Trainer Spotlight: Mallory Distler
Written by Jane Meggitt on June 18, 2019
In the spring of 2014, a new lesson, boarding and sales facility, Bay Point Equestrian Center, LLC, opened on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The farm belongs to Jessica Snyder, who in planning her facility offered a job to her Purdue University roommate, Mallory Distler. Fast forward five years later, and Distler, 32, is not only the trainer at Bay Point but making a name for herself in the eventing world.
Expanding the Toolbox
Distler says she finds it extremely important as an instructor and competitor to continue lessoning to keep learning and expanding the toolbox. She rides with international three-day event riders Tim Bourke, Berryville, VA, and Danny Warrington, Fair Hill, MD, and credits them with really pushing her in both riding and getting her where she wants to be.
Bourke has really believed in Distler from the time they met, and has helped her not only find fantastic horses but allowed her to find her confidence over bigger fences, she says. Warrington complements Bourke by helping Distler train her horses to be very broke. Both horses she is currently competing are big, strong and a bit opinionated at times, and she says Danny has really helped her to think outside the box in helping her train them.
The Pony Club Influence
Distler joined Pony Club at age 8, graduating with a C2, and credits the experience with contributing a great deal to her horse knowledge. She encourages her students, including adults, to join Pony Club, and Bay Point recently started its own Pony Club. “I find Pony Club really prepares you for life with horses,” she says. Distler came from a barn with a Pony Club in an area with a lot of such clubs. After moving to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, she saw a hole in the need for that sort of education, and hopes Bay Point’s new club helps change that.
Thoroughbred vs. Warmbloods
Distler competes both thoroughbreds and warmbloods, and thinks the former are very competitive in the sport if they have the right brain. “Thoroughbreds really bring the heart, the gallop and the endurance to the sport. They are easier to get fit and their tank is bigger when they are on cross-country,” she says. Distler notes the warmbloods long history of jumping-specific breeding, and their more dramatic way of moving helps in the dressage ring. Now, warmblood breeders are using more thoroughbred blood to get that gallop and endurance, and Distler says it seems warmbloods are changing as people are wanting the movement, jump and endurance. “Sitting on a horse that was bred to jump is a really good feeling,” she says.
Philosophy of Horsemanship
When asked about her philosophy of horsemanship, Distler replies, “Listen to your horse –and yourself – think outside the box and treat each horse differently.” She points out that while there is a “program” to train a horse, no one should think each horse will respond the same way, need the same thing or will be at the same spot in their lives because they are a certain age.“Do not be afraid to reach out for help. In the last year I really feel like I have come into my own in the way I do things,” she says. Part of that is stopping trying to be someone else, listening to herself, and realizing what kind of rider, trainer and instructor she is. “I still have so much to learn but my amazing coaches have really helped me figure this out and I see a difference in my horses and students,” according to Distler.
When she’s looking for a horse, Distler focuses on an animal with a brain. “They have to be trainable, and I don’t care if it is for a horse for me, a student or for sale, but they have to allow you to ride them,” she says.
While Distler had a rough start to the 2019 season, she feels things are back on track and her horses are going well. This year’s goal is getting to the AECs with Quality Start, aka “Harvey,” and Quality Addiction, or “Opie.” “Harvey is already qualified for Preliminary and Opie has his win at Novice, but I need to complete one or two more to get my qualification on him,” she says. “I would like to move Harvey up to Intermediate this fall and Opie up to training but really that is up to them and when they feel ready. I also want to keep taking as many lessons as I can so that not only my own riding improves but I can bring more things back to my students at Bay Point.”
Distler credits her sponsors and people she has behind her with her success. “First and foremost, Jessica Snyder at Bay Point – without her none of this would be possible, I am so lucky to call her my friend and to be able to train and teach at her amazing facility. Ayres Creek Equine LLC – thank you for being the most amazing owners, friends and part of my support team. It is a wild ride with the boys and I strive every day to make myself the best I can be to make you guys proud. Prestige Italy, Top Notch Tack – thank you for the support over the last couple years – I am excited to be a part of the team,” says Distler.