Taylor Rivera8th Grade
Eighth-grade student Taylor cannot remember a time that she did not share her life with horses. She has spent time around them since she was born, and began riding a pony named Roxy when she was only four years old. While sitting on the floor of her barn, surrounded by stalls of horses, Taylor said, “Horses are my life. They are amazing.”
Taylor switched to Laurel Springs from a traditional school at the beginning of sixth grade. “We chose Laurel Springs because of the challenging curriculum and college prep aspect of the school. After high school, I plan on attending a university with a rodeo team, and hope to earn a scholarship through the California High School Rodeo Association.”
When asked about what it was like to adjust to our distance learning model, in which she takes a mix of online and text-based courses, she said, “I loved it. Laurel Springs allows me to accomplish everything I want to do.”
As an experienced rider, Taylor competes regularly in rodeos. Her primary focus is barrel racing, which requires her to pilot her horse in a cloverleaf pattern around fifty-five gallon barrels as quickly as possible. In July, Taylor captured first prize in the youth category at the National Barrel Horse Association’s Las Vegas Supershow, racing faster than many fierce competitors.
While Taylor also competes in other rodeo events, such as roping, goat tying, and pole bending, her favorite event is barrel racing. “It’s really technical, and a thousandth of a second means everything. I like going fast. It’s kind of a rush, and feels great when you have a good run.” Taylor works with her horses for hours every day to understand their specific personalities, strengths and weaknesses while training for a rodeo. “With barrel racing, it’s a seventeen-second run. All the hours of training I do amounts to a fraction of a second. It feels good to ride different horses and learn the differences between them.”
Living on a five-acre California horse ranch means that Taylor’s life is busy. On a typical day, she wakes up to “feed the horses, goats, chickens, pigs and dogs,” and then settles down to work on math while eating her own breakfast. After that, she will spend several hours riding horses before taking a break for lunch, when she will tackle lessons in a few more subjects. Her afternoons include more riding and time with friends, and then dinner with family—sometimes followed by an evening horseback ride. If Taylor is traveling to a rodeo competition, she completes coursework on the road. She said that she enjoys being able to arrange her daily schedule so that school and outside interests can be accommodated.
One of Taylor’s teachers, Joy Nehr, said that, “Taylor is a very diligent student who manages to balance her academics with her rodeo career. She often works ahead prior to competitions and then will work to catch up afterwards. The quality of her work is always top-notch. Additionally, Taylor is an avid participant in the LSS Live sessions and will even request private meetings to work through anything she doesn’t understand.” Taylor said that Ms. Nehr is “awesome” and is also looking forward to building relationships with new teachers this year.
Laurel Springs is proud to be able to provide Taylor with the flexibility she needs in order to pursue a college prep education, as well as follow her passion with horses.