Northwestern Lehigh senior rides American saddlebred to success
How young is too young to participate in the sport of horseback riding? For Taylor Norman of New Tripoli her first time on a horse was at age 6 months.
Now a senior at Northwestern Lehigh High School, Taylor has had many years of riding with great success.
Her champion show horse is CH The Party Planner, commonly called Emma, an American saddlebred.
Taylor’s mother, Mary, treasurer of the Pennsylvania Saddlebred Association, organizes her daughter’s show career.
Her father, Tim, is a trainer and showman working in various barns around the Southeast followed by training at the Person barn in New Tripoli.
Mary’s Uncle Johnny was also a trainer.
The family lives on Stonewall Farm, along King’s Highway, New Tripoli.
Mary Norman asked this reporter if I saw the stone wall as I drove to the family’s house.
She then laughed, as the wall was never built, but the name of the farm remains.
Stonewall Supreme was also the name of Uncle Johnny’s champion Saddlebred stallion.
Taylor’s first pony was named Lightning Bug.
“He was an interesting pony who was good at getting out of his stall to eat grass,” Taylor said.
At Wentz Stables, Orefield, she used the little Morgan Royal Cavalier in lead line classes.
Taylor began riding lessons and boarding her horses on Golden View Farm, New Tripoli, and then moved to Wentz Stables.
Tired of the traveling, a barn was built and pasture fences erected so the horses could stay at home for three seasons of the year
They still go to board over winter.
Taylor rode at different barns and finally at age 12 got her own show horse, the Saddlebred Switzer.
“I had been in a barn with my friends who had horses and I thought, ‘Oh, I wish I had one and suddenly there was Switzer,’” Taylor said. “I like the connection with horses and I like saddle seat.
Saddle seat riding shows off the horse’s extravagant gaits, particularly the trot.
“I like whatever horse I have, but for me it is saddle seat or nothing,” she said. When the horses are in the home barn she cares for them.
Taylor loves Switzer even though he will never earn championship points.
Tim rides and shows Switzer, though Taylor still rides him in addition to Emma.
Tim rode Emma when she first joined the herd. He won at the prestigious Devon show but it wasn’t long before Taylor was showing both horses.
Emma earned champion points for the Pennsylvania Saddlebred Horse Association award in both 2015 and 2016.
Saddlebred horses, a true American breed, are shown in either three gaited or five-gaited style.
Taylor has always ridden three-gaited horses with the standard walk, trot and canter gaits. A five-gaited horse adds the slow gait and rack to its manner of moving.
“We are very proud of her winning. She took the Pennsylvania Saddlebred Horse Association high point award in the Junior Division for three-gaited pleasure with Emma,” her mom said. A rider is in the Junior Division until age 18.
“It is just a feeling. This is what I’m supposed to be doing. This is what I love,” Taylor said.
Mary said she is grateful for everyone who helped along the way. Taylor learned from so many people
Taylor will be going to college next year and wants to be a veterinarian.
With the help of Jeremy Schmoyer of the Maker’s Club at school, she made a sign for the farm.
It is an oval with “our symbol” of a Saddlebred inside a horseshoe and the words Stonewall Farm.
The sign was a Christmas present for her mother.
Mary said the sign was a wonderful present and the symbol is embroidered on horse blankets, shirts and hats.
Taylor’s brother, Cole, enjoys lacrosse and hopes the school soon fields a team.