When 17-year-old Taylor Prince was just four years old, his stepmom Brenda Basham, a Shetland Pony and Miniature Horse breeder and trainer, said “Pick any horse you want on the farm and it’s yours.”
“I picked a little filly foal named Guinevere,” remembers Taylor. “I still have her here on our farm. I’ve done just about everything with Gwinny. We’ve competed in halter classes, driving, showmanship and obstacle jumping courses. Gwinny is a great kid’s horse.”
Today Taylor helps his dad, Jason Prince, and Brenda raise and train Miniature Horses and Shetland Ponies at the family’s Excaliber Stables in Illinois.
“I live on a farm in the middle of nowhere,” says Taylor. “We have one Paint Horse and around 30 or 40 Miniatures and Shetlands. We breed our own horses.”
When Taylor’s not training Minis and Shetlands, he helps around the farm.
“I feed and water the horses in the morning, and I clean stables,” says Taylor.
Taylor is an active member of the American Shetland Pony Club/American Miniature Horse Registry Youth Club and he likes spreading the word about Shetlands and Minis.
“Miniature Horses are calm and loveable, and you can do a lot with them,” explains Taylor. “Shetlands can be a bit more rowdy, so you have to be patient when working with them.”
Taylor’s favorite Shetland Pony to train and show is named Tom E. Lee of Excaliber. And yes, the 4-year-old bay gelding is named after Tommy Lee, the wild drummer of the rock band Motley Crue! His barn name is Motley.
“Motley is a little skittish. You can’t make any sudden moves around him, but other than that he’s a really good horse,” says Taylor.
Taylor has shown Motley since he was a foal, and the Shetland Pony has won numerous championships at shows including the Shetland Pony Congress and the Ohio State Fair Championships.
Taylor also trains and shows 13-year-old Gwinny’s younger full brother, 10-year-old Roland. Roland is a blue roan gelding.
“Roland is pretty calm and friendly,” says Taylor. “I took him to last year’s American Miniature Horse National Show and we competed in jumping and obstacle classes.”
And just what is an obstacle class?
“It’s kind of like a trail class,” explains Taylor. “You have to do things like lead your horse over a tarp, ground tie him in front of the judges and walk him over a bridge that makes noise. Sometimes you have to walk through and obstacle that has stuff hanging down that touches the horse.”
Taylor says that the key to training Miniature Horses and Shetlands for obstacle courses is building trust with them.
“It’s all about cues and repetition too” says Taylor.
Taylor’s favorite show class is jumping.
“A course is usually about six fences. Sometimes I show four or five horses a day in jumping classes and I can get pretty tired,” says Taylor.
Taylor teaches the horses and ponies how to jump by starting small.
“You keep the fences very low and they walk over it at first until they get it.”
Taylor really likes competing at shows because he gets to hang out with other kids who enjoy training and showing Miniature Horses and Shetland Ponies.
“I have friends all over the United States, thanks to my horses,” says Taylor. “Some of the bigger shows have parties for the youth competitors, and we sometimes do fun activities like going to water parks. We’re all pretty competitive inside the ring, but everyone is friendly outside the ring.”
Taylor does his part to promote the breeds.
“I’ve shown my horses in lots of parades, and I’ve taken them to schools so kids can learn about them,” says Taylor.
We asked Taylor how young riders can learn more about Shetland Ponies and Miniature Horses.
“They can visit the breed websites and find out if there are breeders close to them. Most breeders are happy to show off their horses, says Taylor. “The breed associations also hold clinics where you can go and learn more about Minis and Shetlands.”
To learn more about Miniature Horses and Shetland Ponies: