Elizabeth Hendrix grew up in Massachusetts before moving to New York to spend more than two years training with Lendon Gray as a working student. When she left New York, she headed West and spent time working at barns in California and the Northwest before settling in the San Francisco area. Along her career journey, she has trained with a number of trainers including Conrad Schumacher and Steffen Peters. She said that who she works with varies by horse. "I try to find a trainer who fits the horse," Hendrix said.
Mulchahey said Hendrix was the perfect fit for Donna. "I had begun to see the potential that was untapped in Donna. There was something really special in her and others had also told me that if we could get the horse to the right person for the right amount of time, she could be a really interesting FEI horse. So, when I chose Elizabeth, I approached it with the idea of giving it six months to see if she could unlock the things that we thought were in there. If not, then Donna would just come back to me and be my horse and I'd have fun with her," she said. Hendrix and Donna clicked and the road to this year's Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Festival of Champions began.
"Liz and the horse have a really, really special relationship. She has really been able to reach the horse in a way that no one else could. Donna has an extraordinary amount of confidence in Liz. If Liz jumped off a cliff, this horse would jump with it," Mulchahey said. This past winter, she asked George Williams to come out and look at the pair and give his assessment. He encouraged them to try for this year's Intermediaire National Championships. It was the right advice. The pair easily earned an invitation to this year's championships.
For Hendrix, being handed the ride on Donna was like a dream come true. "She is the light of my entire day. She's a wonderful creature and I love every day I get to ride her. And Donna and I are similar in personality. We both try hard and are perfectionists," she said. "We're both willing to work really hard for each other so I think it's the partnership between us that makes both of us look good. Whenever I ask her to do something different or in a better way, she says 'okay' and goes on."
Hendrix said she can't express enough her appreciation to Mulchahey. "As a rider, we need owners and Melissa is a super owner." Mulchahey is such a great sponsor that she recently purchased a young horse to be Hendrix's next ride – a three-year-old Westfalen gelding named Sir Rocco (Bedo x Florestan).
Melissa Mulchahey Looks Forward to a Long Bright Future with Donna Novella