|Newcomer on Quarter Horse Circuit Quickly Makes Her Mark|
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Seventeen year-old Michelle McDowell of Wayland, Michigan is relatively new to the AQHA show circuit, but she hasn't missed a beat. At the MQHA Easter Eggstravaganza a few weeks ago, McDowell and her new horse, MillionDollarDetails (Paris) earned 52.5 points combined in several classes including: Novice Youth Hunter Under Saddle, Novice Youth Showmanship, Novice Youth Equitation, Novice Youth Horsemanship, Youth Performance Mares, Youth Hunter Under Saddle, and Senior Hunter Under Saddle.
"It was really a thrill to win the Senior Hunter Saddle on Saturday night! We also unofficially pointed out in Novice Youth Hunter Under Saddle and unofficially finished our Youth Hunter Under Saddle ROM," Michelle proudly told GoHorseShow.
MillionDollarDetails is no stranger to the winner's circle. This talented mare is by Last Detail and out of Nightscapes (TB). Her most recent accomplishment was being a Finalist in Senior Hunter Under Saddle ridden by Kristen Massaro at the 2011 AQHA World Show. The bay mare also won the Tom Powers Open Hunter Under Saddle Maturity in 2006, and the Summerama in Two Year-Old Hunter Under Saddle in 2003.
"Paris is a very affectionate horse and is a very quick learner, placing in the top of most classes after only a few months working patterns," Michelle says, who started riding her first pony when she was three years-old and 4-H when she was nine. "Horse showing appeals to my competitive nature which drives me to build a stronger relationship with my horse."
McDowell adds, "As far the horse industry, as relative newcomers to quarter horse showing, we have found people to be generally welcoming and helpful. One reason I joined the MQHYA Board was to be able to meet new people, and, of course, to help when I can."
This talented rider is under the guidance of Heather Brower and says one of the major challenges she has showing horses is trying to show on a budget.
"We trailer in for several lessons a month, and Heather gives me a lesson plan to follow which I work diligently on at home. I would love to show at as many shows as possible but we have to pick and choose shows that our budget will allow," McDowell says.
Her biggest equine accomplishments to date are with her first show horse, Squeek Class Capri (Capri), where McDowell won the Showmanship at the 2011 Buckskin Congress and went on to win the Reserve All-Around Championship 14-18. Her favorite horse show memory was her first win at a quarter horse show in Berrien Springs in Showmanship with Capri and her recent first place win in Senior Hunter Under Saddle with Paris at the tough Easter Show.
Michelle showed at her first three quarter horse shows in 2011 with Capri. "She had done so well at the 4-H level and open show level that we tried Quarter Horse shows, but it became evident that, although we love Capri dearly and still own her, she was not talented enough to be competitive at the quarter horse level," McDowell explains. "So my parents decided we should hold off showing and save for another horse. With help from Stephanie Lubbers, a Quarter Horse breeder in Ohio, we were able to purchase Paris from Kristen Massaro. Kristen wanted her to be sold to a youth who would love her and let her continue her winning ways in the show pen. Our family is deeply grateful for the opportunity to own Paris."
This National Honor Society member and viola player maintains a 4.0 grade point average and also rides on the high school equestrian team. Michelle also shows dogs which runs in the family since her mother is a professional dog handler.
Her immediate goal is to continue to work with Paris on the all-around events and she hopes to be part of the MQHA NYATT team for 2012. Michelle also plans on competing at the AQHA Novice Championship Show in October.
"I am looking forward to a great year, and even greater memories," Michelle says. "Good luck to all of the competitors. We hope to see you at a show!"
Photo © Denise Pitcher and Crystal