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Kristin Titov of Hobby Horse Clothing Battles Cancer with Grace & Gratitude

Kristin Titov of Corona Del Mar, California, is a force to be reckoned with, both in the show pen and the business world. In competition, Titov was the Level 2 Reserve World Champion in Amateur Reining at the 2019 AQHA World Championship Show and has an impressive list of accomplishments in National Reining Horse Association and National Reining Breeders Classic events.

Titov adores her horse, AQHA/APHA reining stallion Gunsup In Tinseltown, who she affectionately calls Pickles. She is also the CEO of Hobby Horse Clothing Company Inc. and co-founder of her own company, Kimstin Tack, with her best friend and barn buddy, Kim Friedman.

GoHorseShow connected with Titov to talk about her recent health concerns. When asked whether she was willing to share, she was matter of fact, explaining that she is open about her story, hoping she can help someone by talking about it. Kristin Titov is bubbly, bright, and, above all, brave. 

Q – What events led up to your diagnosis, and how did you discover what you were dealing with was cancer?

A – I’m competitive, and I had been doing sprints with my best friend and was sore. I was doing self-massage and noticed a lump in my neck. I thought it was a muscle out of place, so I went to a friend who helps me with muscle treatments and had him look at it.  He sent me to the doctor right away. I spent a couple of months doing tests and getting different insurance approvals. The core biopsy was inconclusive, so doctors removed the enlarged lymph nodes. I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkins Lymphoma on October 2nd, my birthday.

Q – What did you do after your diagnosis?

A – At the end of October, I had a photo shoot scheduled in Arizona for Hobby Horse, so I went straight into that.  To save money, I hired one fewer model, and I modeled for the shoot. I asked the photographer, Kirstie Marie, to take some pictures to look back on when I looked and felt like me. I call it my “Super Hero Shoot” because I wanted pictures of when I felt powerful. I knew I would be going through a time where I might not be feeling so powerful.

I was lucky to have a team and have my horse there in the photos with me.  I had an album made of those pictures, and I look back at it.  Then, from that shoot, the person who helped with my hair and makeup, we got together and decided what to do. We chopped off my hair so it wouldn’t be so dramatic when I started chemo.

Q – Where are you now in your treatment?

A – Right now, I’m starting my 4th round of chemo. A round is two treatments, so this is my seventh treatment.

Q – What have been the most challenging parts for you?

A – My body takes me on its rollercoaster, and it’s hard to plan.  The treatments are terrible. The side-effects are so horrifying. I always have the horse show calendar in the back of my mind, and I want to get treatment behind me and go to NRBC.

Q – Have you been able to ride and spend time with your horse during treatment?

A – Well, my horse is in Arizona, and I’m in California, so I have to go when my husband can drive me. I’ve been able to see my horse and spend time at the ranch twice. My trainer makes sure Pickles is taken care of and ready for me. I got to see him recently and ride him two times while I was there. That lifted my spirits after delaying my last chemo treatment because my white count was low. Everything feels so safe at the ranch, with being outside because I have to be so careful. Even the flu could be devastating for my health.

Q – What has helped you during this time?

A – I’m thankful for the support of my team at Hobby Horse. Holly is the Director of Operations and has stepped in and stepped up, and I appreciate it. My faith and relationship with the Lord have been a significant factor in getting through this and feeling as joyful as I am, even when I shouldn’t be optimistic.  I would ask for prayer.  I am taking this one day at a time and enjoying moments where I can find joy and just getting through the other moments.  Looking ahead, but not too far ahead.

About the Author – Camille Thompson is an attorney, writer, and AQHA competitor living in Arkansas.  She earned her J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley and owns AQHA World Champion western pleasure mare, Britney Pine.  Camille and her son Colton currently compete under the guidance of Margaux Tucker and GauxPro Performance Horses.