Remembering Richard Marshall Taylor

Photo © Liz Callar

BY RANDEE BECKMAN

Richard M. Taylor, a renowned Virginia horseman and leading figure in the industry, died Friday, September 18, 2020. Born and raised on a small farm in Hampton, Virginia, his love of horses was organic: his great grandfather began breeding ponies prior to 1900.  His father gave him his beginnings in the breeding industry and a young Richard was the farm “night watchman,” keeping an eye on the mares that were imminent. Soon after, he bred his first mare – and the rest, as they say, is history. 

Richard’s eye for pedigrees was evident at an early age and the first stallion he purchased was the famed Cowboy Joe, an outstanding small Thoroughbred that he went on to sell to Farnley Farm. 

In the 70’s, he purchased the stallion Ben Marshall and Venture Stable (c. 1972) moved from Hampton to Montpelier Station and a few years later daughter Drew was born. His propensity for coaching was highlighted when a young Drew was Champion and Reserve Grand Champion at the USEF Pony Finals. He honed his stallion preference to ponies and stood many of the hunter pony industry’s leading sires including Penrhyn Sporting Chance, Farnley Belshazzar, Falling Moon Merlin, Lands End Poseidon, Crossgates Larasan and Lands End Monarch, among others.

Photo © Chris Mo

Richard’s eye for excellence continued to be crafted and made evident in the legions of beautiful ponies and horses that were shown from his farm. In addition to breeding high quality ponies, he was most recognizable as the premier handler in the pony and hunter breeding rings, having handled for leading owners in the industry. His impressive list of accomplishments includes numerous Devon Championships and Best Young Pony honors, Sallie B. Wheeler/USEF Hunter Breeding National Championships, Horse of the Year winners, state association and zone champions as well as Virginia Pony Breeder Futurity Champions. His most recent feat was winning the Best Young Horse title at the Devon Horse Show for six consecutive years. He has the title of being the all-time leading consignor at the USEF Pony Finals Auction, having sold more than 2.5 million dollars worth of ponies through the years.

Richard often “held court” at the Somerset Store entertaining patrons with his storytelling wit and opinion. His generosity of time and knowledge to anyone who called asking advice or feedback was well known and appreciated. He contributed a balance and clarity to numerous committees of the United States Hunter Jumper Association, was a licensed official for US Equestrian and on the board of the Virginia Pony Breeders Association for many years. 

In addition to Patsy—his wife of 48 years—and daughter Drew T. (Steven) Hensley, he leaves a granddaughter, Grayson Lane Hensley, two sisters, Marsha T. (William) Rew; and Anne Warren Ferguson; two nephews; and a niece. 

A celebration of life will be held at a later date. 

Memorial contributions may be made to the Virginia Horse Center Foundation (Memo Line: In Memory of Richard M. Taylor) 487 Maury River Road Lexington, VA 24450.

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