This week’s Sunday Spotlight shines on Taylor Christoff of Milford, Ohio. Taylor has had an affinity for horses for as long as she can remember, and is following her passion to Miami University this fall to ride on the Miami University Equestrian Team. Taylor has been lucky to have leased three fantastic horses over her riding career and is finishing out a terrific season aboard her beloved Comet. Taylor took the time this week to chat with us about her three horses, her close-knit barn family and her goals over the coming years.
WEC: How did you get into riding?
Taylor: I have no clue. I always remember having a huge love for horses and going on trail rides. I remember riding for a week on vacation at Lost Creek Dude Ranch in Wyoming. Although I’m not sure how I got into riding, I always have the memory of loving horses.
WEC: Tell us about your early riding career.
Taylor: I started out doing trail rides at a barn in Bethel, Ohio on a Tennessee Walking Horse named Scrappy in third grade. She was the best and loved her job. Once I started playing volleyball, I dropped riding lessons. However, as I started high school at Saint Ursula Academy I realized the competition for volleyball was just too tough, so I pleaded with my parents to get me back into riding.
After that I took lessons at a dressage barn in Indian Hill, Ohio, and a year later moved to Childress Rodgers Stables. I took my first lesson with Laura, riding Blaze (Broadway Blaze) who took me around like an old pro. After that I was hooked. After a few months of being there, I asked if we could go to a local show. My first show was on Dallas, an amazing school horse that took me around the poles and cross rails at Erica Staib’s Windfall Farm. From then on, I’ve moved up the divisions with many different horses that I am so thankful to have ridden.
I still ride at Childress Rodgers Stables in Milford with the best trainer ever, Laura Horval. Laura has been the best trainer ever and has helped me achieve my dreams. Jane and Nicole Schimweg have been the best barn owners ever, making everyone feel like family, loving the horses like their own, and supporting every horse and rider team. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to do the shows I do each summer.
WEC: Tell us about some horses that you’ve ridden. What are their personalities like?
Taylor: A few months into riding at Chiles (we call the barn “Chiles” for short after our beloved barn owner Childress Rodgers who passed in 2016), I got the opportunity to lease Blaze. He was the first horse I had leased at Chiles and he took me around like a pro. We did the Future Hunters in 2018 and won either Champion or Reserve at every show. We ended up OHJA Future Hunter Champion for the 2018 show year. Blaze also took me to my first show at WEC where I did the 2’ Limit for the first time. We ended up winning Reserve Champion.
Blaze is a horse whose personality isn’t for everyone. I remember my first lesson on him, I couldn’t even get him out of his stall because of how grumpy he was. He loved having just one person leasing him. His personality became a lot sweeter and funnier. He was always obsessed with treats, especially Snaks. He also loved my Mom, he was the perfect horse for her to hang out with on the ground. Whenever she would say, “Oh Mr. B,” as she walked down the aisle, he would nicker. He had the best life ever and now is loving retirement at Jane and Nicole Schimweg’s family farm.
I got the opportunity in 2019 from Jane and Nicole to lease a green Quarter Horse named Vegas. Vegas came from the Findlay University Horse Auction and only had a few months of very light jumping training. He was a lot different than a packer pony like Blaze, but it made me become a real rider. Vegas and I did the Beginner Horse 2’0 that summer and had moments that were tough, but as we got to know each other we thrived. It was amazing to see the progress he went through. Later that winter, I took him to WEC for his first time. We knew we wouldn’t do as well as everyone else because he didn’t have a lead change and he was still a bit green, but it was all just for his experience. Although we didn’t get any ribbons in our over fences, we won our flat out of 15 people. It was a great last show with Vegas and I loved watching him be the amazing horse he is today.
Vegas was like a dog, he was super sweet and cuddly and wanted to be in your lap. He was very careful, patient and forgiving. The funniest thing I remember about him is that he always licked my hands and drank out of a cup at shows.
I just started leasing Tricia Reynold’s Gratitude, aka Comet. I rode Comet a little bit before leasing him, and I remember the first time that I jumped him I didn’t want to ride him again. But after flatting him a bit and getting to know him last summer, he gave me a lot of confidence. That winter we started to jump bigger jumps, do more difficult things, and grow together as a team. Once COVID hit, my barn owners made the right choice to close the barn for a couple of months. Once we were able to come back and lesson Comet was exactly as we left him. He is a horse that, if he isn’t ridden for a few days, he doesn’t get crazy or excited.
A few months later, Comet and I went to our first show together at Windfall Farms. We ended up Champion in the Limit Eq and Reserve in the Limit Hunters, as well as 4th in the Childress Rodgers Memorial Classic. After this show we decided to move up to the Intermediate Childrens. It was a great first 2’6″ show and Comet took me around like a pro. We went to Country Heir and decided to take a step back, which was a great decision, and do the Very Low 2’0. We ended up sweeping the division and qualified for OHJA Medal Finals after a win in that class. After my move in date for Miami University got pushed back due to COVID, Comet and I were able to compete in the OHJA Medal Finals. We prepared for it by weeks of no stirrups, weird eq courses, and yoga. My lease is up soon, so Comet and I are having a lot of fun together while it lasts. I can’t wait to come back to him at Thanksgiving. He is a true unicorn and I cannot thank Tricia, Laura, my parents, and Jane and Nicole for helping me get to where I am today.
Comets has a big personality. He is the most goofy, loveable, cuddly horse I have ever met. Sometimes he is a bit spooky, but nothing I can’t handle. He demands treats constantly and also wants scratches on his face after every lesson. He is the most dramatic horse ever and even grunts when asked for a lead change. He is lazy, but doesn’t take a lot to go. He will always jump everything and take care of you if you make a mistake. He is the perfect horse for me, and if I could take him to Miami with me, I would in a heartbeat.
WEC: Tell us about riding on the Miami University Equestrian Team.
Taylor: This is the first year I am riding on MUET. I have always watched them at shows and thought they were so perfect. I haven’t had a lesson with them yet, but one of their horses named Charlie is already my favorite.
Over the past few years I have been competing through IEA with our barn’s other trainer Erin Washburn. IEA always has its ups and downs, but nothing beats being on the Childress Rodgers Stables Equestrian Team. Last season I was qualified for Zone’s for the first time, but due to COVID I was not able to go. I cannot thank Erin enough for being the most amazing IEA coach, and always setting me up for success.
WEC: Do you have any particularly memorable riding/show experiences?
Taylor: I have so many memorable riding and show experiences but there are two that stick out to me the most. In my first year of showing, Blaze and I ended up OHJA Future Hunter Champions. It was so fun being announced at the OHJA Banquet and having fun with my friends and barn family.
My most proud/favorite riding and show memory was just this past weekend. Comet and I competed in our first OHJA Medal Finals together in the 2’6-2’0 section. With 43 entries for that class, we went in with the goal to have as much fun as possible. We got called back for the top twelve flat, which was tough. After the flat, my trainer came up to me and told me that I got 4th out of 43 riders! I wanted to cry of happiness. We were rewarded with a big, beautiful white ribbon and an awesome victory gallop and I gave a fist pump in the air. I was so happy with how we did. Like I said, Comet is a unicorn, he is so rare that I don’t think I can ever let him go. I cannot thank him enough for being the most amazing horse in the world.
WEC: Do you have any hobbies outside of riding?
Taylor: I really love hanging out with my two Labrador retrievers, as well as baking and cooking. I also love doing yoga and traveling. I have also been skiing for about 15 years in Beaver Creek, Colorado. Riding is what my life is surrounded by, but I love the moments that I get to take a break and have fun with my other hobbies.
WEC: What are you studying in school?
Taylor: Right now I am studying Social Work. I might add a major, minor, or even change my major, but I am going to see how the year goes. I love my professors and Miami has been my home since I was younger, since my Mom grew up in Oxford, Ohio. I can’t wait to be up there with my older sister.
WEC: What are your riding goals?
Taylor: I want to further my equitation career with Comet. I hope that I will end up in the 3’0 divisions with him. I’ve always wanted to do a derby and have my shadbelly moment. I would love to get Reserve or Champion at OHJA Medal Finals. I’ve always wanted to go to Kentucky and show at the Horse Park. Eventually I want to get my own horse from either New Vocations or Findlay and train it from green to packer hunter/eq horse! Whatever life brings me, I am game!
WEC: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Taylor: I just want to thank my trainer for everything she has done for me. Laura is truly the best trainer ever. She just “gets” me. Every time she walks me into the ring she always says “Go Be Beautiful!” I also want to thank Tricia Reynolds for letting me lease such an awesome horse and for being an amazing stand in show Mom for when my Mom can’t be there. I want to thank Jane and Nicole for being amazing barn owners and giving me awesome opportunities. There is never a time I haven’t had fun with them. I want to thank my parents for supporting me every day with my achievements and love for the sport. I can’t do this without them. Lastly, if anyone wants to see my progress or follow my riding journey, feel free to follow @taylorjeaneq on instagram – I love posting my progression with riding and daily goofy posts with Comet.
Congratulations on your accomplishments this year, Taylor. We hope to see you back at WEC again soon!