Taylor Dyke, daughter of Jeffrey and Gail Dyke of Windham, has only been riding horses for approximately four years. Despite her late start, the 18-year-old and her teammates took the reserve World Championship title in team penning at the in the American Quarter Horse Association’s 2015 Build Ford Tough American Quarter Horse Youth Association World Championship Show earlier this year.
Dyke began riding in Charleston, Maine. Her grandfather was into team penning, an event where a riding team identifies, moves and pens specific cattle from a herd in a limited amount of time. He brought the sport to Maine, and when Dyke and her mother watched, she said they decided they’d like to try it.
After a couple of years of doing shows in Maine, Dyke said she began to travel to out of state shows with her mom. Finally, they decided to move to Texas, where there was a lot bigger environment for team penning. “There was a show every weekend, there was more competition,” Dyke said.
Dyke met a trainer from Gainesville at a show, and wound up buying a horse from them. A month later, she ran into them at another big show, and they began to give her some pointers. The trainers had two girls living with them, and Dyke asked her dad to talk to them about her moving in as well. She ended up rooming with Samantha Struhall, who was part of her winning team this year.
The first year Dyke rode in the AQHA show was while she was still penning in Maine. It did not go well, she said, and she did not compete in the AQHA show in 2014. Struhall rode, and won the 2014 Team Penning title. Struhall convinced Dyke to give it another try this year.
Dyke said she didn’t expect to do so well, particularly since many of the competitors have been riding for much longer than she has.
“All these kids have grown up doing it their whole lives. The competition is tough, the cows are tough. To be able to do it just for four years and accomplish that…I never thought I would. It was awesome,” said Dyke.
Dyke is homeschooled, and finishing up her senior year of high school. She is currently working on qualifying for next year’s world show, the last year she can ride as a youth.
“After that, it will be a while, probably, until I ride the adult AQHA. Their competitions are a lot tougher.”