Jul 28, 2017

The Road to NAJYRC: A Weekend to Remember

Mallory and Clarissa won individual bronze and team gold at the FEI North American Junior/Young Rider Championships. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

Mallory Hogan and her 10-year-old Holsteiner mare, Clarissa Purisima aka "Clarissa," traveled to Rebecca Farm in Kalispell, Mont. to represent Area VI in the Adequan/FEI North American Junior/Young Rider Championships. The pair earned individual bronze and team gold medals. Mallory has been sharing her journey to compete in NAJYRC.

A good phrase to sum up my entire experience at Young Riders would probably be, "It takes a village.” Now that I am home with a happy and healthy horse and looking back on the weekend, I can honestly say that the whole weekend was a surreal, unforgettable experience that I will hold close to my heart forever.

Making the journey to Rebecca Farm in Montana from where we live in Northern California takes two full days of driving across five states with an overnight layover in Oregon. So, when we finally arrived at Rebecca Farm on the Sunday before the start of competition, I was relieved to have a healthy and happy horse who had traveled well the whole trip.

Clarissa has come to like the big show atmospheres more and more so she really settled in nicely to the show grounds and I had some really nice rides on her in the days before the competition began. On dressage day, Clarissa went in the put down a very respectable test for a score of 51.0 to put us inside the top 15 after the first phase of competition. I was happy that she went in and focused on her job and stayed on task through the whole test.

USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

On cross-country day, I had a horse that was fitter and more excited than I had ever had before. She was fast and strong in warm-up but I was counting on her settling down once we got on course. She did eventually settle down to the task at hand, but she was still stronger than she's ever been on course and it took us a little longer to find our rhythm. However, she was just as bold and brave as ever and we came home clean and inside the time to move up to eighth place heading into show jumping the next day.

USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

I was happy to feel that Clarissa had plenty of jump left in her in our warm-up for show jumping on Sunday. I felt like having competed in the Preliminary Challenge at The Event at Woodside just two months prior prepared both me and Clarissa for the pressure, nerves, and atmosphere that the show jumping ring at Rebecca Farm provided. It was a truly magical feeling to cross the finish line with all poles still in their cups to finish the weekend on our dressage score.

USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

The Area VI team went into show jumping in third place, and I thought that was how the team had finished. I didn’t believe it was real at first when Don Trotter told us the team had moved up into first place, but then everyone started congratulating us and we could hear the announcer and I realized that Area VI really had won team gold! Then they announced that Clarissa and I were the individual bronze medalists, and my teammates, my trainer, and my family were all congratulating me. It was such an amazing moment that I’ll always remember.

I feel so blessed every time I get to ride Clarissa. She has such a passion for her job and that gives me confidence as a rider and she's the reason we have these incredible opportunities. Clarissa is the definition of my heart horse!

USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

This year we had such a strong group of people who dedicated so much time and effort to making this experience one to remember. None of this would have been possible without the help of my trainer Andrea Pfeiffer, my parents, my sister, the coaches, sponsors, coordinators, and everyone else who played a part in this journey. The Broussards also took on the role of hosting the Championships and made each and every one of us feel so special and welcome. Everything ran smoothly because our coach, Bec Braitling, and Chef d’Equipe, Lauren Billys, dedicated 110 percent to all of us while also competing themselves. We were also so fortunate to have my sister, Maddie Hogan, in the barn as head groom to make sure we all had what we needed and were on track. Like I said, it takes a village, and we truly had an amazing village.

To anyone who is looking at Young Riders as a goal, I would say that it is more than worth it to go. I've made a family with so many of the Area VI girls because of this experience and I was so proud of all of them at the end of the weekend. It was bittersweet to say goodbye to all of them, and we are all looking forward to the next West Coast event for a reunion. Thank you to everyone for making this a weekend that I will never forget and forever reminisce on.

Go Area VI!

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