Katie Myron is on top of the world again.
In October, the 14-year-old Rancho Santa Fe resident clinched several titles at the Grand National & World Championship Morgan Horse Show in Oklahoma City. Katie, aboard Tamarisk On Target, was named Grand National and World Champion for ages 13 and under in Saddle Seat Classic Equitation, and Champion in the United Professional Horseman’s Association Morgan Challenge Cup Junior National Championship.
The teen’s impressive resume already includes several world titles – she was awarded her first one in 2012 – and a number of other accolades.
“I like to do my best every time I ride, but I also enjoy my horses and all of the horses I have had – they make me feel happy,” Katie said. “I love working with horses; it is not a ‘hobby,’ in my opinion, but my way of life, and it is a good day whenever I am riding.”
Her love for equines began at age 2, and she recalled pleading with her mom, Kathlene Myron, to buy her a horse.
“I was very surprised when she bought me a large stuffed animal horse! I think I cried,” Katie said.
The request caught Kathlene – a dog lover – by surprise.
“I didn’t know where it was coming from,” she said. “But I’ve always loved animals; I’m an animal advocate.”
Kathlene said Katie’s first horseback riding adventure was a five-hour trail ride in Hawaii at age 3. On her 4th birthday, Katie received her first riding lesson, at a hunter/jumper stable in San Marcos.
“My mom knew right away that this was not going to be a phase or a hobby – rather it was who I was, and she said I am gifted with horses,” Katie said.
Months later, the youngster was competing in hunter/jumper classes at local horse shows, showing ponies “and anything they offered me to ride.”
After about a year, the San Marcos barn went bankrupt and the trainer left, so Katie joined the Rancho Santa Fe Riding Club. While she was there, she learned a variety of disciplines – including hunt seat equitation, saddle seat and horsemanship – and built upon her other skills.
After a few years, Katie became interested in gymkhana lessons.
“My mom found a barn in Escondido, and suddenly I was helmut-free, racing around barrels and poles and roping anything that moved,” she said. “I was excited to go every day after school to ride a different horse, and soon I was competing in small shows.”
Katie and her family leased a number of horses over the years, but when she was 8, her wish to own one was finally granted – her dad, Bob Myron, bought her a Quarter horse named Ted.
“It was the happiest day of my life,” Katie said. “I rode him every day, and my mom helped take care of him while I was at school. I learned so much in that first year with my horse. He basically let me know that he was not happy racing around barrels, so I worked him with cows roping, and he enjoyed that very much!”
Ironically, it was Ted who led Katie to another horse, and to the saddle seat discipline.
“One day while I was in the arena with him, he decided he was not going to budge - not a bit,” she said. “Meanwhile, another girl entered the arena on her Saddlebred horse (Blossom) and noticed my Quarter horse behaving like a mule, and asked if I would be interested in switching horses. I said, ‘Sure,’ with some reluctance! Within minutes, the ASB (American Saddlebred) owner had instructed me to ‘rack’ her horse, and at that moment I knew I was addicted! My mom started taking riding lessons on my Quarter horse and I started leasing the ASB – it was great timing for me because the owner had started college and would not have time for her.”
Katie began taking lessons and competing in saddle seat at shows. After a year, she moved up to regional and national competitions and said goodbye to Blossom. A new trainer evaluated her equitation abilities and had her ride several horses over the next six months. Soon, Katie discovered Morgans – and it was a mare named Festival Sundance that vaulted her to the top level. In 2012, Katie and Sundance won the World Championship in the 11 & under Saddle Seat Classic Equitation Division at the Grand National & World Championship Morgan Horse Show.
However, the pair eventually parted ways, as Katie’s trainer suggested a more challenging mount – one that she could grow into.
“I missed the magic Sundance and I had, but I realized that it was time for me to move forward,” Katie said.
The new mount was Katie’s biggest challenge yet – a Morgan named Slam Dunk, also known as “Duncan.”
“Everyone thought I was ready for an upgrade but me!” Katie said. “This particular horse was strong and big, while I was barely 60 pounds! He was not friendly in his stall and would sometimes humiliate me at horse shows. I was intimidated by his presence, and I know he knew it, too!”
However, after a successful show in Oklahoma in 2013, Katie became more confident in her abilities. She began riding hunt seat with another “difficult” horse, SpringMill Tea Party, nicknamed “Pippa.”
“One of my first lessons brought back memories of my early rodeo days; she (Pippa) bucked and spun, launching me like a torpedo!” Katie said.
But it was worth it, because in 2014, the duo won the National Championship title in the Walk-Trot Hunter Seat Equitation Division at the Grand National & World Championship. Katie also continued winning on Duncan, clinching National and Reserve World Champion titles that year.
After the championships, Katie decided to focus more on saddle seat riding and, for her 13th birthday, she was surprised with another saddle seat horse, Tamarisk On Target. The horse had been out of formal training for a while and had never done patterns, but with hard work, Katie and Tamarisk won the World Championship title in the Saddle Seat Classic Equitation Division for ages 13 and under in Oklahoma, among other honors in 2015.
This year brought even more success, as the pair were once again crowned champions in Oklahoma.
Although she is often competing, Katie finds time to balance her passion with schoolwork and piano lessons. Three days a week, the ninth-grader is in Escondido by 5 a.m. to ride, and then heads to school at Horizon Prep in Rancho Santa Fe. She also has independent PE twice a week, and heads to the barn immediately after school on those days. While in Oklahoma for the Grand National & World Championship – for an average stay of 10 days – a learning center ensures that Katie stays current on her assignments and communicates with her teachers on a daily basis.
She also keeps an eye on her health. The teen battles celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder, and has the occasional migraine. In order to keep them under control, Katie maintains a healthy diet, and uses deep breathing and relaxation techniques she learned from a biofeedback specialist.
Meanwhile, Katie is looking forward to participating with Tamarisk in the Jingle Bell Horse Show in Del Mar in December. They are fine-tuning their skills, and the teen is ensuring the well-being of her horse.
Katie expects that 2017 will bring more challenges.
“I am excited and look forward to changes in the coming year,” she said. “I am finished in the 13 and under division, and have only just begun!”
For long-term goals, Katie aspires to be an equine dermatologist – and have lots of horses.