A Horse-Showing Dream Come True
A horse-crazy little girl grew up to win the 2013 Farnam All-Around Amateur award at the AQHA World Championship Show.
October 21, 2014
From The American Quarter Horse Journal
As we look forward to the AQHA World Championship Show November 8-22 in Oklahoma City, let’s glance back at a highlight from last year’s event:
Years ago, Meghan O’Malley of Suffolk, Virginia, would stay up late as a child to watch “America’s Horse TV.” She remembers one person in particular who was interviewed on the show - multiple Farnam All-Around Amateur winner Karen Evans Mundy.
“I would see her win (at the AQHA World Championship Show) on horses that she bought as yearlings,” Meghan says, “and that was a large part of why I wanted to get a yearling.”
That inspiration hit Meghan 10 years ago.
A city kid who was born loving horses, she got her first horse when she was 14, and it happened to be a Quarter Horse. She showed on the hunter circuit and a little in AQHA. Another Quarter Horse later, and she was showing Novice. Finally, she came to a point where she really wanted to show at the AQHA World Show level.
And that’s when she remembered Karen: “Thinking back on those interviews with Karen, I thought, realistically, the only way I could get (a World Show-quality horse) is if I saved and bought the best young horse that I could buy. I thought, ‘If she could do that, I can, too.’ ”
So that’s what she did. She looked at dozens of yearlings and weanlings. Finally, she and her mother, Joanne, drove through a snowstorm to Julie O’Brien’s place in Southington, Ohio, to see an Appendix buckskin filly by Sky Blue Walker named A Chanceof Blueskies.
“I knew when I saw her that she was it,” Meghan says. “She was fuzzy … a homely weanling. I saw her in the dead of winter. I was sure that this was going to be the horse. And it was.”
But never in her wildest dreams did Meghan imagine that 10 years later, that fuzzy long weanling she called “Lucy” would carry her as far as her inspiration, Karen Mundy. But Lucy did.
Meghan and Lucy won three 2013 amateur world championships - in hunter hack, equitation over fences and working hunter - and captured one of the AQHA World Show’s most coveted awards, the 2013 Farnam All-Around Amateur title.
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“This was never a goal! I’ve been coming to the World Show (for years), but this isn’t something I aim for,” Meghan says.
Lucy lived in Meghan’s backyard for the first three years Meghan owned her. In her spare time from her full-time job handling imports for a retail chain, Meghan worked with the filly and started her.
The filly was so easy and so willing that Meghan told her that if she never wanted to grow up to be a show horse, Meghan would be OK with that. But Meghan tried a few shows anyway.
“I began showing her, and I took her to a couple of shows as a 3-year-old, and she whinnied the whole way around the ring. We did hunter under saddle for a couple of years and started her in the hack. … I thought, ‘Well, I like riding her around so much that if all I get to do is hunter under saddle, I’m OK with that.’ ”
But Lucy showed talent as a hunter.
“It was like she was born knowing what to do. I can’t explain, really, how very little ‘training’ - for lack of a better word - has gone into this horse. We’ve never had to ask her to jump better or be steady, it’s how she is.”
Meghan had help from friends and trainers along the way, but she credits AQHA Professional Horsewoman Lainie DeBoer of Forest Lake, Minnesota, with helping turn Lucy from “good to great.”
“Lainie had a mare that she showed (at the World Show) several years ago, Regal Intentions, that she won the World on,” Meghan recalls. “There was something about that mare that reminded me of Lucy, a similar way of going, and I thought, ‘This is the picture I want for my horse.’ ”
So at age 7, Lucy moved to Minnesota to live with Lainie, and Meghan began commuting to ride.
“It works, and I don’t mess with it,” she says.
Lucy’s first World Show appearance was in 2007, and she has never not made a finals since. She won her first world championship in 2009 in amateur hunter hack and won it again in 2010. She won senior hunter hack in 2011, and in 2012, she won senior hunter hack again in addition to winning senior working hunter and amateur working hunter.
Meghan and Lucy have been in the top five for the all-around standings several times, finishing fourth in 2008, third in 2009 and reserve in 2010.
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“She has now won (a world championship) in every class that she has shown in,” Meghan says. “And now has won this. Where can you go from here? Since I’ve had her … the biggest part of this has been the journey for me.”
After last year, Meghan made the decision to not show Lucy any more in open. Now that the mare is 11, Meghan plans to continue to enjoy her and “conserve her.”
“If she woke up tomorrow and said, ‘I don’t think I want to go to the World Show again,’ I’d say ‘OK, you don’t owe me anything.’ ”
She adds, “I love it (at the World Show). I love this show, this arena, these horses … This is a big part of what keeps me going. I don’t show much during the year, but when I do show, it’s to come here. The vibe here is different from anywhere else.”
First awarded in 1983, the all-around amateur award goes to the top amateur horse-and-rider team who earn the most points during the World Show amateur competition. The winner’s prize package includes $15,000, $1,000 in Farnam products, a WeatherBeeta blanket and an original Lisa Perry Bronze.
Meghan received the award November 16, 2013.
Rounding out the top five were Whitney Walquist-Vicars of Cleburne, Texas, and Southwestern Gunman; third, Hannah Bedwell of Ball Ground, Georgia, and Regal To A Te; fourth, Jim Bound of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, and Bound To Be Dun; and fifth, Lori Wyman of Osceola, Nebraska, and Little Doc Lady.
“It’s just kind of crazy to be here and remember that 12-year-old girl (I was),” Meghan says. “I didn’t come from the kind of place where we had money to buy a great show horse. The horses that we could buy always had something wrong.
“But that’s what set me up for Lucy. I had experience with horses that weren’t perfect, so by the time I got one that was as good as her, it was easy.
“I just hope that there’s some kid somewhere who sees this or hears this or reads this and knows that they can do it, too.”
Amateur exhibitors competed in a variety of events throughout the American Quarter Horse Association's 2013 Bank of America Amateur World Championship Show. Last year, 54 contenders competed for the Farnam All-Around Amateur Award and their chance to win $15,000.