The international pony teams competitions of 1959, ’61 and ’63 were prestigious events, and Taylor-Jones ponies participated in all of them. For the first competition, ponies from England came and showed against U.S. ponies at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Two years later, U.S. ponies traveled to England to show at Windsor Castle. And in 1963, the U.S. ponies competed against Canada at the Fairfield Hunt Club (Conn.).
Taylor-Jones was selected to accompany the U.S. ponies to England in 1961. “They trained under Gordon Wright for two weeks at [the U.S. Equestrian Team headquarters in] Gladstone (N.J.). When we went to England, we were stabled at grounds on Windsor Castle, and they trained for another couple of weeks,” Taylor-Jones recalled.
They flew in an old World War II four-engine plane. “I was convinced I’d never see land alive again,” she said. “The English treated us royally,” she added. “We toured the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace, had high teas at the fanciest hotels, went to theaters and had lavish meals. We won the competition.”
Just What She Wanted
Throughout the 1960s and early ‘70s, Taylor-Jones was breeding ponies, usually to stallions from Dunning’s Farnley Farm. She was given a lovely Welsh mare that had shown successfully under the name Pandora. She bred the mare, with the registered name Upland Ripple, to Farnley Lustre. And in 1975, Cymraeg Rain Beau was born.
“He was a beautiful foal. He was special from the start. He was a beautiful mover and a real character,” Taylor- Jones said.
Rain Beau won in the pony breeding division at Devon as a yearling and 2-year-old. “We never broke him. We started breeding him when he was 3, and everything he had was lovely,” she said. “I had mares coming from as far away as Florida and Connecticut. We never could collect Rain Beau, and that was before people were collecting and shipping semen.”
Rain Beau’s first foal, bred when he was 2, was fittingly the last foal Taylor-Jones got out of the first pony she bought, Gremlin’s Delight. That pony was Swan Song, who was later a mount for international show jumper Lauren Hough when she was 8.
With Rain Beau in the barn, Taylor-Jones became the preeminent breeder of ponies. “The biggest advantage Marguerite had was a foresight beyond her time. She knew what she wanted a pony to look like 20 years later and was determined to get there,” Richard said. “She and Kenneth had a sense that a hunter pony should look like a green conformation horse.”
Taylor-Jones used to say that if she was going to walk out to the barn and feed 17 ponies, they’d better have pretty heads hanging over the stall doors. “I liked a pretty head, and I liked a good, straight hind leg,” she said. “I always figured I could fill in the rest of it. I just love a pony with a pretty head and neck. Rain Beau put that on his get. I bred for the whole thing—looks and temperament and movement and jump.”
In 1983, Rain Beau’s son, Hidden Creek Rain Fox (Cymraeg Rain Beau—Thomirror, Sir Thomson) arrived.
“He’s a perfect example of a large pony. He was champion at Devon and carried on Rain Beau’s legacy,” Taylor-Jones said of the Welsh-Thoroughbred cross.
Blue Rain (Cymraeg Rain Beau—Blue Haviland, Farnley Lustre), the current leading pony hunter sire, was born in 1989.
“She bred and raised some great ponies. Breeding is a hard thing to do, and she came up with a lot of good ponies,” said Kenny Wheeler, who showed many of Taylor-Jones’ ponies on the line and is a good friend. “She’s a good judge of a pony and a really straightforward woman. Win or lose, I never heard Marguerite say a bad word about anything, and that’s unusual for horse show exhibitors.”
Richard added that Taylor-Jones’ sportsmanship stood out to him, too. “When she competed and didn’t do well, the thought was never to complain about the pony not going well or the judging. It was always to come home and get better. You can to this day go to Devon and be beaten, and if your thought is anything other than coming home and improving for next year, you’re not going to make it. That’s probably what she did better than anybody else,” Richard said.
In 1983, Marianne got married and moved to the Charlottesville area. She took the stallions and mares and show ponies, and life at Taylor-Jones’ farm in Hampton slowed down a bit.
“The heyday was in the early and mid ‘80s. Mom was Taylor Made Ponies, and I was Taylor Made Annex. She came up every week and was at all the shows. It was a labor of love, and we did it together,” Marianne said.
Taylor Made ponies sold all over the country, including to celebrities, such as Linda Blair, star of The Exorcist, Maria Shriver, Paul Newman and John Mellencamp. Sallie Wheeler bought all the ponies for her children from Taylor-Jones. But even at the height of the fame, Taylor-Jones was mindful of her ponies’ fates and would always take back a pony if it needed a home.
“I tried my best to place my ponies in good homes. I wanted to provide for them,” she said.
By 1991, however, Marianne decided to phase out of the business. The mares went back to Taylor-Jones, Hidden Creek’s Rain Fox went to stand at Champlain Isle Ponies in Vermont, and Rain Beau went to North Carolina to stand at Carol Barber’s Arabelle Farm. He passed away in December 2000.
Taylor-Jones still owns the Hampton farm where it all began, but she lives elsewhere. She keeps a Dutch Warmblood mare at the farm and returns each day to visit. “I go every day, and I’ve got an office in an old tackroom, and I do crafts there. It’ll always be my home,” she said.
“I rode right up until 10 years ago. I could still ride now, but I’m 78 and my mare has got a little spook in her. I don’t need her to jump out from under me one day and break a hip,” Taylor-Jones said.