By Claire Harlin
Shannon McTaggart, 13, discovered her passion for horse riding three years ago, and she has already achieved world status in the sport.
The Santa Fe Christian seventh-grader won both world and national titles in the Junior Classic Saddle Seat Equitation class at the Morgan Grand National and World Championship in Oklahoma City, which took place from Oct. 6-13. She competed against 12 other riders in her class, who qualified in youth shows from their hometowns all over the nation.
“It’s super exciting,” said Karla McTaggart, Shannon’s mother. “It’s a lot of money and effort. We were there nine days and had to haul the horse out there. To put all your time and effort into this and then actually win — we were just overwhelmed.”
Shannon has always said she wanted to ride a horse, Karla said, but she was a gymnast practicing three days a week and didn’t have time. When a friend invited her to a horse riding camp, Karla said “that was the end of the story” — or perhaps the beginning. She began taking classes several times a week with Anne Speck, a world-renowned trainer of decades, and her teenage life became very hectic. “Shannon had to choose between horse riding and gymnastics and she decided she wanted to ride horses,” Karla said. “She just loves it.”
Karla and her husband also bought Shannon her horse, named Stonecroft Make A Wish, two years ago for Christmas. The horse, which Shannon calls “Wish,” accompanied her in the spotlight during the event, and especially on the last day of the competition, when Shannon made her victory pass around the arena decorated in ribbons.
“It was such a neat moment,” said Karla, “It meant a lot to her, but she’s so humble. As her trainer says, she can go out there and get first place and be happy and she can go out there and get last place and still be happy.”
Shannon is the granddaughter of Jerry McTaggart of Rancho Santa Fe.