March 30, 2011
, TCU Media Relations Student Assistant
FORT WORTH, Texas - TCU senior Jessica Hagen recently sat down with GoFrogs.com to discuss the mental challenges of equestrian and how her perspective on the national anthem has changed.
The No. 8 Horned Frogs wrapped up the regular season with a win over No. 4 Oklahoma State. The team will participate in the Varsity Equestrian National Championships beginning Thursday, April 14 in Waco, Texas.
What brought you to the sport?
My brother is actually the reason I started riding horses. I watched him take a few lessons and decided I wanted to ride, too. I was 11 when I started riding, which is much older than most people I know. A lot of my friends were on horseback as soon as or before they learned to walk. I'm just glad my brother wanted to take riding lessons because who knows where I'd be if he hadn't!
What is the biggest achievement of your career so far?
I had knee surgery in July after my sophomore year. I was still doing intensive therapy and did not know if I was ready for competition when our first tournament came around in September. Even though I was still recovering, I ended up winning my round and scoring a 94, which is the highest recorded score for TCU in the flat.
What are your goals for the season?
My personal goal for the season is to give 100 percent every time I enter the arena. I want to finish every ride knowing that I have ridden my best. Our team goal is always to win a National Championship. We have a great group of girls this year--many seniors and upperclassmen. I think we have a great chance of making it to the top in April.
How is Texas different from your home state of California?
People drive so slowly here! They actually go the speed limit in the fast lane. That's completely unheard of in California!
What do you miss about home?
I miss my brother when I go home. He is a plebe (freshman) at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. I am so proud of him, but it's really weird not having him at home when I come visit. We actually spent Thanksgiving in Annapolis this year because he didn't have enough time to come home for the holiday. Him being at the Naval Academy has changed my entire outlook on life. I value every second I get to spend with him. I can't get through the Star Spangled Banner without tearing up because it means so much more now that my brother is serving our great country. I have a formal picture of my brother in his formal dress uniform on my mantle and I thank God for him every single day.
How have you improved from your freshman year?
This is a really funny question. I don't think my riding has changed much, but I definitely feel prepared for anything. Mentally, riding on a team in college is one of the most challenging things I have ever done. I was a basketball player in high school and I was never as stressed then as I have been doing this sport. We have had to ride in the extreme heat, the rain and the cold, on horses that are a little crazy, too big or too small for us, and we have had to do it well. With four years of this under my belt, I am definitely so much more comfortable now on horses that I do not know than I was as a freshman.
What are your plans post-graduation?
I plan on attending graduate school upon earning my degree at TCU. I would like to get a Master of Arts in american studies, museum studies or a public history program. I interned at the Smithsonian Institution last summer and had a blast. I hope to work in the museum industry as a curator or in collections.