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Cowboy Swagger is 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover Champion With Fallon Taylor


Jenna Jack and Katano. Photo by CanterClix


Fallon Taylor and Cowboy Swagger at barrel racing competition

Erin Miller and O Ganador. Photo by CanterClix

Alison O'Dwyer and Fifth Ace. Photo by CanterClix

Lauren Burke and Frank's Gift. Photo by CanterClix

Buck Schott and Great Reward. Photo by CanterClix

Fallon Taylor and Cowboy Swagger in the Finale in front of a packed house. Photo by CanterClix

Cowboy Swagger, 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover Champion with Fallon Taylor. Photo by CanterClix

Fallon Taylor and Cowboy Swagger. Photo by CanterClix

Rosie Napravnik and Sanimo. Photo by CanterClix

Katherine Deichmann and Tenpin Sugar. Photo by CanterClix
By Kristen Kovatch Bentley; Photos by CanterClix

Champion barrel racer Fallon Taylor takes on a new challenge every year: in 2018, she took up show jumping. This year, she took on the Thoroughbred Makeover. Already a champion — she was the 2014 Women’s Professional Rodeo Association World Champion and 2018 AQHA World Champion — Taylor can add one more line to her deep resume: trainer of the 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover Champion, Cowboy Swagger.

The Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America, was held at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY October 2-5, 2019. Just over 400 horses competed in ten disciplines during the week, with the five top-placed in each discipline coming back to the Finale on Saturday October 5th. The first day’s competition included Freestyle, plus half of the fields in Dressage, Eventing, Show Hunter and Show Jumper. Barrel Racing and Field Hunter completed two of their three phases, with the final phases taking place Thursday morning. On Thursday were also Competitive Trail, Polo, and Ranch Work.

Much like winning the average in a rodeo, Taylor and Cowboy Swagger’s consistent, steady performances earned them victory in the Barrel Racing discipline at the 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover. Taylor didn’t lead after the horsemanship component, nor did she set the fastest times in the two daily barrel runs, but through those consistent performances she maintained the best overall scores in the division. After clinching the championship in Barrel Racing, Taylor’s fan base rallied behind her to vote her to the overall title.

In the TCA Covered Arena for the voting and award presentation, Cowboy Swagger stood quietly as the other horses circled around him, with just a set of reins around his neck and a massive blanket of roses that Taylor had made especially for her Thoroughbred barrel horse. A casual bystander might not guess that this horse just a few hours ago had been agilely turning barrels and sprinting for home flat-out in the same arena.

“I think the coolest thing about these Thoroughbreds is their demeanor,” Taylor commented. “This is a special, unique horse. I’m just sitting here with no bridle on, people all around, all these cameras pointed at him, and he’s completely unaffected. The Thoroughbreds want to please. And these guys are made to run — they’re made for this job. It’s our job to be kind, be patient, and help these horses learn the pattern and learn their new job. We need to go out and get these horses and scoop them up!”

Taylor acquired Cowboy Swagger based on the advice of a friend who knew the horse on the track and loved his personality. He was bred in Oregon by Dr. and Mrs. Jack B. Root Jr., and as of his last start on January 8, 2019 at Portland Meadows he was trained by Sam Dronen. By Grindstone out of the Baquero mare One Fast Cowgirl, Cowboy Swagger made 16 career starts with three wins and total earnings of $20,299.

“The horsemanship pattern was a challenge for me,” Taylor admitted earlier in the week. “But I like knowing that the horses are leaving the Makeover with a good foundation, especially if they’re selling at the Marketplace, to know that the next rider is going to have a really cool horse to play with later.”

Debuting for the first time at the 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover was the emerging discipline of western dressage. At the Makeover, western dressage was offered as an option within the discipline, and English and western riders competed side-by-side. After preliminary competition, Lauren Burkeand Frank’s Giftwere the highest-placed western combination, standing in fourth going into Saturday’s Finale.

2019 Thoroughbred Makeover Discipline Champions:
Competitive Trail: Belfast Cowboy, trained by Toni Harmon
Dressage: Fifth Ace, trained by Alison O’Dwyer
Eventing: Sanimo, trained by Rosie Napravnik
Field Hunter: Diplomat, trained by Sara Katz
Freestyle: Grande Warrior, trained by Amy Bowers
Polo: Great Reward, trained by Buck Schott
Ranch Work: Silence Is Awesome, trained by Amber Jacobson
Show Hunter: Furaha, trained by Susan Deal
Show Jumper: Tenpin Sugar, trained by Katherine Deichmann

For full results from the Thoroughbred Makeover, please visit:

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