Hansen riding for love of the sport

Jan. 27, 2012

By Mae Margaret Davis, Auburn Media Relations

Most collegiate student-athletes have dreams of going pro in their chosen sports. They aspire to be on Monday Night Football telecasts or swimming for the gold at the Olympic Games.

But for one member of the Auburn equestrian team, turning pro isn’t on her list of things to do.

Senior Western rider Kristin Hansen has been riding horses for as long as she can remember. A native of Redding, Calif., she has grown up riding and also learning from her mother, Stephanie Boyes, who is a professional rider.

“I look up to her,” Hansen said. “She is my role model. She works so hard, and she’s taught me so much. I’m able to have help when my trainer isn’t available, and my mom knows just as much and is there to help me.”

Despite having formed a bond around the sport they love and share, Hansen says it has also created a unique relationship because at times they compete against one another. Creating boundaries and an understanding of respect has allowed Hansen to maintain a special closeness with Boyes despite the pressure they face when their sport creates strain on their relationship.

“When we’re in the same class and the same event, sometimes it’s hard being a mother-and-daughter relationship,” Hansen said. “But we separate it. When we go to shows, it’s not a mother-daughter relationship, we are professional. If it doesn’t work, then I don’t show. That’s how it’s always been.”

The struggle the two have faced at times over the years is part of the reason why Hansen doesn’t want to become a professional rider. Instead, she hopes to pursue her career while continuing to ride for the love of the sport, not for the career it could provide her with.

“Keeping my amateur status kind of means a lot to me because it’s like a separation from my family, and I can do my own thing,” Hansen said. “I really just want something where I can take time off and go do what I love to do and just stay happy. You have your whole life to work, and life is short, and you want to make the most of it, so I want to do what I want to do, as well as be successful.

“I just want to do my own thing with my own horse and not have to worry about any clients or things like that. Being in the horse world is like a completely different world, and I’ve seen how much stress and how hard it is for trainers to deal with clients and keeping everybody happy. It’s too personal for me to have somebody ruin that, and I really just want to keep it as my own thing. It just makes me happy, and it’s what I love to do.”

After graduating in May, Hansen says she hopes to return to California – this time, a little further south – to pursue a career in industrial organizational (IO) psychology.

“I kind of want to study employee motivation and research productivity and improve companies that way,” Hansen said. “I am looking in the San Diego area because that’s a little closer to (my trainer). I’m going to try to do that and compete heavily at the same time.”

Looking back over her time spent at Auburn, Hansen says she knows she’ll take little lessons with her to use in all walks of life.

“I think the most of what I’ve learned from here is learning how to be a leader,” Hansen said. “I noticed that as I’ve gone through the years here, people like the freshmen I have now, they look up to you, and they need your help, and they need your guidance. You’re kind of a role model for them, and you’re a role model for little kids growing up. You’re doing what people wish they could do.

“You learn how to represent yourself, and you learn how to talk to people and guide people. That’s been the biggest thing for me is that it makes me happy as a person and feel good knowing that people can come talk to me. I want to be that person that not only is competitive on the team and that helps my team, but also is there not just with the sport. You learn how to be both, not just focused on yourself.”

As she prepares to finish out the remainder of her final season and help her team compete for another national title, Hansen has no regrets about making the choice to go across the country for college, and says she knows Auburn will remain a special part of her life.

“Auburn is such a family that it made it so much easier to adapt to everything,” Hansen said. “Our team, we’re all so close, and I know that I have the best friends on this team. I know that when I leave here and I graduate, I’m going to be in contact with them all the time. I am so glad I came here.”