2022 Red Lodge
2022 Leadville Photo by Erika Hodges
2022 Leadville Photo by Erika Hodges
2022 San Juan
HOW I FOUND Skijoring;
By Tayler Stobaugh
Remember that saying as a kid? 1st the worst, 2nd the best and 3rd is the one with the treasure chest? It was supposed to make you feel better about where you placed. My, name is Tayler Stobaugh, but my fans call my Captain America. For whatever reason 3, has been a good thing for me this season. I also might just be grasping straws but here we go. Where to start? Well, first lets give you the boring background. I've been riding horses since I was a kid. The earliest memory was going up the the horses at the top of my neighborhood. Me and my best friend at the time, would bring dog leashes. We would wander into the pen and grab the horses with the leashes and somehow convince these mighty beasts to let us ride them. We would climb ontop and ride around until we fell off or if we saw a car coming. We were young enough to not know better but we also had an inkling this wasnt allowed. When I got older my parents got me into riding lessons where I learned what it took to care for a horse. I worked at the barn and rode as much as I could. I competed in 3 day eventing and had a blast. I could go more into detail about all that but I am trying to get to where I am today. So we can brush past all that. When I was 19, I made the move to montana. I left my life behind in Washington and started living out here. Now, I had heard of skijoring but never knew how to get involved when I moved out here. I Started working at a ranch and jumped right back into Horses. I met a handful of people who skijored who worked there or even went on rides. I attended some events as a spectator and I could feel my heart racing with each of the competitors. I knew I needed to be apart of this. So fast forward to me at 27. 3 years ago. Skijoring was the buzz around my head and I needed to get into it. I knew a gal named Brittany who did this. I called her one February night and asked how I could get involved. She simply asked if I knew how to ski. And I did. She asked if i was free that next weekend. I was. She told me if I skied behind her then i could also ride her horse and compete riding. So naturally I jumped at the chance. The race was Best in The West Show Down, in big sky montana. We signed up 3 times. I would ski behind her in womens and novice, and i could pull her in womens. And so we did. Skiing was a lot harder than I had expected. I was terrifed of the jumps and was shaking in my boots. I told her I wasnt going to go over the jumps and she told me I had to. I was in the gate trembling. The gate guy asked me "Why are you shaking Tayler" "Well i am terrified of those jumps Cuz" Cuz calmly replied "Well, youll either make them or you want. Now go do it" Very reassuring. But just like that off we went. I honestly blacked out the entire run and when I got to the end I was still holding the rope and went through the finish. I found out shortly after that I had made it over EVERY jump. However, i missed EVERY gate. I was upright and happy I finished. That was my first time ever skijoring. On a set of powder fat skis. I was hooked. It was my turn to ride and one thing about me is I love letting a horse run. Nothing is better. Plus Brittany trusted me to run on her horse. We go into the gate, Brittany tells me she is ready and off we go. I remember I was supposed to hold her horse back and I did so but her horse was a beast and his slow was still to fast. The rope left Brittany and it was just me and her horse galloping down the track. With each stride her horse took the more I knew I found what was missing in my life. The 3rd time I went up skiing i vaguely remember. I made it over the jumpes again and hit most of the gates and finished. I do enjoy skiing but all I wanted to do was be on the back of a horse galloping through snow down a track. Racing for the fastest time. I went to another race that year in Red Lodge. Brittany trusted me with another one of her horses and I got to ride and ski. This time I had 2 runs riding and 1 run skiing. After Red Lodge of 2020 I found my new addiction. When the race was over I needed to get my own horse and compete. That's where Little Bo Peep enters the picture. She was an off the track thoroughbred that never raced. Apparently she was really naughty when she got to run. I picked her up in october 2020 and was anxiously awaiting the next skijoring year. I rode her a handful of times before the skijor season. The weekend before we had a race, I remember having a practice in big sky. I was lowkey freaking out. I told the skier I wasnt sure what she would do and to let go if anything bad happened. He gave me the thumbs up. We hooked up the rope to the saddle. Handed the rope to him. He gave me the thumbs up and off we went... at a slow trot. Bo could care less there was a rope there. We went into a canter and my skier was moving back and forth along the snow for her to feel the weight. She was still unphased. I told the skier to hold on and kicked her. She leapt into a gallop down the path and was running for gold. She didnt care there was someone behind her. She was fine with it. I FINALLY have my own skijoring horse. Sadly this thing called "covid" loomed over our heads. Most of the 2021 races ended up canceling except for Pinedale and Saratoga. (There were others these are just the 2 i ended up going to) Now I had my own horse and I got to use her. No more borrowing a friends horse, this was it. I got my own skijor horse. So, as I stated above, my fans call my Captain America. I love America. So for 4th of july the 2020 I had bought these super cool american flag pants. When skijoring was happening, i just so happened to bring them with me. I also had this super awesome american bald eagle flag hoodie that arrived in the mail before Pinedale. So naturally I had to wear it. I told myself it was just going to be a one time thing, however after I wore it in Pinedale in 2021, I was easily recognized. I can be shy (shocker for people who know me) and this outfit was the easiest way to break the ice. I started to meet more of skijoring community and it was awesome. All thanks to my super cool american flag get up. We really didnt place my 2nd year skijoring but i was so proud of my horse Bo. She would run and she did good. I didnt think she was super fast but she was good enough. After that skijoring year I started to ride Bo more often on my days off. Summer shortly arrived and Bo and I did trail rides and adventures into the mountains. I would occasionally run her out in the wilderness and loved every second of it. Skijoring was always on my mind and I couldn't wait for it to start. January 2022 rolled around. I was looking at the races to go to and was on the fence of going to Colarado. I also wasn't sure what divison to go into. I told myself, if I found a skier needing a pull I'll just go into that division. Turns out, one of my buddies i travel with needed another pull in open. So there we were. Ridgeway was an amazing experience. I found out Bo can Go. Bo hit a gear I never knew she had and I flew down that track with my skier. It was exhilarating and awesome. I LOVED every second of it. My horse placed within the top 10 times and I was so proud of her. We went to Ridgeway, Pagosa, Pinedale, Big Sky, Whitefish, west yellowstone, leadville, and Red lodge this year. My horse never let me down at any of those races. She ran her heart out and could hang with the fast open horses. I have never been more proud in my life. In West Yellowstone we got 5th and I cried. In Red Lodge we got 3rd and I was stoked. I went to some races with just my friend Jenna, who was extremely new to the sport. In life, normally I am terrified of new things. However, this Skijroing community makes everyone feel extremely welcomed. This, being my 3rd year, I have made some of the best friends I could ask for. I have my Skijoring family and I am so lucky to have them. SHOUTOUT to Club Med. Yall are awesome. The people I have met are so encouraging and kind. The amazing thing about this community is, even though we are all competing against each other, we are cheering the loudest for everyone when they take off down that track. It is unlike any other sport I've been apart. I learned from Skijoring its not about Winning at every race. It is about all the memories you make along the way. After this season and ending it with 3rd overall and all my new and old friends I made... I couldn't end the season on a better note. Little Bo Peep and I look forward to another year in 2023.