8 Emerging Stars Who Inspired Us in 2014

Taylor McFall and Kilbarry Prince at Galway Downs. Photo by Jenni Autry. Taylor McFall and Kilbarry Prince at Galway Downs. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Emerging stars are making names for themselves in the sport every day. While some up-and-comers are celebrated for their results, others show all the qualities of stardom through their actions, behavior and personality. So we’ve put together a list of emerging stars that is a little different than most.

We’re celebrating hardworking, passionate people and horses that aren’t necessarily common names in media or found at the tops of leaderboards (though some fit both descriptions). These are people we are inspired by, and we’d love for you to add to our list.

Taylor McFall

Some kids (and adults!) simply accept what life has to throw at them. Not Taylor. This little girl makes her own road. Last summer when she found out her leased pony Kilbarry Prince was for sale, she made up her mind she wasn’t going to lose him and started working to earn money to buy him. She cleaned tack, washed trucks and made her now famous Pony Puffs horse treats to sell. Ultimately, she earned enough to make an offer on Prince.

So why is Taylor on our list of emerging stars? She might be a kid competing Novice on a pony, but she has all the right qualities of a future star: perseverance, dedication, willingness to work hard. Not too mention, she has awesome parents that are teaching her valuable lessons along the way.

David Ziegler

David Ziegler made history when he won individual medals in two disciplines at last year’s NAJYRC. He won silver in dressage on his former event horse Peninsula Top man and two-star gold on Missy Ransehousen’s Critical Decision. It’s one thing to compete multiple horses in the same eventing competition, but another to switch from eventing dressage to pure dressage to cross-country riding all on the same weekend.

Ziegler is still riding with the Ransehousen’s at Blue Hill Farm in Pennsylvania. “Topper” looks to have the stuff for Grand Prix dressage and we’re hoping they’ll be in contention for the Pan American Games. Critical Decision was retired after NAJYRC, and Ziegler is patiently bringing along a couple of young horses. What we want know is whether a show jumping medal is in his future!

Madison Tempkin

Madison starred in the premiere of EN’s Ones to Watch Series on PROtv. At 14, she’s twice been named to USEF’s Eventing 18 list. She takes lessons from her mom Beth and hopes to represent Area VI at NAJYRC with her 16-year-old OTTB Kingsley. She’s on our list because she wants to “live the eventing life.” And also because we just feel like we have a good eye for this kind of thing.

Michelle Warro and Not Without Me

Some horses are just waiting to find their right person, and Not Without Me (Banks) is a Thoroughbred that found his perfect match with Michelle Warro. He’s a horse with plenty of quirks, but Michelle saw his potential and worked through the less-than-ideal moments to form a truly great partnership. In a blog Michelle wrote for Horse Nation, you can tell these two were meant for each other. They’re on our list because sometimes you have to trust your gut and never give up.

Abby Hamblin

As a child, Abby Hamblin was an unquestionably brave rider. She and her rocket pony Cocoa would jump anything, anywhere and they had one speed – fast. Now a college student, Ms. Hamblin is getting ready to move up to Advanced with her Thoroughbred warhorse Silver Flash. Hamblin is on our list because she’s steadily produced this horse from the Novice level since 2011, she’s humbly building her business introducing young riders to eventing and because I’m just real proud of her.

Ariel Grald


Ariel Grald was featured in EN’s Rising Star series last April after having been named to the 2014 Eventing 25 Program list and winning at the Carolina International CIC2*. Currently based out of Setter’s Run Farm in Southern Pines, SC, Ariel has invested the time and effort into developing young horses and building strong partnerships with them. She bred her first upper-level horse, a Connemara cross named Practically Perfect, and she bought her current top horse LBF O’Leagh’s Image as a weanling. Ariel rides in memory of her mother, Carol, who passed away unexpectedly two years ago.

Cady O’Daly Farm

Cady O’Daly Farm has been breeding talented, amateur-friendly purebred Connemara and Connemara crosses for many years. So they aren’t “emerging” per se, but their horses are making themselves known as outstanding representations of their program!

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Logan Elliot and Cady O’Daly Michael. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld

Homebreds Cady O’Daly Gabriel and his full brother Cady O’Daly Michael have been dominating the American Eventing Championships the last four years. Michael and his rider Logan Elliot won the Beginner Novice Junior championship in 2011 and Novice Amateur championship in 2012. Besides all that, the Dailys are extensively involved in Pony Club, giving young riders a solid foundation of the basics and a positive experience in the sport.

Alexis Nelson and Total Eclipse

We love an underdog, and Allie Nelson and her Appaloosa pony are not your typical front runners at the NAJYRC. At age 11, Allie bought “Casper” for $800 and brought him along herself. He wasn’t an easy ride to begin wit, but Allie stuck with him while working three jobs to afford keeping and competing Casper. The hard work paid off last summer when Allie and Casper won the NAJYRC Junior One-Star Championship.

Alex Makowski

Alex Makowski earned the 2013 USEA Worth The Trust Scholarship after submitting an essay that eloquently outlined his goals and how he planned to achieve them. He wasn’t looking for big sponsors and owners, just the opportunity to ride and learn. His business is called Second Wind Equestrian, and in the last two years it has become clear that he is wise beyond his years. He is positive, reflective, and celebrates each and every little victory. He works long hours at multiple jobs to support himself and his horses. He also does volunteer work.

Alex Makowski and Grace. Photo by Steve Berkowitz

Alex Makowski and Grace. Photo by Steve Berkowitz

Alex is on this list because he is getting where he wants to go, step-by-step with a smile on his face, and because we all hope to be so fervently passionate that we would work so hard to achieve a dream.

Do you know a rider, breeder, owner, parent, or horse and rider partnership that deserves a tip of the hat from their community? Someone we should be rooting for this year? Tell us who they are and why they’re awesome in the comments.

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