Rising Equestrian Star
Kara Hachigian Competes In Top Horse Shows Across The Country
By Rebecca Maitland
Houston has a rising star in the equestrian competition circuit, and she has already made incredible accomplishments considering her young age. Today, she is competing all over the country, attending school and school activities, and training for competitions, all of which keeps this 17-year-old up late and rising early.
About six years ago, Kara Hachigian took a few riding lessons over the summer — just enough for her passion for riding to grow. Then a few months later for her birthday, she received more riding lessons.
After she had been training for a time, her trainer suggested she compete, which was a natural progression as a rider. Hachigian’s focus was on competing in the American Saddlebred section.
The American Saddlebred is a horse breed from the United States, descended from riding-type horses bred at the time of the American Revolution. Developed into its modern type in Kentucky, it was once known as the “Kentucky Saddler” and used extensively as an officer’s mount in the American Civil War. In 1891, a breed registry was formed in the U.S. Throughout the 20th century, the breed’s popularity continued to grow worldwide. Since the formation of the U.S. registry, almost 250,000 American Saddlebreds have been registered, and they can now be found around the world, with separate breed registries established in Great Britain, Australia, continental Europe and southern Africa.
The horses average 60 to 64 inches in height at the highest point on their backs and are known for their sense of presence, style and strength as well as for their spirited, yet gentle, temperament. They may be of any color, including pinto patterns, which have been acknowledged in the breed since the late 1800s. They are considered a gaited breed, as some Saddlebreds are bred and trained to perform four-beat ambling gaits, one being a “slow gait,” which historically was one of three possible ambling patterns, and the much faster rack.
Over the summer, Hachigian and either her father or mother continue to travel from one show to another, while her other parent remains home to care for her younger brother, who happens to be allergic to horses.
“My parents are very supportive of my competitions and the whole process from getting the horses ready to driving to the different competitions. We travel to the Carolina region, Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois and other states,” Hachigian said.
Her first competition was in a Dallas horse show. At the time, she was part of the Academy level, which is for those just starting out and not required to have their own horse. Those at this level compete only in state or regional competitions.
Presently, she is in the junior classification for those 17 and under, and she owns three horses. She is also competing in top circuit shows all over the country and has qualified for the National and World Championships for the last three years. She recently won Reserve World Champion in the 14-17-year-old competition for Saddlebred horses.
The competitions are based on how well the horse shows, carries its head, picks up its feet and the speed it moves past the judges. For the complete package, Hachigian works on her posture and style.
Being the Best
“During the week, I cannot ride much because I am in school, and my horses are in Bellville, where my coach lives too. So I work out to be in the best shape. The horses are very powerful and spirited. To stay in control and have the best posture and style when I ride, I have to be in shape and have strength,” Hachigian said.
Hachigian also works with her trainer reviewing videos of her competitions to see how she can improve. “On the weekends, if I am not competing, my coach and I plan strategies, and things I can do to get better,” Hachigian said.
If she is competing on the weekends, she leaves on Friday and returns before school starts on Mondays.
She also participates in the school orchestra and often has after-school rehearsals and concerts outside of school. She also is a young philanthropist who in the past three years has raised over $80,000 by herself for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Moreover, as a junior in high school, she is also traveling to look at colleges.
“I am looking at colleges on the East Coast due to the concentration of equestrian competitions in that area. I want to stay involved in this, so I do not know if I will move back or if I will stay there. We will see what the future brings,” Hachigian said.
When it comes to college, Hachigian is considering a business degree but is not sure at the moment.
Because she turns 18 in September, Hachigian will be moving up to the Amateur level in December. She will be starting at the bottom of this classification, which hosts many adult riders.
“The next level is the professional group, which would be amazing to be part of,” she said. “Right now though, I am only focusing on this year, which takes a lot of planning and scheduling to be successful. I am trying not to look ahead too much so I will not be caught up in that. I stay focused on being my best now.”
Rising Equestrian Star