Do-It-Yourself Novice Amateur Wins One of the Largest Classes at Congress
Novice Amateur exhibitor Taylor Wheaton had a Congress for the record books. A do-it-yourself Amateur from Medina, Ohio, won one of the largest classes at Congress. At their first Congress together, Will Be In Touch and Taylor won the Level 1 Amateur Showmanship with 117 shown. Her horse, affectionately known as Stormageddon, is just three-years-old, and she trained him herself.
Wheaton said that coming into Congress, she didn’t have any expectations. “My goal was to have a clean run and hopefully make the finals. That’s it. I felt good about my patterns. However, I’m very hard on myself and I always find room for improvement. I truly wasn’t sure if I had a chance to win. I was super happy with just being a finalist. I am still on Cloud 9…it still hasn’t totally sunk in yet. I’ve been having people I don’t even know congratulate me. I kind of feel like a celebrity.”
So how did she get to this moment?
Wheaton tells us the story of how she came to buy her bay gelding, who is by A Touch Of Sudden. Taylor purchased Stormageddon from Tim and Dana Crager of Cross Creek Farm in Flemingsburg, Kentucky.
“I was in the market for a new horse and I got on Facebook one morning before work,” says Taylor, who is a Safety Supervisor at Panther, a service of ArcBest. “I saw his newborn pictures, and I got a weird feeling that I didn’t quite understand. I went down to Kentucky and saw him. I knew the weird feeling was ‘the feeling’ that everyone talks about, and that was it.”
Taylor continues, “I bought him when he was just 45 days old. This is his first year showing. At the beginning of this year, we didn’t expect to be at the Congress as he suffered a tendon injury and was off for six months.”
Wheaton says that Stormageddon has loved the showmanship from day one. “I started him slowly as a weanling and yearling with just respecting my body by walking and trotting him around my backyard. He’s never lived at a trainer.”
She did have some help; Nicole Beal of Beal Quarter Horses has given them lessons over the past three months to sharpen things up. “I can’t thank her enough for her guidance. Without her, we wouldn’t have had the performance we had yesterday.”
The team showed mainly at open shows near her house over the summer and then attended two Ohio Quarter Horse Shows in August before showing at the Congress.
So why the barn name Stormageddon? “When he was born, the breeders gave him the name of Storm. However, Storm seemed too plain for his exuberant personality. I believe that changing a horse’s name is bad luck, so I altered it to fit him. He is a giant puppy dog. Always in my pocket, and he wants attention 24/7 and more than anything, wants to please. He also puts everything in his mouth, which is shocking because he’s such a good showmanship horse.”
“Currently, he only shows in the showmanship since he suffered the injury earlier this year,” Taylor explains. “We’ve been taking things slow, but I plan to put the equitation on him over the winter.”
If you have any doubt that will happen, you may be underestimating the dedication behind this team’s awe-inspiring story. Look no further than some of Taylor’s social media posts heading into the Congress. Although no one could have predicted this unbelievable win at the largest single breed horse show in the world, it’s great to see Taylor’s self-motivation coming to fruition.
Taylor would like to thank her mother for trusting her when she asked her to co-own Stormageddon and for continually being her rock.
“I’d like to thank all of my family and friends for their constant support; Nicole Beal for taking us under her wing and believing in us from the get-go, and finally, to Stormageddon for being my best friend and making my dream of winning a Congress Championship come true.”
CLICK HERE to view this team’s ad in the October issue of GoMag.