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Festive stars: ‘I decided the business world was better off without me’: The talented young producer with a HOYS title to his name…

Over the festive season, we are shining a light on up-and-coming talent across the equestrian disciplines. These are riders you really need to keep an eye out for during the 2020 season...

Next in this series is 18-year-old showing producer and rider Harrison Taylor. Harrison is known for his partnership with the Connemara Skellorn Prairie Starlight, who was champion at both the Royal International (RIHS) and Horse of the Year Show (HOYS). He had two ponies in the young rider championship at HOYS, including the Welsh section B pony Skellorn Miss Ellie who he produced to stand second.

1. He started in show jumping

Harrison used to compete in BSJA classes and had two 13.2hh rides. He got into the show scene by chance.

“Penny Hollings asked me to ride one of her show ponies, Ninfield Fable, for the late Lady Horsfall,” explains Harrison. “I then started to compete one of the show jumpers, Skipper III, in worker classes. We mananged to qualify for both HOYS and the Royal International (RIHS) and he went onto stand third at the final with his next owner before retiring.”

2. He planned a ‘normal’ career

While he had broken and schooled ponies from a young age, Harrison attempted to pursue a non-horsey career before switching back to the saddle.

“I went to college to do business studies, but this lasted all of two months,” he adds. “I decided the business world was better off without me. My parents really wanted me to keep my options open and have a fall back plan. I tried but came back into the horse world. I have broken and produced a few ponies now although my most successful breaker is without a doubt the lovely Skellorn Miss Ellie, who went onto achieve a fourth at in the open and a second in the juniors at HOYS in 2018.”

Harrison is in the process of gaining BHS qualifications in riding and coaching. “While experience does count for a lot in horse world, I do think qualifications help,” he says.

3. ‘The naughtiest pony we have ever owned’

Harrison credits three ponies to his success, the first being the Welsh section B pony Highbent Monarch.

“Not many will known him but he was the naughtiest pony we have ever owned,” says Harrison. “He would buck me off virtually every day until I learnt to ride him. He probably made me be the brave rider that I am today.

“Skellorn Prairie Starlight is the pony who put me on the map from an achievements perspective, with a win at RIHS and HOYS all in 2018. And Skellorn Miss Ellie has also been amazing; I took her from the field and produced her into the amazing child’s pony that she is today.”

4. A mixed bag

While natives are his passion, Harrison has recently branched out into other types and breeds. He currently has eight animals on his yard, including six which are owned by clients.

“I always thought I would specialize in M&M’s and have done so up until recently, but I now have a small hack, a coloured and a worker as well; so I have a mixed bag really.”

5. He’s an easy going guy

When asked about his showing pet hates, Harrison says that he’s not really interested in what other people do: “I like to just concentrate on my own ponies health, happiness and success!”

6. Family is key

Harrison is based on the family yard in Lancashire and is helped out by his mum and his nana.

“I tend to be on my own on the yard most days. Mum will help me some evenings after work and she particularly helps with the breakers that may still need someone on the ground. My mum is always out on the yard at weekends; it’s good to have eyes on the ground. My Mum also takes care of the admin such as memberships, show entries, vet visits and blacksmiths/dentist and physio appts.

“My Nana is in charge of keeping me organized. She does things such as sorting out rug and numnah washing, packing and cleaning the lorry after a show, mopping the tack and feed rooms and is constantly going around with her little brush brushing every wall, ceiling and corner of any spider webs or dirt keeping everywhere clean and tidy so me and the horses have a clean, organised yard to work from.

“Stuart Mason also comes to my yard to coach me for a few hours each week. I also go with him to other yards where I can have a sit on different dressage horses which improves my riding. Although my horses don’t have to do the same fancy moves that the dressage horses do, it really shows me how to get the basics perfect. I do things like lateral work with all my horses on my yard. Stu really helps me to be constantly learning more.”

7. A bright 2020

“I am very excited about Kerry Wainwright’s novice Connemara stallion Skellorn Dejavu,” continues Harrison. “I backed him this summer and I have already taken him to a few shows; he was champion Connemara at the Royal Cheshire County Show this year and stood overall M&M inhand champion. He is a lovely pony to work with and has a great attitude. I am also very excited about my own small hack Barncroft King of Swing who I will campaign as a novice. He is a sensitive horse and I think he will take more time. I’m also really looking forward to another year with our own working hunter pony Lynuck the Moneymaker. I’m also excited to see ponies I’ve started off out competing with their owners on board.”

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8. ‘Everybody has to start somewhere’

“I would say the main challenge of being a young producer is gaining trust and respect from both clients and other professionals in the industry,” says Harrison. “Everybody has to start somewhere and all successful producers were once my age. I’m always wanting to learn more and do better; this year I worked part time for Team Jinks and I learnt a lot about riding and the importance of good turnout at shows. I also work two mornings a week as a rider at a dressage/showing yard.

“I love being a producer and really wouldn’t want any other  job. I love working with my ponies everyday and going to all of the shows but I equally love doing the baby ponies and love to see them come on with time.”

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