Each issue, MSEDA will highlight a member who is active in the organization to give other members a peek into their horse-loving lives. Interested in being featured? Email Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Sarah E. Coleman
A horse lover since she was little, Kristen Brennan finally has her horses in her backyard: Her two Thoroughbreds, Frankie and Marcus, are in good company at Fall Line Farm, with three dogs, a kitten, chickens, ducks and barn cats rounding out the menagerie. Between working full-time and having a brand-new baby, it would be easy to lose focus on riding, but Kristen is not one to let the time get away from her. She’s still focused on competing and enjoying her horses as she learns to juggle her new (full!) schedule.
Photo by Taylor Pence
MSEDA: Where are you from?
Kristen Brennan: Belle Mead, New Jersey
MSEDA: What brought you here?
KB: I moved here from Washington state right after graduate school for a job.
MSEDA: When did you begin riding?
KB: My parents are not horsey and were really nervous about me riding, but I finally wore them down when I was about 11 years old and they signed me up for lessons.
MSEDA: Did others in your family ride or how did you get the horsey gene?
KB: Nope, I’m the only one. I’m pretty sure the horsey gene was a mutation.
MSEDA: Were your parents supportive of riding?
KB: They let me take lessons as much as they could afford it, which was once a week. They told me to grow up, go to school, get a job, and then I could own a horse. I did that, so they still fully support it to this day. My dad even wired all of the electric in our barn and for our arena and has been known to hold a horse once in a while.
MSEDA: Did you have to give up other things to ride (sports, proms, etc.)?
KB: No, because it was never a big part of my life growing up. My parents were very strict about it not becoming my only focus.
MSEDA: When did you get your first horse?
KB: When I finished school and could finally afford it--in my late 20s.
MSEDA: How did you get this horse?
KB: I bought him from a local hunter rider and judge.
MSEDA: When did you begin competing?
KB: I showed a few times when I was a kid, and then groomed and catch rode sale horses in college, but I didn’t show seriously until I moved here.
Photo by Xpress Foto
MSEDA: What horses do you own now?
KBL I own Moscato aka “Marcus,” a 1999 Thoroughbred gelding and Intuition aka “Frankie” a 2012 Thoroughbred gelding.
MSEDA: How did you get him them?
KB: Marcus came from the wonderful Nori Scheffel. I was left completely heartbroken with my first horse and was ready to stop riding. She came up to my trainer at the time and said “Do you know anyone who needs a horse? Because I’ve got one that needs a job.” I ended up leasing him for 7 years and he was purchased last year for me as a birthday gift by my in-laws so I could make it “official” after all that time.
Frankie we purchased from a local person after about 60 days of training.
MSEDA: What horses do you compete and what do you compete in?
KB: I had a baby in March, so this year I have been just focusing on competing Marcus as I learn how to juggle a career, an infant, a farm and riding. We did Beginner Novice coming back this spring and now are back at Novice. Frankie is doing Beginner Novice with a girl whom he adores.
MSEDA: How long have you been a MSEDA member?
KB: 4 years
MSEDA: How did you come to be an eventer?
KB: Marcus and I did the hunters until about 4 years ago, when I burned out and took a break. Some friends who evented came to visit for Rolex and told me they thought he would like eventing, and told me I should try it. So, I did. And my trainer, Julie Congleton, told me it was the slowest starter course she’s ever seen (I thought I was flying). I was terrified, but Marcus loved it, so we stuck with it and never looked back. I figure we’ll just have fun, and we never have to do the upper levels and I never have to give up my tailoreds or pearls #hunterhairforlife
MSEDA: What is your favorite event or horse show? Why?
KB: I love Midsouth Pony Club Horse Trial and Team Challenge. MPCHT because the courses are fun and the people are wonderful, and Team Challenge because of getting to compete as a team. Last year I had a blast volunteering in the vet box at TC!
MSEDA: Who is one person you would not have met without the horses?
KB: There are so many people, I can’t name one. Horses have brought so many wonderful people into my life.
MSEDA: What have the horses brought you that you are most thankful for?
KB: Those friends.
MSEDA: What are your horse's favorite treats?
KB: Peppermints and the occasional quesadilla from an innocent KHP bystander.
MSEDA: Do you have any good luck rituals? What are they?
KB: I do have a few. I always wear those above-mentioned pearls that my mom gave me. I also, as silly as it is, always whisper to Marcus before we leave the box “Please take care of me and I promise to do my part to take care of you.”
MSEDA: What do you do full time?
KB: I am a research project manager at Alltech, Inc., where I manage research and development programs.
MSEDA: How did you get into this job?
KB: I started with them as a post-doc out of graduate school and have been there ever since.
MSEDA: How long have you been with Alltech?
KB: 10 years next week.
MSEDA: What are your favorite riding accomplishments?
KB: Qualifying for both the AEC and Area 8 Championships last year and competing in the Area 8 Championships with Marcus.
MSEDA: What is your favorite memory with your horse(s)?
KB: I’ve had a lot of great memories, but the best was probably the first day we had them both at home. We worked so hard to buy our farm, and the dream of looking out our back door and seeing Marcus and Frankie finally became a reality.
MSEDA: What are your favorite equestrian brands?
KB: Charles Owen, Tailored Sportman, and anything that holds up to my horses trying to destroy it.
MSEDA: What are your horse's quirks?
KB: Marcus is very mouthy and nosey--his stall has what I call the “No Fly Zone” for about a 5-foot radius around it or he will grab anything within reach. He also HATES mums. Won’t go near them, spooks at them, snorts, spins.
Frankie likes to untie himself from the trailer at horse shows (mostly to wander around and look for snacks) and is super vocal in the barn. He also makes super grumpy faces but it’s all talk because he loves affection.
MSEDA: What is your goal this year?
KB: To finish the BN3DE at Classique, get back to being solid at Novice, and hopefully complete a Training CT this fall.
MSEDA: Who do you ride with?
KB: Julie Congleton (the BEST).
MSEDA: What is one piece of advice you would give someone, related to anything?
KB: When in doubt, #letgoandkick
Photo by Xpress Foto
MSEDA: What would be the first thing you would do if you won the lottery?
KB: Fill a swimming pool with dollar bills and swim in it like Scrooge McDuck. Then probably build an indoor arena at our farm.
MSEDA: What is your favorite book?
KB: All Creatures Great and Small, by James Herriot.
MSEDA: Do you have other hobbies? What are they?
KB: I’m a huge downhill skier, and my husband and I love to travel around the world.
MSEDA: What do you feel makes a horse person “successful?”
KB: I think this depends on the person, but mainly setting and meeting goals. I’m not out running a 4-star, but I feel pretty successful as a lower-level, working adult amateur. Also, hard work and humility. I have learned a lot about the latter during my transition to eventing.
MSEDA: Describe your horse in 10 words.
KB: Marcus: Big, furry alligator that hates mums.
Frankie: Oscar the Grouch crossed with a cuddle bunny.
MSEDA: What is your favorite memory?
KB: Not horse related, but the minute my son Thomas was born.
MSEDA: What other animals do you own?
KB: We have three dogs named Sammy, Luke and Yoda, a kitten named Squid, plus six chickens, two ducks and three barn cats.
MSEDA: Is there anything unusual about your horses now?
KB: Everything. They are both complete weirdos in their own ways.
MSEDA: Do you have active roles in horse-related organizations?
KB: I am currently the VP of the Masterson Equestrian Trust and on the education committee for MSEDA.