My name is Jennifer Lackey. I am from New Jersey and I have been riding for as long as I can remember. About a year ago, I lost my best friend and the best competition partner one could ask for to a rare form of cancer. My mare, Moonlit Starz, was an Irish Sport Horse and I was lucky enough to ride her up through Training level. She gave me her all at every event we went to and never let me down. When I lost her, it was hard for me to get back out and compete.
At the time, I had just bought a young Irish Sport Horse by the name of Dallo De La Galerna (Orujo de la Galerna x Alisas de la Galerna), or Dallie as those who know him like to call him. He was a different ride for me, but being only six years old when I got him, I wanted to do everything I could to understand him better.
I'd had Dallie for about three months when I decided to go with my trainer, Debbie Adams of Flora Lea Eventing, down to Florida. Being so young, I didn’t have huge expectations for his first year of eventing. My main goal was to just get him out in the show environment and get some experience under his belt. It was a rough start for me at first because I lost my mare, Starz, while we were down in Florida. Between the loss of Starz and the change in ride from Starz to Dallie, it was hard for me to always stay positive.
Dallie and I started out slow, taking baby steps to improve his topline and flexion, but through his muscle development, Dallie eventually hit a rough patch in our training. Though he would jump anything you pointed him at, he could not hold a canter lead in dressage. My trainer and I worked during the months we were in Florida trying to build enough muscle for him to hold a lead in the canter.
My first event out was nerve-wracking. It was my first time out with Dallie and his first time at the Ocala Horse Trials. There were many new sights and noises for both of us to work around, yet he kept his head on and did amazing despite screaming children, carnival rides, and music. Though we didn’t place, I was very proud of the adult attitude my young horse maintained throughout our rides. The next few events in Florida went just as well and our canter leads became more and more consistent. Dallie was even in the placings twice out of our first four shows together!
We came back up north to New Jersey at the beginning of April and I continued to train with Debbie Adams and our canter leads continued to improve. We went to our first event at Flora Lea Farm about a month after we got home. The day was muddy and rainy from the start. It poured hard and the footing became very slippery during our dressage warm-up, but Dallie maintained his focus. It stopped raining just long enough for us to start our test, and even with a slight rain shower at the end, that Dallie's baby brain was not amused with, he did very well. We were lucky enough the day turned sunny in time for jumping, and Dallie went double clean to finish in first!
Our next was a big change from what Dallie was used to. Similar to Ocala, Essex had everything from tents to people tailgating to cars in the jumping ring, as well as on cross-country. He had not yet experienced this before but came off the trailer like a champ. From start to finish he was foot perfect, even with the new sights.
When it was time to come down for school in the fall, Dallie traveled to Virginia where he was set up at a quiet farm. We went to a few shows at the Kentucky Horse Park where he was introduced to yet another new atmosphere. Even though Dallie was a little unsure of the road surface and horse paths that took you by other barns and to and from the rings, he was willing the entire time. We had an amazing time and he truly gave me his all through all the changes along the way.
From the time I started training in Florida with my trainer to the shows we went to up north, I had no plans of qualifying for championships or getting any awards. But by December of 2018, Dallie and I had qualified for four different championships, earned a USEA Blue Ribbon Award, and earned the USEA 2018 Novice Young Adult Rider of the Year award.
I cannot begin to explain how lucky I was to find Dallie. Without him by my side this last year, all the hard work I put in with Starz would have been for nothing. He kept me going after the beginning of my show season was rocked by my loss. He has been a different ride but he has been honest, brave, and so trusting through our journey thus far. I am excited to move him up to Training level this coming year and explore our ability at higher levels. Dallie has truly been an honor to own and ride in our first year together, and I can’t wait to see where the road takes us!
The USEA is made up of over 12,000 members, each with their own special horses and experiences. The USEA's Now on Course series highlights the many unique stories of our membership. Do you and your horse have a tale to tell? Do you know someone who deserves recognition? Submit your story to Jessica Duffy to be featured.
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