A Look Inside the Mind of a Champion

Mallory Wachob of Chardon: 2013 All American Quarter Horse Congress Champion

The All American Quarter Horse Congress (AQHC) is the World’s Largest Single-Breed Horse Show. The show receives more than 17,000 horse show entries during its three-week schedule and attracts more than 650,000 people to the Columbus area.

The 47th AQHC was held October 4-27 at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus. Throughout its three-week duration, exhibitors competed in a wide variety of events from Hunter Under Saddle and Western Pleasure to Barrel Racing and Pole Bending.

Some of the most prestigious awards highlight the versatility of the American Quarter Horse and its ability to successfully compete in many different types of classes. These awards include six All-Around awards, one each for Open, Amateur, Youth, Youth aged 15-18, Youth aged 12-14, and Youth aged 11 and Under as well as four High-Point awards, one each for Amateur Select, Novice Amateur, Novice Youth aged 14-18, and Novice Youth aged 13 and Under.

In order to be eligible for an All-Around or High-Point award, the horse must compete in at least three different categories of events as determined by the American Quarter Horse Association. Each horse then receives points, based on how they placed in each class.

Mallory and Spock

Mallory Wachob of Chardon, Ohio and her horse Millun Star Trek, a thirteen year old gelding, qualified and earned the Reserve High-Point Novice Youth 14-18 award at the 2013 All American Quarter Horse Congress along with eight medals and additional awards from AQHA (All American Quarter Horse Association) and NSBA (National Snaffle Bit Association). The Congress awards include:

  • Congress Champion in Hunt Seat Equitation Novice Youth 14-18
  • Reserve Congress Champion in Hunter Under Saddle Novice Youth 14-18
  • Top 15 in Western Showmanship Novice Youth 14-18

It’s always fascinating to get inside the mind of a champion to see what drives them and how they achieved their dream. Take a peek into the mind of Mallory and see what led to her recent and admirable success. I asked her several questions. I think as you read her answers, you’ll be amazed at the depth of focus and maturity of this 16 year old champion.

How long have you been showing?

I have been riding for ten years and showing for eight years.

Have you had the same trainers all along?

I have had three trainers along the way. When I was five, I took lessons from Connie Vasileff with Hidden Creek Quarter Horses. She was my first trainer and I continue to keep two of my horses with her today. About the age of six or seven until a couple years ago, my second trainer and 4H advisor was Chelsea Nau. I leased my first pony Alex from Chelsea and spent most of my riding career with her. She provided my foundation and much of what I know about horses and riding today. I attribute many of my past achievements and awards to her training including 4H, the Geauga County Fair, All American Youth Show, and State Fair.

My current trainers and coaches are Seth and Amber Clark of Eaton-Clark Performance Horses. Their specialty is showing on the national circuit versus local circuit. Seth and Amber have taught me to look outside my comfort zone; that hard work, dedication, confidence, and making choices makes a difference when reaching for my dreams. They are so dedicated, and I have grown so much because of them and couldn’t have been a Congress champion without them.

MJ & Seth-Clark

Do you prefer Western or English competitions or enjoy both equally?

I have always been more of a Western person, but my horses and I have always been better at English. When Millum Star Trek and I are in the English ring, we read each other’s minds.

Is this the first time you have competed in the Congress?

Once, in 2010, I took a horse that I had shown locally and wasn’t prepared for what to expect. This is the first time that I have competitively shown at Congress.

Explain the difference between Youth aged 15-18 and Novice Youth 14-18.

These are different skill levels. In 2014 I will be competing in the Youth division.

How many competitors are in the Novice Youth category?

At Congress, there were typically 140 to 180 riders per class. I would guess 600 to 800 in total.

Describe how you felt when you went into the ring for your first competition and then how you felt as they began announcing the winners.

Our first event at the Congress was Hunter Under Saddle which is our second strongest class. My trainers and I practiced in the show ring at 2 a.m. the night before in preparation, so I was confident that Millun Star Trek and I were ready to compete. I was dreaming of getting Top 10. When I won Reserve Congress Champion, my friends, family, and trainers had tears in their eyes.

A few days later, I competed in Hunt Seat Equitation. We started with 180, were called back to the top 30, then patterned again to the top 20. For the finals, we performed on the rail. There were four judges, and after individual ranks were called for each judged, I thought I could get 3rd. When I was announced as the Congress Champion of the event, we all cried!


Eric, Mallory’s dad adds: I was unable to make it to the show on that day, but watched it live on equine.com. You always want the best for your child and watching the countdown to Top 10, then number 3, then Reserve…. I was so proud. When I watched her Hunt Seat Equitation class, she rode perfect. I knew she was a top 5! Little did I know….

I can remember in 2010 when she came back from the Congress. She was so amazed at the skill level she had seen. She told me that before turning 18, her goal was to be a Congress Champion and bring home a jacket and bronze horse trophy.

She has worked so hard to get there and has given up so much. Since being with Eaton-Clark, she competes in numerous out of state shows, sometimes every other week, which require four days at a time. There have been weeks where she never spent time with friends, missed bonfires, missed family meals, spent late nights doing homework, trained at the barn for hours on end and yet couldn’t wait to do it all over again.

She has such passion for someone her age. Mallory and her brother are such responsible, fun, smart kids that just absolutely love life, friends, and family. My wife and I are very fortunate.

Not just anyone can attain this award. What advice would you give to a younger rider who wants to follow in your footsteps to achieve what you have?

If you show competitively, you already give up so much to get there. I have so much respect for everyone that performs at Congress and on the Quarter Horse Circuit. Most people have no idea. I guess four things come to my mind.

First, you need to love to ride, have the drive to be the best that you can, and a family that will give up an equal amount of time. Besides my parents, my Grandpa Jim is my biggest supporter, and I couldn’t have done it without him. In the beginning, he encouraged me to ride and made sure I had what I needed to follow my dreams. We talk about training, the horses, and shows all the time. He never misses a show.

Second, you need trainers that not only provide a foundation, but are able to get you to see beyond your limits and help you get there.

Third, you and your horse have to be one with each other. If you are nervous and unsure, your horse can sense it, and they will react to your feelings.

Finally, practice, practice, practice!

Was there any particular person you met while there that really inspired you or that you became instant friends with?

Someone who has really inspired me is one of my trainers, Amber Clark. She has taught me to never give up, and hard work really does pay off. I used to want to go last into the show ring. Amber has given me the confidence to go first. I am a better person and rider because of Amber and Seth. They put the horses and riders above everything else. Just as we work hard at the show, the whole team goes out to eat after the show to support one another. I love my trainers and everyone I train with. They aren’t just my barn friends, but part of my family.

What opportunities do you now have as a champion of the 2013 All American Quarter Horse Congress?

Good question. I’m still on cloud nine at the moment. I have had hundreds of emails and messages from trainers and riders I have never spoken to.

What are your future plans regarding a career? Do they include horses?

I will definitely have horses in my life and be involved in the AQHA world. Training or breeding has been on my list for years. There are so many options within the equine world as far as businesses and services.


Other comments from Mallory:

Seth Clark always keeps me focused and smiling. He always has some inspiring, funny advice before I go into the show ring. At the Congress, before I went in, he said to me, “You may be good, they could be better…but they don’t have Millun Star Trek.” This is why I love my trainers.

I love all my horses. I talk to them and share snacks when I’m with them. They love to listen. Every little girl deserves the chance to love a 1,200 pound gentle giant. I also believe every horse deserves to be loved by a little girl.

Owning my own horse has taught me an unlimited amount of responsibility. I just hope every girl at some point in their life knows the feeling of having this best friend that is always there for you and you can be free with. Anybody outside the horse world will never understand the feeling you get when you walk away from your horse and you know that your horse keeps on watching you as you leave. Just never give up on your dreams.

Mallory’s favorite saying – Winners never quit and quitters never win.

Everyone here at Geauga News congratulates Mallory on her remarkable achievement. We have no doubt that your Yeas and Neighs will last a lifetime! Thank you for sharing your story!

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Author: Geauga News