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It Takes a Village: Area VI Chef d’Equipe Kristin Hogan Key to the NAYC “Ground Crew”

by Glenye Cain Oakford | Jul 26, 2019, 12:00 PM EST

Kristin Hogan (far right) with Area VI Young Rider team coach Rebecca Braitling (far left) in 2018 with team members.
Photo: Courtesy of Kristin Hogan

In 2017, when her daughter Mallory was preparing for the Adequan® FEI North American Youth Championships presented by Gotham North, Kristin Hogan (Belvedere, Calif.) approached the Area VI young rider coordinator and volunteered to help with the team.

 “Up until then, I’d volunteered at pancake breakfasts and done things on the sidelines like that,” Hogan explained. But this time, she ended up helping to organize a prep camp for the juniors and young riders headed to the 2017 NAYC at Rebecca Farm, and then she accompanied the team to Rebecca Farm for the championships.

“I just kind of flew by the seat of my pants, but I learned a lot and it all worked out,” she recalled. “I thought I was just helping out at camp, and I thought after camp that would be it. And then I found myself out in Montana driving around in a golf cart trying to figure things out as I went along.”

Hogan’s first NAYC turned out to be a remarkably good one: Area VI won NAYC eventing’s team gold after Mallory, riding Clarissa Purisima, finished on her dressage score of 51.0, laying down the team’s best score and securing an individual bronze.

After the team returned to California, the Area VI chair asked Hogan if she would stay on as the Young Rider coordinator. “I was on my way home, and I think I was still on that high—I heard the word ‘Yes,’ escape from my mouth! And here we are two years later. But, all kidding aside, my experience going to championships these last three years has been working with such an incredible group of kids and their horses and the coaches, and the parents have been wonderful. I’ve just had such a great time. Even though this year I don’t have a child participating, I still look forward to every July. It’s fun to see a new crop of riders coming along, and I’m honored to be able to share the journey with them.”

In the three years since she first attended the NAYC, Hogan has taken on more duties and has become a crucial contributor to the eventing discipline. This year at Rebecca Farm she’s serving as the Area VI chef d’equipe and coordinator as well as the National Young Rider Coordinator, a role she recently took on after longtime volunteer Diane Snow stepped down. She’s also served as support person for her daughters, eventing athletes Mallory, now 18 and in US Equestrian’s Eventing 25 program, and Madison Hogan, now 24. Both Mallory and Maddie got their start with Andrea Pfeiffer in California and have been working students with Allison Springer; both also now train with Lillian Heard in Pennsylvania.

“I’ve never even sat on a horse!” Kristin Hogan said recently. “But I’ve done everything else. I can take a horse’s temperature, I can do just about everything on the ground. But I let that be my daughters’ passion and what they do. I love being a support person. My daughters took a leadership role in their own passion and their own sport. I was part of the ground crew, and I was content to be that person.”

Both daughters trained with Andrea Pfeiffer of Chocolate Horse Farm in Petaluma, Calif.

Mallory: Eventing 25 program

Madison: recently graduated from Bryn Mawr with a degree in chemistry; now works in the research and development department of a global oil company in Pennsylvania. Before college, took a gap year to be a working student for Allison Springer. Competing XL Ruby at preliminary level.

Both Madison and Mallory train with Lillian Heard at Boyd Martin’s Windurra in Pennsylvania. We caught up with mom Kristin before she headed off to Rebecca Farm for the 2019 NAYC eventing with a new group of Area VI riders.

At the first NAYC you attended, in 2017, your daughter Mallory’s team, Area VI, won gold. What was that experience like for you?

“It was an amazing time. My daughter was the last to ride on the team, and I remember standing in the warm-up, where she came back after her stadium round. I was standing next to Don Trotter, and when Mallory came back from her round, he comes over to Mallory and says, ‘Thank you! Thank you! You did it!’ We had gone from fifth or sixth position and we ended up winning the gold medal after stadium jumping. It was so cool, because it was this great group of girls. We didn’t even know whether we were going to make it there, and we got ourselves to Montana, and we had this amazing outcome. That was really, really special.”

 

What do you think the value of the NAYC is to not just the kids, but also their families?

“For the families, when you have an athlete riding at this level, it’s a family lifestyle. That’s what we’ve always found. As a rider, you’re not just out there on your own. The amount of commitment from the family, both financial and in traveling and getting around, is huge. I see these families do it, and they’re there supporting the dream and passion of their rider. The NAYC is, for many, the culmination of a lot of years of hard work and effort and support, and to be able to give their child the opportunity to be in that arena at that level is just a big thing, both for the rider and the family. They go into that journey together, and it’s a huge opportunity for them.”

 

The team experience is a crucial and important part of the NAYC. How do you think it benefits the competitors?

“My response really comes from seeing my own daughter, Mallory. Mallory’s in the Eventing 25 program, and she’s been on a team at NAYC for two years; she was on a gold medal team and on a bronze medal team. This year she was on Leslie Law’s Futures 25 team at Bromont. So I really saw how, yes, you’re out there on your own and it’s you and your horse, but your attitude and the camaraderie is all about the team. You’re riding so that you don’t let those people down. You all have a job to do. … You put your own individual experiences aside and you do what’s best for the team.

“There’s no I in team, and you’re going out there for a greater reason and a greater end. When you stand up there on that podium with your teammates, you realize that every single person on that podium contributed to where you got. It’s so fun to see the kids experience that. And that’s something they take forward into their lives, beyond horses.

“The NAYC is really the first opportunity for kids in North America to have this team experience.”

 

When the NAYC eventing is over for the year, as the National Young Rider Program Coordinator and Area VI chef d’equipe and coordinator, what do you do next?

“The next year’s NAYC process starts almost immediately after your get back from the current year’s NAYC. You start putting fundraising in place, and come January you’re getting your applications in, so these wonderful people who step up to be coordinators around the various USEA areas do so in their spare time, year-round. NAYC is really the culmination of a year’s worth of work, getting things organized, and educating the kids and their families about the process. It’s not something you work on just for a couple of months; it’s a year-round machine. People come back each year to do it because of the kids, the riders. The kids give so much, and you get these kids who want it so much. For a lot of them, NAYC is a dream of theirs, and we want to keep cultivating that so that we preserve this very special corner of the sport. They put in a lot of hard work and dedications, and it’s a privilege to be part of their journey. I see what my kids got out of it—the lessons they’ve taken from it and what they’ve brought into their lives as they’ve gone beyond Young Riders—and I think it’s such a valuable experience for them.”