New Jersey- Hollywood could not have written a better
script than the real-life tale of the champion at the
first annual Sussex Christian School Pro Rodeo, held
in Augusta, N.J., May 18, 2012.
The event is designed to raise funds
for the Sussex Christian School, an elementary and junior
high school with a strong, faith based teaching philosophy
located in Northern New Jersey. Along with pro rodeo
action, the SCSPR held events for the kids like pony-rides
and a kids' rodeo. Painted Pony Championship Rodeo produced
the event and all proceeds went to the school.
It was fitting that the lady who
would take the title in the WPRA barrel racing is taking
her first steps, not only in pro rodeo but toward a
career working with special needs kids. Taylor Young
grew up in Carlisle, Pa., and developed a love for the
sport at an early age, thanks in no small part to the
encouragement of her father Don.
"He got in with everything
and I just fell in love with it," says the cowgirl
who just turned 19 years old. "He is my number
one fan and I miss him so much when I am away at school."
Young just finished her first year
at Murray State University in Murray, Ky., where she
is studying to become a special needs speech therapist.
She was inspired to pursue the career by her brother
Brandon who is autistic.
In rodeo, Young filled her permit
in one run at Marshfield, Mass., last June, riding a
borrowed horse. A surprise gift last August pushed the
cowgirl to decide to rodeo for a rookie title in 2012.
"I lived with Kelly Yates last
summer and rode Kissmyskooter while I was there,"
says Young of the 12 year old gelding owned by Rivon
Nilson that carried Yates to a sixth place finish at
Cheyenne Frontier Days in 2011 and second at the Mountain
States Circuit Finals Rodeo in 2010. "I just fell
in love with him."
Little did Young know that soon
her father, Nilson and Yates would conspire to put the
gelding into her barn permanently. "They showed
up just before I went to school and my dad had bought
him for me."
Unfortunately, the horse had injured
himself in the trailer on the way to the Young's home
in Pennsylvania, so she would have to wait to begin
their adventure together. Far from bemoaning the setback,
Young appreciates the opportunity.
"I am so blessed with the opportunities
I have had to rodeo," she says, adding that her
father and uncle grew up with nothing and eventually
built a business together. Later, her parents started
Universal Media, a marketing company that is now Young's
sponsor as she travels the rodeo road. "I think
about my dad, doing so much when he had nothing to begin
with and I just think how blessed I am."
Clearly, Young leaves the "diva
attitude" to her horse.
"He is a diva and he knows
it," she laughs, adding that she spoils him and
he expects the attention. "When I unload Skooter
off the trailer, people laugh and say, 'oh the diva's
With Skooter recovered from his
injuries, Young has finally set off on the road, traveling
to Augusta just a few days after returning home from
"It was bittersweet for me,"
says Young. "My grandmother passed away the day
I was there. She had been sick a long time so it was
a relief to know her suffering had ended but it was
sad. But I almost felt like her hand was there and everything
just fell into place."
In just her 12th run aboard Skooter,
Young took the victory with a smooth 14.56 second run.
She earned $765 and moved into the top 10 of the First
Frontier Circuit standings and to the lead for the circuit's
"I am so excited," she
says. "My dad screamed the whole time on the video!
He was definitely a proud papa that day."
Young will rodeo during her summer
break in her home circuit but plans to head back to
school early for an internship opportunity at a school
in Murray. She will take her horses with her and try
to rodeo "down South" a bit while she works
and goes to school.
"I couldn't be in a better
place," she says. "I am a very blessed child."
For more information on the
Sussex Christian School Pro Rodeo visit www.paintedponyrodeo.com
and for more information on the school, visit them on-line