MILL SPRING, N.C. — The COVID-19 pandemic moved the Washington International Horse Show out of the D.C. metro area this year, but that didn’t stop dozens of championship hopefuls from making the trip to the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, North Carolina. Among them was 18-year-old Riley Hogan.
“I think I did my first horse show when I was three years old," the Virginia native said. "Both my parents rode, my grandparents, pretty much my whole family, so I was born into it."
For Hogan, the competition is what she's always been building towards.
“It’s a lot of excitement especially when you’re at the horse shows like these," she said. "These are the shows we worked all year for."
Riding is the center of Hogan's world and it was actually made a little easier by the COVID-19 pandemic. Her school, Liberty High School in Bealeton, went virtual her senior year so she was able to continue training for shows while taking classes -- sometimes, at the same time.
“Sometimes I was on the horse during a zoom call!" she laughed. "But, I had all my work done, I mean I graduated with all A's."
With her eye on the prize, Hogan is competing in the Children’s Jumper Championship and the W.I.H.S. Equitation Finals, which judges the rider’s ability, not the skill of the horse.
“It’s how you work together, it’s your relationship with the horse," Hogan said. "There’s a lot of factors that go into it sometimes can be the hard thing. It has to be your day. It has to be the horse’s day. It really comes down to having luck on the day."
Luck may help her this weekend, but it’s her talent that’s earned her a spot on Oklahoma State University’s equestrian team, beginning in January.
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