Taylor Ashe Cawley may only be 12 years old, but she’s already accomplished plenty of impressive feats in the show ring. She earned the grand pony and small pony hunter championships at last year’s Devon Horse Show (Pennsylvania) on Benjamin Buttons. She also made the cover of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine after winning the WCHR Pony Challenge at Capital Challenge (Maryland) aboard By4Now. It was her first time showing at both competitions.
The daughter of horse professionals Chris Cawley and Molly Ashe Cawley, Taylor caught the horse bug early, riding in front of the saddle with her father and watching her mother contest grand prix classes. These days Taylor is a sought-after catch-rider who trains with Charlie Moorcroft near her home in Wellington, Florida. While she doesn’t have any ponies she shows of her own, she’s been riding Farnley Corsair (Farnley Triton—Farnley Clipper) for the Karet family’s Glade Run Farm LLC regularly at home.
Hometown: Wellington, Florida
Trainer: Charlie Moorcroft
Who is your role model and why?
I do really look up to my mom a lot because she’s an amazing rider.
If you could ride any horse or pony in the world, who would you choose?
I really want to ride Private Practice because Tori Colvin makes him look like so much fun. Just the way that he flows around the ring—I just love that about him.
Do you have any good luck charms or pre-ride rituals?
I always call my mom, and she always gives me a pep talk. I always have to go away from everyone, whether it be in the bathroom or just outside by myself and remember the things that have brought me here and people who have helped me. I try to think of those things and try to get all the nerves out of my head. Sometimes my mom can’t be there to support me. I just try to get away from everyone for five minutes to think of the people who have helped me get there.
What’s your favorite barn chore?
Feeding the horses, making their grain and feeding them. I like when they’re whinnying at you, and you open the door, and they want nothing to do with you—they just want the food.
Mucking out the stalls.
Riding without stirrups: love it or hate it?
I don’t mind it actually. It helps you connect with the horse more and know what’s under you and know what you have to feel and what feels right and what doesn’t.
What’s been your most memorable horse show so far? Why?
Either Devon [Pennsylvania] or Capital Challenge [Maryland] because everybody was supporting me. Benjamin Buttons I rode at Devon, and he was amazing, had a great show there. By4Now I rode at Capital Challenge, and he was flawless there.
Do you have a special way to celebrate when you win?
Calling my mom and my dad and grandma, everyone that has helped me, and then celebrating with my friends.
What’s your most embarrassing horse-related moment?
In Michigan, I was riding my pony bareback, and I was going up a hill, and he went to put his head down, and I lost the reins, and I fell off backwards and rolled down the hill. He was just standing at the top of the hill, staring at me, saying, “What happened?” It was hilarious. I was laughing.
Do you eat breakfast before you show? What do you usually have?
I do eat breakfast. I try not to eat a ton, but it depends on when I show. In the morning I’ll eat a little something like an orange. Then I’ll show, and then I’ll eat a real meal after that.
What’s your favorite treat?
I have a sweet tooth, so I love sugary things like candy and sour things like lemons, and I love fruit.
What’s something unusual that most people wouldn’t know about you?
I do dance, I’m a dancer. At school, I dance for a dance team. I do jazz, tap, ballet.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome so far?
When I was younger I got bullied a lot in school. That caused my grades to go down a little bit. I had to take a break from riding. My mom and dad had to talk to people at the school to stop the bullying, and then I had to get my grades up. Then I started riding again. It took me a little bit to get back up and showing again. That was actually really hard.
If your trainer could put a sign between your pony’s ears with the thing they tell you the most, what would it say?
Go faster! Keep the rhythm; keep going! I’m so bad at maintaining a rhythm and getting up to speed in the beginning. Everybody tells me that all the time.
What’s your favorite book or movie?
I love watching movies about horses. I’m really a horsey girl. I love “Black Beauty” and “War Horse”—it’s really sad, but it’s a good movie. I loved reading “The Magic Treehouse” when I was younger—it was my favorite book series.
Do you do home school, online school or attend school in person?
I have been doing school I attend in person, but because of the virus I had to do online school for the remainder of the year. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.
What’s your favorite school subject?
I like writing because I get to express who I am through it. I like to express who I am and my personality.
I don’t really like reading as much.
Name a fun thing you do with your friends.
I like painting and drawing, and I really like swimming.
What’s the best thing about having parents who are trainers?
They know what everything is, so I can go home and talk to them about it. They do give me their opinion to help me get better at riding. When I’m having a tough day, I can go to them and tell them what’s wrong, and they’ll understand what I’m talking about.
What’s the hardest thing about having parents who are trainers?
A little bit of the same thing! Because they do know what everything is, so when you do mess up, and it is your fault, they know exactly what’s wrong. It’s a good thing because they know how to fix it. It sometimes does get a bit hard at some points.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I really like designing, either clothes or houses. But I want to grow up and have a family and have kids that ride, and I’d also like to ride doing the grand prix classes.
Tell me about your favorite pony you’ve ridden or the one who has taught you the most.
My favorite pony I’ve ever ridden would be By4Now. He’s beautiful and an amazing mover and an amazing jumper, and he’s taught me so much. When I got him he was really green. He was my first ever green pony. He’s taught me how to ride the younger ones.
Ju-Ju B—I’ve had him for eight years—taught me the most. I still have him. He was my first real show pony. I got him when I was about 4 years old. He did the mediums, but now he doesn’t want to do that job since he’s getting a little bit older. Now when I’m having a tough week or a tough day I can go ride him, and he reminds me of the happy things and good things about riding and all the memories that I have had with him.
Tell us about Farnley Corsair.
“Farnley” is 11. When we got him he was doing the mediums. He was a bit concerned. If there was a distance that was a little bit long he would be a little bit like, “Are you sure?” He was a bit reliant on the rider. We’ve really been working on him getting up to the jumps. If we do see a longer distance or shorter distance, we’ve been working on how to measure that and continue to go up to it. If the rider is a bit younger and not as experienced we’d like for him to take the child around without a problem and make it smooth and flowing.
What’s your favorite thing about Farnley?
He has an amazing rhythm, always one-two, one-two. Because of his rhythm, the jumps come up really nicely.
What’s his favorite treat?
Carrots and apples—he will eat anything!
If Farnley was a person, who would he be like?
He would be kind of like an old soul type of person. Relaxed, but then he’d have spurts where he’d be super energetic and fun and playful, but a nice person.
What’s your favorite memory with Farnley?
It was [Week 7 at the Winter Equestrian Festival (Florida)], and I was riding three ponies at the time in that class, the medium pony division. He was champion section A, and By4Now [whom I was also riding] was champion section B. Alexa Karet, who owns the ponies, she was reserve section A on her pony, and it was really fun.