Erin Taormino did not grow up showing reined cow horses. She did not grow up on a ranch and did not even think about becoming a horse trainer. Yet, to a sold out crowd at the 2015 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity, she sported the phrase “I can and I will” on her arm with gold ink as she grabbed the title of Reserve Open Champion. Erin Taormino shows that no matter your beginning, with a dream, determination, and some grit anything is possible. She has proven herself a fierce competitor in the reined cow horse world, and there are no signs of her backing down now.
Getting Her Start
Growing up in Grenfell, Saskatchewan, Canada, Taormino had a humble introduction to the world of horse showing.
“I kind of got started, just with a little pony in 4-H,” Taormino explains, “then I moved to the AQHA all around showing-- horsemanship, hunter under saddle, and equitation. I probably started showing all around seriously when I was 15 or 16.”
Taormino had success as an AQHA youth showing all around. She had the chance to show at elite shows, such as the All American Quarter Horse Congress. After she finished her youth career, Taormino pursued showing all around at the open level.
“The people I went to ride with, I met them at the Congress my last year of youth and they told me to come down and ride. They were living in Aubrey, Texas,” Taormino recalls. “I sold my youth horse shortly after I graduated, finished my youth career, packed my bags and moved south.”
Though she had hopes of pursuing showing all around, her first job did not last and she was in search of her next horse related job.
“I started loping horses for Del Bell, just in the cutting,” Taormino says. “I never had anything to do with it, but I wasn’t ready to move home. I really liked Texas, so I just started randomly loping cutters.”
It was through the cutting horse trainer that Taormino was introduced the discipline she would later base her career on.
“When I went to loping horses for Del Bell, he was at a ranch in Texas and Ron Ralls was there,” Taormino explains. “Del left shortly after I started working for him and couldn’t take any help with him. So I stayed working for Ron Ralls at the ranch in Texas. And that was when I was very first introduced to cow horses.”
Taormino is an up and coming trainer in the cow horse industry, but trainer was a career that almost never happened for her.
“I always said that I didn’t want to make my hobby my career, because I was worried about getting burned out. I was very worried about ruining my passion for what I loved to do. So, I tried to do some other stuff and I hated it. All I wanted to do was ride horses. So, I ended up making it my career,” Taormino says laughingly.
Coming Up the Ranks
Taormino is taking the Reined Cow Horse world by storm. In a few short years, she managed to become one of NRCHA’s top twenty open riders. However, the long road to success was paved with blood, sweat, and tears.
Taormino explains, “I worked for Ron Ralls for four, four and a half years. And then I worked for Todd Bergen for five years. And then we (her and husband Anthony) got the job at Gardiner Quarter Horses. It was the first time we went out on our own. We worked for Gardiner’s for about two and a half years”
Though it may seem she sprung to success overnight, Taormino faced struggles breaking through her role as an assistant trainer.
“I think back to a lot of those guys that I idolize,” she says, “they had a long road ahead of them too. You hit a little and miss a little, hit a little and miss a little. I think that’s part of the course until you figure out your groove and you get good stock.”
On Her Own
Just recently, the Taorminos made another big move and established their own business—Taormino Performance Horses.
“We were looking for a change,” Taormino explains. “Gardiner Quarter Horses are downsizing a little. We were looking to expand and get more centrally located.”
This change meant relocating to an Oklahoma horse and cattle operation—7S Stuart Ranch. The Stuart Ranch, located in Waurika, is owned by Terry Stuart Forst.
“We’re back up in the middle of things,” Taormino says. “It’s close to a lot of horses, a lot of clients, and it’s an amazing facility to work out of. For us to start our business, we couldn’t ask for a better spot really.”
The Taorminos have big plans for their new business.
Taormino tells us, “We’re very lucky. We have quite a few outside horses right now. We have a lot of really nice, young horses coming up. We’re trying to keep a good number so we can do a good job and have good, broke, solid horses and not string ourselves out too thin. But, that’s our plan, to build a good name and a good program.”
Repeating Success at the SBF
Taormino laid it all on the line at the 2015 Snaffle Bit Futurity. A 228.0 down the fence clinched the title of Reserve Open Champion. She is now set out to repeat her success.
“My game plan going into Snaffle Bit this year is to keep an open mind.” Taormino explains. “Last year I went in very unassuming and I’m going to try to do the same this year. I’m not going to change anything, I’m just going to have my horses as broke as I can and put the runs together that I put together. Similar to last year, try to be consistent.”
With three months between major shows, it’s hard for trainers to keep their futurity horses show ready. Taormino has some ideas for keeping her horses’ competitive edge.
“We’re going to start hauling to a lot of smaller shows,” she says, “whatever we can to keep getting in the pen. Keep attacking a couple little bobbles here and there and see if we can’t smooth things out.”
It was at the 2015 Snaffle Bit Futurity that Taormino first heard about Kimes Ranch Jeans. At the following NRCHA World Show, she sported the famous horns.
“I was getting sick of all the bling on the jeans and I couldn’t handle it. I just wanted some normal jeans,” Taormino explains. “McKenzie Parkinson sent me my first couple pairs of Kimes Ranch jeans. It was at the NRCHA world show she brought them and that is where I first tried them and loved them.”
Taormino’s favorite style is the Francesca, which she wears on the ranch and at the shows.
The newest Kimes Ranch women’s jean just hit the market and Taormino says, “I actually just tried on the Alex…LOVE THEM! They might take over the Francesca, I don’t know because I’m a pretty big fan of the Francesca, but I ordered some and I can’t wait to get them.”
Making your living in the saddle means having comfortable, durable jeans is a must.
“I love the style. I love that they fit your body good,” Taormino says. “For me, I have trouble getting waists to fit. Most jeans kind of pooch in the back. I’ve ridden in them a ton and torture them at horse shows all day long and I love them. It’s not like you are waiting to get your jeans off- they’re so comfortable.”
Taormino says, “I choose to endorse Kimes Ranch because of the quality of product that the product and I’m proud to wear it. You can’t deny quality of product.”