DERRY — King of Spades is his official competition name. Around the barn, he’s known as Leroy.
This horse spends some days grazing in a Chester field, but he also works hard with one local middle-schooler — a successful team making strides on the equestrian circuit.
Taylor Svenconis, 14, is a rider with a mission — to win big on Leroy and learn as much as she can about horses and competition.
The West Running Brook Middle School eighth-grader recently competed in New York state for the Interscholastic Equestrian Association Championship. She placed third in hunter/jumper events, bringing her middle school age group team to a sixth-place ranking nationwide.
Taylor regularly competes in New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine; she has won many awards for her riding talents.
It’s not just Taylor earning the ribbons. Leroy also puts his best hoof forward.
The horse lives at Senator Bell Farm in Chester, a sprawling property that hosts regular horse shows, offers lessons and boards dozens of animals.
Taylor goes to Senator Bell on almost a daily basis, retrieving Leroy from his stall for some practice in a nearby corral.
Competitions take up most of the young girl’s weekends, but she still finds time to be a straight-A honors students and take part in school track team events.
Taylor has a strong support system. Grandmother Gloria Svenconis is a regular fixture at competitions, traveling with her granddaughter and offering moral support and financial help.
“If I didn’t have Nana, I wouldn’t be doing shows,” Taylor said.
Her grandmother may not be on the back of a horse, but Taylor’s mother, Tanya Allen, said it’s almost like being there.
She even helps her granddaughter clean the stall. Leroy’s stall has a special name plaque attached.