Allison Taylor Stevens, a champion jumper and accomplished horsewoman, died Friday of injuries she suffered in a fall at a horse show in Pennsylvania. Miss Stevens was 16 and lived in Owings Mills.
Miss Stevens, who had completed her sophomore year at Garrison Forest School, was injured when her horse, Turbo, stumbled taking a jump at the Lion Country Horse Show in State College, Pa., threw her and fell on her.
Known as Ally, Miss Stevens often said that "going fast and jumping high" were two of the most important things in her life, her parents said.
Last year, she was National Champion Jumper in the children's division, Vermont Summer Festival champion and American Horse Show Association champion.
She competed and won many show championships in the Middle Atlantic region.
In 1999, she qualified for the Capitol Challenge in Washington, the Washington Invitational Horse Show and the North American League Championship, but had to withdraw last year when Gone Fishin, another horse she often rode that is owned by Garrison Forest School, was injured.
Family members said Miss Stevens remarked at the time, "Fish taught me how to accept success and defeat with equal grace and dignity."
"She never complained or cried. She accepted what had happened and was very concerned about the welfare of Fish, and that is the true mark of a real champion," her father, Michael J. Stevens, said yesterday.
Born in Oak Park, Ill., Miss Stevens lived in Weston, Conn., before moving to Owings Mills in 1991. She became interested in horses at age 3 and began riding in 1993.
"This was her thing, and she was very good at it," Mr. Stevens said. "She was totally focused and committed, and her ultimate goal was to go to the Olympics."
A tall blonde with brown eyes and a ready laugh, Miss Stevens was uncomfortable with her celebrity.
"Ally really tried to deflect the celebrity spotlight and was extremely modest about her accomplishments. She'd say, 'It's enough to know that I did it for myself,'" said her mother, Beth A. Stevens. She said her daughter was quick to give credit to her trainer and groom.
"She was a complete sportsman who was always smiling and never put on airs," said Debbie Supik-Jones, who retired as Garrison Forest riding coach this year and had accompanied Miss Stevens to many competitions during the past several years.
Mrs. Supik-Jones, a resident of Phoenix, said Miss Stevens had "high goals and worked hard to achieve them and never flaunted her success."
She said Miss Stevens carefully studied a course and formulated a plan before beginning competition.
"Riding jumpers is turning quickly and going to the next jump, and she did this in a most smooth way," said Mrs. Supik-Jones. "There was always lots of pressure, yet she always rose to the occasion and never let it bother her."
Miss Stevens had written a note that she kept tacked to a bulletin board in her bedroom, according to Mrs. Supik-Jones. "Please never be mad at my horse if something ever happens to me," it read.
On family vacations to Telluride, Colo., during the last five summers, Miss Stevens worked for a horse outfitter, preparing horses and guiding tourists on day rides through the Rockies.
"She was in her element when she was on a horse," said Roudy Roudebush, owner of Telluride Horseback Adventures. "She was so charming and was able to get my customers over their fear of horses. A hard worker, she never shirked a task."
Miss Stevens also played soccer at Garrison Forest, where she would have been a junior this fall. She was fond of animals and enjoyed traveling.
She attended Reisterstown United Methodist Church.
A memorial service for Miss Stevens will be held at 11 a.m. today in the chapel at Garrison Forest School, 300 Garrison Forest Road.
In addition to her parents, she is survived by a brother, Christopher T. Stevens of Owings Mills; a paternal grandmother, Marie F. Stevens of Frankfort, Mich.; her maternal grandparents, Everett H. and Hazel McDaniels of Canton, Ohio; aunts, uncles and cousins.