stands his sire at her Glenhaven Farm in Unionville, Pa. Moody then left the youngster with the Taylor family to grow up and begin his show career. But Drew said the decision to sell the promising prospect was not a hard one to make.
"That's what we're in business to do. We raise a bunch of young ponies every year," she said. "We breed them and raise them and they're supposed to go on. We'll start them at 2 years old, and when they get to be 3 and 4 it's time for them to move on for a kid to ride. So we're used to that. That's the way it has always been."
Having to make the enviable of choice of which of the two qualified entries to handle in the grand champion class at Upperville, Drew chose Royal Treasure (Loafers Lodge Spring Ahead—Royal Reign, Cymraeg Rain Beau) because of the roan filly's winning record. "I had shown her at Devon [Pa.] and she'd been reserve champion filly," said Drew. But when Work Of Art was ultimately victorious in the grand championship class, it was a proud Richard Taylor that handed the reins to his daughter for the awards ceremony.
While Drew may be considered a young handler by many, she works from a lifetime of experience. She's been involved with her parents' pony breeding business as far back as she can remember, first showing a pony broodmare in-hand at 6 years old. "When you go to the horse show, people are amazed that I show one as well as I do. And I think to myself, 'Well, I [grew] up doing this,' " said Drew. "So I don't think it's quite a surprise that I would know how to show one!"
After mastering the Upperville walk-trot class, Drew, an only child, embarked on a successful junior career that, not surprisingly, involved a lot of pony riding. "I rode a pony til I couldn't ride, til they threw me out age wise," Drew joked. Notable rides for Drew include winning the 1997 AHSA/ Miller's Pony Championships large division and reserve grand championship aboard Foxlair Poker. She eventually moved on to riding horses but still made time to work with the green ponies. "I always did a large green pony basically each year," she said.
Even today Drew plays an integral role riding and preparing the family's young ponies for sale. "A lot of times I show the ponies at the local shows in a division that an adult can ride a pony," she said. Drew also has a young Quarter Horse hunter prospect on the farm, as well as an appendix Quarter Horse filly. But she still enjoys training and handling the ponies the most. "The ponies are easier than the horses," she said. "A lot of people will argue with me about that one!"
Drew also keeps close tabs on the ponies that the family sells. "You keep up with where they are and where they've been," she said. "A lot of times too, people know they've come from us, so they will come back to us, and ask us about when we had them and if we have any others." But the ponies aren't the only things on Drew's plate. She balances her work on the farm with a career as a real estate agent. She also managed to fit in a two-year business degree at Piedmont Virginia Community College without taking a break from the ponies. After rolling out of bed at the crack of dawn to attend horse shows, making it to early morning classes so she could have the afternoon to work with the ponies wasn't a stretch for Drew.
"I don't mind getting up in the morning," she joked. It's a hands-on approach to breeding and showing that the Taylors believe has helped propel them to so many pony accolades over the years. "I see them on a daily basis," said Drew of the ponies. "It's not like you lead them to the ring and you turn them over to a handler, and they've never seen that person before."
"On Christmas Eve, when you're having dinner with grandma, we might be in the barn," added Richard with a chuckle.