Taryn McAllister turns a lifelong love into full-time career

Photo of woman looking at and petting horse

Taryn McAllister was in the right place, at the right time, to become Lake Oswego Hunt Club’s next barn director. But without her associate’s degree in animal technology – horse management, she may never have had the chance.

McAllister grew up riding horses. From the age of five years old, she rode. By age seven she was showing, then later riding Arabian Saddle Seat, a form of English riding that is unique from hunt or dressage. McAllister moved on to show jumping, which she still does to this day. 

“It was always an agreement with my parents that I would go to college if they supported my horses and my shows,” she said.

McAllister moved to Oregon -- by way of Washington --- as an adult. “I wanted my daughter to be closer to my parents,” she said. Once they were in the Willamette Valley, McAllister enrolled in the Animal Technology – Horse Management Program at LBCC, fulfilling that childhood promise.

She graduated in 2017 and immediately went to work as a stable attendant and trainer for the Portland Mounted Patrol. “I saw the job opening and applied,” she said. “Even with my history and horse background, they wouldn’t have considered me without that degree.”

In 2018 the small program was decommissioned by Mayor Ted Wheeler. That came as a surprise to McAllister. “Our small program had 300% more positive interactions with the community than other police units,” she said. 

While McAllister was now unemployed, the experience was not a complete loss. McAllister had developed a relationship with the barn where the Portland Mounted Patrol stabled its horses – the Lake Oswego Hunt Club.  In 2018, the facility manager resigned. McAllister was named the new interim barn manager, then its permanent director. 

The Lake Oswego Hunt Club was built in 1937 and, up until COVID, was the longest continually -run rated dressage facility in the state. McAllister oversees the 19-acre facility--with a 42-stall horse barn, 4-stall annex, indoor and outdoor arenas and quarter-mile trail--and manages the Riding Academy, the eventing classes and, in a non-COVID year, up to seven large events. 

McAlister credits LBCC with giving her the knowledge she needs to do her job well. “I had the knowledge of horses and that background,” she said, “but the program [at LBCC] gave me the business management side of things.” McAllister described classes that taught her accounting, depreciation of assets, and marketing, but also the technical information about the equine digestive system and feed science, and techniques like mud management.

“Students in the program get a great feel for what they might like in the industry,” McAllister said. “For me, in this job, I use everything I learned.”