Self-Made: Years of Hard Work Pays Off with a First Grand Prix Win for Kyla Makhloghi and Hurry Up B

Photo courtesy of Kyla Makhloghi

BY LAURIE SCOTT

If Kyla Makhloghi had $8,000.00, in 2017, she wouldn’t have Hurry Up B or a Grand Prix win.

Riders often bemoan the fact that they will never be able to afford to become a top rider. Kyla Makhloghi is proof that it is possible to make it to the top with hard work, some serious perseverance and a little bit of luck. 

Makhloghi started riding at age 4, and by age 8 was working off lessons at the Putney, Vermont stable of Christina Major. “I cleaned stalls, groomed, and rode. Sometimes I would sleep in the barn’s tack room until my father could pick me up on his way home from work at night,” said Makhloghi. “I couldn’t afford to own a horse until I was an adult and finally working full time in the horse industry.”

Photo © Olivia Ferro at Rowfantina Photo

Makhloghi was a very good junior rider, but finances kept her showing close to home. She paid for her shows with money she earned working at the barn, qualifying for New England Equitation Championships on borrowed horses. She made the best of every ride. “I rode whatever I had at finals, even a dressage horse.” 

As an undergrad at Mt. Holyoke, she joined the equestrian team and was one of the top Intercollegiate riders. The fact that she never owned a horse meant that she was used to always riding different horses and it really paid off in college. Makhloghi led her team to the IHSA National Championship in 2006.  

Photo courtesy of Kyla Makhloghi

It was during a clinic at Mt. Holyoke that Makhloghi met Linda Langmeier, who helped the young rider secure a job at Woodridge Farm with Cookie DeSimone and Greg Prince. “I always knew I wanted to be a professional trainer. Working with horses was all I ever dreamed of,” said Makhloghi. “I spent 5 years working for Greg and Cookie and then worked for Linda Langmeier for another 5 years.”

After honing her skills with top professionals, Makhloghi went out on her own and started Rosemont Farm, LLC in East Windsor, Connecticut. She and her two trusted assistants, Olivia Grupposo and Ashley Davis, take clients and sale horses to shows all over the northeast for the summer and fall before heading to Wellington, Florida for the winter. 

Through her business, Makhloghi began a partnership with horse professional John Steegs who lives in Holland. He began to send Makhloghi horses to train for the US market and then sell. After having success selling a few horses, Makhloghi asked Steeghs to send her a young horse that she could keep for a while and bring along up through the ranks. He sent her Hurry Up B, also known as Scarlet, A 2012, 15.2 hand chestnut KWPN mare by Kojak out of Diva B. 

Photo © Olivia Ferro at Rowfantina Photo

“When Scarlet first arrived in the US, I went to the quarantine barn to ride her,” she said. “I have to admit that if I had $8,000 in the bank (the cost of shipping) I would have just put her right back on a plane to Holland. She wouldn’t walk around the outside of the ring, or even walk over a pole on the ground,” Makhloghi added with a laugh. “After a few weeks, she settled in and I decided that we could possibly work together.” 

Hurry Up B was started in the 6-year old jumper classes by Makhloghi, and the two were winning right away. In fact, she did so well in her classes that Makhloghi suspects that they might have actually made a profit on showing her that year. The pair finished the year as Reserve National Champions in the 6 year old jumper division.

The next year, 2019, Scarlet wasn’t quite as impressed with the jumps in the 7 year-old classes. She began to have a rail in some outings, and Makhloghi thought perhaps the mare was at the top of her scope. Greg Prince suggested that Scarlet might just be bored and that moving her up to the 1meter 40 might be worth a try. It turned out that he was right. 

“She wants to win and wants to be challenged. She’s a mare who likes to work, so she likes the bigger jumps,” said Makhloghi. They spent the year going between the 7-year-old jumpers and some 1meter 40 and 1meter 45 classes to give them both experience and make sure not to over face either the horse or the rider. Makhloghi didn’t want to lose Scarlet to a sale now that they had become a team, so she approached owners Martijn Frencken and John Steeghs and worked out a plan to buy 51% of the mare. After not owning a horse for her entire junior career, she was now the owner and rider of a horse who appeared to have Grand Prix potential.

Photo courtesy of Kyla Makhloghi

They took their time to become consistent over the bigger tracks, and in December 2019,  just before the start of the Winter Equestrian Festival, were ready to take on their first ever Grand Prix. “I’m new at this and so is she, so we each make mistakes, but we learn from them and keep and improving every time out,” Makhloghi said. “She likes to do things her way and I’m ok with that. We are partners and she trusts me.” The two were consistently placing in the qualifying classes and some big stake classes, so Scarlet and Makhloghi entered 2 more Grand Prix classes during the winter season. They kept getting better, building on the experience—then the shutdown happened.

Makhloghi wasn’t sure if the time off would be good or bad for the pair, so when shows got the go ahead, they did some lower classes the first week at Saratoga to give Scarlet time to adjust to showing again. She looked so good and was so ready that they entered her in the $25,000 Grand Prix with the hopes that she would have a good experience and do well. She exceeded everyone’s expectations and produced two clear rounds for the win. This was only the 4th Grand Prix class for both Hurry Up B and Makhloghi herself. 

Photo © Olivia Ferro at Rowfantina Photo

“I’ve never shown at Devon, Harrisburg or Washington, but I’ve dreamed of winning a Grand Prix. For those of us who have to work for every ride, we think maybe it’s not achievable. Scarlet and I are proof that it can be done. It took me longer than I hoped—I’m 35—but I kept working every day toward that dream and Scarlet and I made it happen. There is a quote that says, ‘Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.’ Well I don’t agree with it. I love what I do, but I put in some incredibly long days and work really hard, but it’s all worth it and I wouldn’t change a thing.”