Taylor Horn: Rising to new heights as Development Player of the Year

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Reigning National Men’s Singles Champion Taylor Horn deep in thought.

Taylor Horn is 6 foot six. That’s a tad under 2 metres for those used to sizing metrically.

It means that working in his day job for his father as a painter and decorator in Te Awamutu, he doesn’t have the need for one of those Renovator Transforma Ladders as much as more height-challenged people like you or I might.

It also means that standing on the mat, checking out the head at the other end of the lawn bowls rink, Horn gets a more bird-like Taylor’s-eye view of the potential play than his more often than not shorter opponents.

Whether that’s the secret of his success in the game of lawn bowls or not is difficult to say. But whatever the case, the complete Taylor Horn package ran away with the Male Development Player of the Year at the recent Bowls New Zealand Awards at Eden Park.

Horn has had a brilliant year : Winner of the Singles in the Summerset National Championships in 2019; Winner of the Singles for the winning Team North in the North v. South Tournament this year; and ranked as the Number One Men’s Player in the new Summer of Bowls rankings.

Like all winners in bowls … and all winners in sport for that matter (… and maybe all winners in life!), Horn’s wins haven’t come out of the blue. He’s been playing bowls since he was aged 11, when he started watching his parents Dean and Sheila Horn playing business house bowls at the Mercury Bay Bowling Club at Whitianga on the Coromandel.

“It was difficult at school to become good at a ‘mainstream’ sports like rugby or cricket in a small town like Whitianga,” observes Horn, “the opportunities to play competitively were so limited. But lawn bowls provided the chance to compete against others of any age and any skill level in the club or centre.”

10 years later, the rest, as everyone says, is history.

22-year-old Taylor Horn lifts the coveted National Men’s Singles trophy aloft following a spectacular win last season.

The 22-year old Horn is now making waves representing the Mangere Bowling Club. He’s unsure of the actual number, but he probably has 10 or so Club titles and maybe 5 Centre titles.

He has become a man in demand.

Last year in 2018 in Dunedin, Horn played in the Composite Four of Sheldon Bagrie-Howley, Seamus Curtin, and Jesse Russell. Between the 4 of them, they haven’t even been living on the planet for 80 years! Yet the team ended runner-up … pipped 21-13 by the formidable Composite Four of Ali Forsyth, Gary Lawson, Shannon McIlroy and Justin Goodwin.

Horn was in the New Zealand team that competed at Broadbeach in the Trans-Tasmans in 2017.

And these days, Horn is in the New Zealand High Performance Squad – being targeted by Bowls New Zealand as one of those players that has a very bright future in lawn bowls.

That suits Horn. He’s happy to eat, work and sleep bowls to reach the top of his game. “I like to give it everything,” he says. And to that end he plays to win, not to put up with second.

“Go big or go home I always say,” says Horn. That may have more cautious older players tut-tutting. But when you’re only 21 and have all the confidence of making the shot, it’s a game philosophy that makes the best better, and the impossible possible. It creates exceptional players who become used to doing exceptional things. Horn sees why he can do things. Not why he can’t.

That doesn’t mean Horn is exclusively passionate about bowls. “Being brought up in the country, I love hunting and fishing. Dad’s a competitive claybird shooter, and I enjoy having a go at that as well.”

When you’re 22 (remember that?), the world is your oyster. And no doubt we’ll be hearing a lot more of the name ‘Taylor Horn’ in the future – and hopefully soon.

Next week, (October 28-November 3), Horn will travel to Adelaide to represent New Zealand in the World Champion of Champion Singles, and with present champions being Blackjacks Shannon McIlroy and Jo Edwards, Horn will be hoping to continue the strong Kiwi record carved out at this event.

Good luck Taylor.

by Rob Davis