The Joy Is In The Journey for Mallory Hogan & Clarissa Purisima

Mallory Hogan and Clarissa Purisima at the Woodside Preliminary Challenge. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

When a 13-year-old Mallory Hogan swung a leg over Clarissa Purisima for the first time, she couldn’t imagine where the keen red-headed Holsteiner mare would take her. From her first FEI event to a medaling at the North American Junior & Young Rider Championship, their road to success was paved with hours of practice in the partnership.

They left the start box for the first time together in 2014, quickly gaining confidence as they became more acquainted, and less than two years later they moved up to Preliminary.

Things started coming together really fast. She was a really quick learner, so I moved up to Preliminary my second season of having her and from there we ran a season of Prelim,” Mallory explained. “Not focusing on doing really well, just gaining mileage so that when I came out last season at the Prelim/1* level I could really focus on working up the leaderboard and really going out there to be competitive.”

Taking the time to get comfortable at the level paid off in spades. Their dressage scores were getting lower, they were getting quicker across country and finding themselves much more competitive in 2017 – finding that all the pieces were falling perfectly in place.

“It was a little overwhelming when I came out that season and all the work I had put in kind of started to pay off. I started going to shows and she was scoring a lot better on the flat and felt a lot more confident in the ring,” she explained.

“I think that was a lot of just going in show after show and just getting experience. When she was green,  she was kind of a horse to be a different ride every time out, so after a couple seasons I feel so comfortable with her and her with me. We’ve really formed a relationship that I could take to the ring and feel good about and feel good about stepping up to the next level and going in there to show off what we worked so hard for.”

Mallory Hogan and Clarissa Purisima. Photo by Shelby Allen.

With eyes on representing Area VI at NAJYRC, Mallory and Clarissa proved they had what it takes after winning the Woodside Preliminary Challenge start to finish in May. It was a direct path from there to Rebecca Farm, where they earned both team gold and individual bronze.

“It was such an amazing experience. I felt like that whole weekend came together so perfectly. From the girls I had with me on the Area VI team who were so supportive, the coaches, the parents, the sponsors, and then the Broussards for hosting the event and putting so much into it and making us feel so special. For my first NAJYRC experience it exceeded every expectation I had.”

Young Riders was much more than a big competition for Mallory, it was a chance to spotlight her and Clarissa’s special partnership.

“Before my first phase my trainer said, ‘take a deep breath and go enjoy the moment because all the work you’ve done to this moment, it took a long time. Go show off what you’ve got.’ That resonated with me because it’s so true – to put so much pressure on these big competitions,” she commented. “When I heard her say that I just let it sink in and just thought to myself wow this really is a big moment and I don’t want to get so caught up with myself. Its more of it being a showcase for the work we put in.”

Area VI, NAJYRC 1* gold medalists! Photo by Leslie Wylie.

So she did, she took the time to remember her experience and let it all sink in, and by the fall she once again was rewarded for her hard work with a spot on the USEF Emerging Athlete Eventing 18 Training List. This took her to Southern California to train with USEF Developing Rider coach Leslie Law.

“I went down there and it wasn’t like any normal clinic I’ve ever done. It was the most educational clinic experience I’ve ever had. Leslie was so incredibly knowledgeable. Going down there with the girls on the list, it was such a good group of riders, and being able to watch one another, even though it wasn’t our horse, just watching and seeing what he had to say all across the training board was so educational.”

It was really refreshing because Leslie just talked to us like we were all young professionals. He really focuses on the horse and really makes it about the training, and the training you put it will eventually give you the competitive results.”

For Clarissa, the Leslie asked Mallory to focus on straightness, and always circle back to the training pyramid during lessons. “We know each other so well and sometimes that can get in the way, so really just working on settling and letting her find me. I think in the end that will produce nicer tests and allow us to have a more relaxed look in the show ring,” Mallory smiled.

Last year was all about showcasing their partnership, and Mallory wants 2018 to build on that. They are aimed at the Intermediate at Twin Rivers in Paso Robles, California. While she has eyes on another Young Riders appearance this summer, the ultimate goal is to continue to gain confidence and become competitive at the Intermediate/two-star level. For Mallory, the joy is in the journey.

“I definitely love this sport, love the training, love every aspect of riding enough to want to make this my career and my business. I’m also lucky to have a sister (Madison) who is just a as devoted. We’ve always dreamed of having a business together. Looking into the future Id love to keep riding and keep expanding my horizons.”

“Looking past graduating high school, I’d love to bring her east and become a working student and really just focus on gaining all the knowledge I can to understand what it takes to become a professional rider and run a business in the sport.”