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November 6-21, 2015, Oklahoma City

Senior Hunter Hack

A Chanceof Blueskies claims senior hunter hack for Meghan O'Malley.

The torch passed November 7 when A Chanceof Blueskies, owned by Meghan O’Malley of Suffolk, Virginia, won the world championship in senior hunter hack.

A Chanceof Blueskies has been trained and is usually ridden by AQHA Professional Horseman Lainie DeBoer. But on November 7, Jessica Johnson of Pickerington, Ohio, was in the irons for Meghan at the 2012 AQHA World Championship Show.

“I hurt myself in August, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be 100 percent by the time the World Show came around,” Meghan said. “Entries were due, and originally we weren’t even going to enter the open classes.”

Lainie agreed to ride “Lucy” in senior working hunter – which they won – but she already had commitments for senior hunter hack.

“And I right away said, ‘Well, how about Jess?’” Meghan said. “Jessica went pro at the last World Show, and she was the first person I thought of.”

For Jessica, the world championship was her first as a professional.

“It feels awesome,” she said. “I’m so happy. Lucy is a dream. I could not have asked Lainie to let me ride a better horse. Letting me ride her – she is amazing to ride. She goes out there and she knows her job and is just soft and wonderful.”

Lainie has trained Lucy through the years, but she has also been training Jessica, and she said watching them together was gratifying.

“I’ve had (Jess) as my student, and it feels like we’re passing the torch,” Lainie said. “There are not a lot of young professionals, and that was something I wanted to do, was mentor somebody and bring them to this level. That’s a huge part of who I am and I did it.”

Jessica said it feels like she has passed a torch as well. For the past three years, Jessica won hunt seat equitation at the World Show. This year, that world championship went to Ashley Beim, also a student of Lainie’s.

“The torch has been passed two times in two different ways, so we’re pretty excited,” Lainie said.

Lucy’s day wasn’t done after her world championship in senior hunter hack. She still had to compete in amateur hunter hack with Meghan.

And next year, the mare can look forward to even more amateur competition.

“Last year, I said this is her last year for the open, and I think this year it really is her last year in open,” Meghan said. “Next year, we’re going to focus more on amateur. Lainie has the Huntfield Derby series, and I would really like to gear myself up and focus more on that next year.”
Jessica A. Johnson and A Chanceof Blueskies win senior hunter hack

Jessica Johnson rides A Chanceof Blueskies to the world championship in senior hunter hack for owner Meghan O'Malley. (Journal photo)