By: Susan Stafford-Pooley
While it is not uncommon for sons and daughters of top riders to be competing against their parents in the show jumping ring – think Ian, Jonathon and Amy Millar, or the Whitaker dynasty in the UK – it is unusual for them to be representing different countries. Mario Deslauriers and his 20-year-old daughter Lucy are doing just that.
Lucy, who lives in New York and is competing for the United States, is riding Hester, her 14-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding, at these Pan Am Games. She is no stranger to Nations Cups, having been on the bronze medal team in Langley, BC, this summer and the US Nations Cup Final squad in 2018. When asked about the rapport (or rivalry) she and her dad share at competition, she laughed. “I get asked that a lot! We have a lot of fun with it. Obviously, in the competition ring we’re on different teams, but I think at the end of the day we’re on the same team all the time. We get two chances here!”
Mario, a World Cup Final winner and Olympian who also lives in New York and is piloting Amsterdam 27 in Lima, usually handles her training. “He’s one of my main coaches, so I’m really lucky to have him experiencing all this with me,” Lucy said of her Pan Am experience. “He gets to ride and tells me what he feels and responds to what he sees me do, so it’s fun that we can bounce ideas off of each other. I feel lucky that he’s here with me.”
“It’s interesting,” Mario agreed of the family dynamic. “We’ve competed [against each other] a long time now. She’s been doing this height for three or four years already. So we compete at every show against each other. But this is a bit different; this is a championship. It’s her first championship and a lot more pressure and you’re with your team all the time. She’s got a good supporting cast and I’m trying not to interfere. You have to handle every situation a bit differently and I’m very proud of her.”
That pride was evident following the USA’s bronze medal performance. “Her first time at a Games; I’ve been here a couple of times and I’ve never won a medal, so for her that’s so exciting and she rode great in the second round,” he said. Lucy in fact had the only clear trip for the US in the second round.
At this competition, because of the scheduling, McLain Ward and Beezie Madden have stepped in to help with the warmups. “The whole team helps here; sometimes it’s difficult at Nations Cups because we go back-to-back,” explained Mario, “She knows how to get herself ready, but it’s good to have somebody telling her what to do at the gate – its always great to have that type of support.”
Lucy, who has a twin brother, Jack, added, “On the good days we celebrate together, and on the bad days we talk about everything we can do better to prepare for the next round.”