by Christine HamiltonThe American Quarter Horse Journal
A Chanceof Blueskies and Meghan O'Malley
“What just happened!?” Meghan O’Malley said coming out of the Jim Norick Arena, standing in the Gateway of Champions.
Her little buckskin mare, A Chanceof Blueskies, aka “Lucy,” carried her to two back-to-back AQHA world championships – and a total of three world championships in 24 hours – that’s what.
“I just won all three of my classes at the (2013 AQHA World Championship Show)!” Meghan said next, and got a big hug from her trainer, AQHA Professional Horseman Lainie DeBoer. To her November 14 title win in amateur hunter hack, on November 15 she added the amateur equitation over fences and amateur working hunter.
It brings Lucy’s total World Show amateur and open world championship-winning count to nine, since her first appearance in 2007.
The American Quarter Horse Journal didn’t talk to Meghan on Friday until after her second win of the day. (Immediately following the awards in the equitation over fences, she had to go right back in, first in the go in the working hunter.)
“At the World Show, since the (equitation over fences) goes before the working hunter, I try to use that class to prepare me for the working hunter – (eq over) is not my strong suit,” Meghan said. “Some of the horses are pretty handy and they turn well, but (Lucy is) a little more straightforward. (So) we focused more on things like pace and consistency and flow, the things you are more concerned with in the working hunter."
It was the same strategy they used in the same class finals in 2012 when Meghan and Lucy won the working hunter, but this year, the strategy included a win in the equitation over fences.
“I’m just shocked! I just cruised around! She could not have been better … it was probably the best hunter trip I’ve had in my life… The best I’ve done at the World in the equitation over fences was third (in 2008). It’s been a silent goal of mine to just be in the trophies again (in this class) because it’s something I struggle with.”
It was especially hard to turn right around from the awards presentation and go right back in to focus on the working hunter. But again, Lucy “could not have been better,” Meghan said.
“She’s really consistent,” she continued. “I live in Virginia, and (Lucy) stays in Minnesota with Lainie, so sometimes a couple of months go by and I don’t ride her. But I can get on her after a couple of months and pick right back up where I left off.
“What you see out there is how she is. I think about what she looks like and how she feels, and when I get on her, it’s there. I can’t explain it. This job is meant for this horse. I could not have a more suitable partner.”
Since Lucy lives in Minnesota, back home in Virginia, Meghan rides daily at her good friends’ place, Mike and Christy Britt. The Britts have barrel horses.
“I (ride) a really great horse; he was a junior rodeo horse,” Meghan said. “He is a Hancock-bred horse that has a head the size of a draft horse and huge feet and I ride him every day. So I have to also thank ‘Hootie’ my (horse) buddy at home for this. I ride barrel horses in an English saddle!”
The Britts also have Lucy’s two foals at their place, two long yearlings by Allocate Your Assets, a gelding named Gaining Altitude and a filly named Aloft.
Meghan calls Lainie an “intuitive trainer.” Lainie operates out of her DreamField Stable near St. Paul, Minnesota.
“She knows me really well, she knows when to push me and knows when to leave me alone,” Meghan explained. “Last night, when we had schooling for this, I was really tired. It’s been a really long week and I’ve ridden more this week than I have in a long time, since Lucy didn’t do the open classes (this year).
“(Lainie) knew that I was better off doing less. I think I jumped six jumps last night, total. I didn’t do a whole course, I didn’t jump down any of the lines; I just did parts, and just the parts we know I might have an issue with.
“She knows sometimes less is more. She doesn’t school me into the ground. And Lucy works well that way, too.”
Meghan calls Lainie “the missing piece” that turned Lucy from “good to great.”
She also had much to say for Brad Foss, Lainie’s road manager.
“(Brad) knows (Lucy) so well,” she said. “When we brought her up for the equitation over fences, sometimes she gets a little lit-up out here (in the Superbarn warm-up arena). The halter class had just let out, and they were all getting pictures, and there was a ‘buzz’ in the air – Lucy was a little frazzled.
“He just very calmly walked her away and got her settled before he put me up on her. ... He has an intuition about her because he knows her so well.”
Meghan’s not sure how they’re going to celebrate – she’s just glad her boyfriend, Mike Rodgers, could be here for the week: “He’s been such a wonderful support.” Her mother, Joanne, had surgery a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t come but has been watching via the live feed.
“I know we have dinner reservations tonight, I don’t know where they were,” Meghan said, and said her good-byes. “I have to call my mom!”
It's your moment; make it last forever! Videos of individual runs and class finals from the AQHA World Championship Show are available for purchase at www.aqha.com/mymoment. Plus, you can watch AQHA World Show video footage 24/7. This new service is optimized for Internet Explorer 10, Safari and most mobile Web browsers.