In The Arena with Lauren Hough

For Lauren Hough, milestones in the show ring have often come first. She was riding before she could walk under the tutelage of her father, Charles "Champ" Hough, a Bronze Medalist in the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games, and her mother, Linda Hough, who ran a top hunter and jumper show stable for over 30 years. Before Lauren earned her driver's license she was competing, and at age 15, she was the Pacific Coast Horseman's Association Rookie of the Year. This was only the beginning.

In 2000, at the age of 23, Lauren competed at the Sydney Olympics, placing 6th overall with Clasiko. Lauren says that her experience at the Games "really gave me the confidence to know that I belonged and Clasiko went on to win many grand prix classes all over the world, so he has a special place in my heart." She then competed as a member of the 2003 Gold medal-winning Pan American Games team representing the United States. Demonstrating her tenacity, Lauren rode in the selection trials despite having a broken collarbone.

Lauren and her mount, Quick Study, have had tremendous success together in recent years. They were on the winning 2009 Nations Cup team at CSIO Rome, the 2010 Global Champions Tour of Germany Grand Prix in Hamburg, and the winning all-female U.S. team in Rotterdam CHIO for the Meydan FEI Nations Cup. They were also members of the 2010 U.S. Show Jumping team at the World Equestrian Games

In 2011, the pair continued to triumph, winning the $31,000 WEF Challenge Cup and the $150,000 Wellington Equestrian Realty Grand Prix, as well as the Longines International Grand Prix of Ireland and the Saint-Lo Grand Prix in France.

In 2012, Lauren and her horses again spent the winter showing at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). Lauren started the season strong, earning the Leading Lady Rider Award the first week she competed. Lauren and Quick Study were members of the Nations Cup Team and finished the circuit with a 3rd place finish in the FTI Consulting $500,000 CSI5* Grand Prix Finale.

By the summer of 2012, Lauren's mount Ohlala became the young horse to beat! The pair won the Sparkassen-Youngster Cup at prestigious Aachen, Germany. Back in the U.S., their success continued with wins at the $32,000 International Open Jumper 1.5 Class at the Washington International Horse Show, the $50,000 Chartis Insurance Company International Jumper Speed Class at the Alltech National Horse Show, the $32,000 International Jumper Class at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and the $33,000 Holiday & Horses Opener Grand Prix.

After a short break in early 2013, Ohlala and Lauren are back in winning form. In week nine of the 2013 FTI WEF the pair won the $33,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Speed Class, and in week eleven earned further points on the Longines FEI world ranking list, winning the $33,000 Spy Cost Farm 1.45m Speed Class. The success continued with Ohlala winning the $33,000 G&C Farm 1.45 Speed Class again in week twelve and with Quick Study placing seventh for the FTI $500,000 CSI5* Grand Prix Finale and fifth in the American Invitational a week later.

So what does it take to reach this top level and continue to compete year after year? Lauren says that the support of her team — coaches, Vita Flex as her sponsor, owners, assistants, grooms, veterinarians, farriers and all those working hard inside and outside the ring — is "a huge key to long term success in this sport."

Now that the 2013 show season is in full swing, Lauren will travel abroad to show her horses in Europe. In a recent conversation with Vita Flex Lauren reported "traveling has sort of become second nature" to her and her horses, and that "in providing premium horse supplements to help care for these hard-working horses, Vita Flex is an essential part of my team and definitely an important factor in helping us cross that fine line and win."

Lauren explained, "VitaFlex has been a fantastic company that I have worked with for some time now and they have a wide range of products that are suited to different animals — not every animal is the same. I have been really pleased with our relationship and how I can pinpoint different products to different horses."

When Lauren isn’t traveling the world competing, she calls Wellington, Florida her home. During downtime, she enjoys spending time with family and friends. A vegetarian, she enjoys getting creative in the kitchen when entertaining. She also loves to read, exercise at the gym, and hang out with her dog, April, but at the end of the day Lauren's life still revolves around horses, as she says, "I really love what I do, so a lot of the time I don’t consider it work."

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