by Tara ChristiansenThe American Quarter Horse Journal
It wasn’t easy, deciding to take a backseat at the AQHA World Championship Show, but that’s what Meghan O’Malley did.
“I won the world on her in the (amateur) hunter hack in the past two years,” says Meghan of A Chanceof Blueskies, a 2002 buckskin mare by Sky Blue Walker and out of the Thoroughbred mare One Day By Chance by Exuberant.
Not only had Meghan and “Lucy” won the amateur hunter hack world championship for the last two years, but they finished reserve in the race for the 2010 Farnam All-Around Amateur Award.
Looking to give Lucy a chance for a little extra pep at the 2011 AQHA World Show, Meghan and AQHA Professional Horseman Lainie DeBoer decided to focus solely on open competition.
“I decided to sit out this year. She’s usually tired from the schedule,” admits Meghan of Suffolk, Virginia. “She never has as good of a shot in the (open) classes as I think she could. It was a difficult decision for me, but I decided to sit out and let Lainie have the ride on her. I’m thrilled that I did – it made it that much more worth it.”
It isn’t just the wins, but the mare who wins them that are special to these two women.
“I’ve had her since she was a baby,” Meghan says emotionally. “She’s changed my life. She really has.”
“She’s amazing – she’s special,” interjects Lainie of Hugo, Minnesota. “This morning we both saw that spark and we both were like, ‘We’re getting out hack on today!’ It was like she told us she was ready to win today.”
“I flatted her this morning, kind of early, just to see where we were at,” Meghan says. “I sent Lainie a text, and I said, ‘You know, if you’re not feeling well today, I’ll go buy show clothes and do it myself!’”
“And I said, ‘No way!’” Lainie says with a laugh.
“We knew,” Meghan admits.
“We had a feeling,” Lainie adds.
Meghan and Lainie’s plan to pursue only an open world championship at this year’s World Show proved successful in senior hunter hack.
“I didn’t have to prepare her so much,” Lainie says. “She definitely had a little more juice to her in a good way. She’s a really quiet horse, so she just jumps better when she’s fresher – she’s got a little sparkle in her eye. Usually when we get to this last day, she doesn’t have the spark that we know and love about her.”
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All year long, Meghan and Lainie chose to take it easy on their special mare.
“She didn’t show much this year just because she didn’t need to,” Lainie says honestly. “We kind of hit a couple big ones, and that was it. We just try to keep her where she’s really happy at the end of the year. We sat out (the All American Quarter Horse Congress) this year.
“We peaked at the right place,” Lainie says. “It was a good choice.”
For Meghan, sitting in the stands proved to be a bit stressful.
“It’s a lot different being the owner in the equation; being up in the stands and watching this happen. I kind of know how my mom feels now!” Meghan says with a laugh. “I kind of hid behind, (Lainie’s assistant, Brad Foss), to watch the fences and I watched her on the rail and she’s just such a pleasure to watch.”
But sitting out for one year was about all that Meghan could handle.
“I’m gonna be back next year!” Meghan announces. “I’m psyched about it now. I needed a little refresher and to sit out.” Lainie is pretty happy with her win on Lucy and doesn’t mind handing the reins back over.
“I just don’t really feel like she needs to do the open,” Meghan says.
“Neither do I,” Lainie agrees. “I think we just have to pick and choose. She’s such a special mare, and she definitely tells us.
“Although I’d love to ride her, I want her to be great for Meghan in the amateur, and I really miss having Meghan here in the amateur. She’ll be back doing that, and I’ll take a back seat. I’ve got some other ones,” she says with a smile.
Those others ones include Lainie’s two other gold trophy earners from the 2011 AQHA World Show: One Royal Blue and Larks Big Leaguer. Lainie says that there’s one person she has to thank for aiding her in her four world championships at this World Show.
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“My assistant, Brad Foss: He never gets in these interviews, but he is the man behind all of this,”Lainie says. “He makes me look amazing. I’m going to treat him to the best dinner, and he can have a good time and I will take care of him. He really truly is the man behind all of this. He gets all of the credit for sure.”
In the height of all of the excitement, there’s one more thing (well, two), that Meghan and Lainie are excited about.
“In January, (Lucy) has two babies due,” Meghan says. “We did an embryo transfer. We bred her to Allocate Your Assets last year, and fingers crossed, I just hope they’re half as nice as she is. We were lucky enough to get two embryos on the first flush.”
“She’s got good eggs, and she’s a good mare,” Lainie adds with a hearty laugh.
Lainie DeBoer and A Chanceof Blueskies, owned by Meghan O'Malley, captured the senior hunter hack world championship at the 2011 AQHA World Show. (Journal photo).