In love with riding since she first stepped into the saddle as a 6-year-old, Victoria Giachino has proven over and over again that she’s a talented equestrian. However, the 2009 St. Charles East grad knows she needs to prove herself each time she steps into the ring.
The youngest of Sarah and Nick Giachino’s two children, Victoria convinced her mother to let her start riding after watching her sister, Olivia, take lessons. Since the day she first rode Barney, a 20-year-old grey warmblood, Giachino has compiled an impressive resume, winning the 2006 Kentucky Spring Classic and finishing third at the United States Equestrian Federation Junior Hunter Horse of the Year in 2007.
Now, Giachino – who turns 21 today – is a junior at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, one of 23 colleges and universities to offer equestrian as a varsity sport. As “nerve-racking” as freshman year was for Giachino, she feels as comfortable as ever juggling practice and a rigorous course schedule in the Neeley School of Business.
“This is going to be a terrific year,” she said. “We have a great group of girls, and our team has a great amount of talent.”
She’s hoping that three successful weeks of riding abroad this summer will carry over into the Horned Frogs’ season.
With the help of trainer Karl Schneider and friend and former TCU rider Stephanie Schuepbach, Giachino received invitations to three shows in Germany to compete against riders from Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Giachino took first in one jumping class and was fifth in two other classes at the Gera FEI International Summer Meeting, and riding two horses – Alegro 84 and Chubby Checker – at the Bornheim-Widdig Horse Show and the Bonn-Rodderberg Summer Meeting, she posted four top-3 finishes and was no worse than eighth in any of the classes (1.10 meters, 1.18 and 1.25).
“It was probably the best riding in my life,” Giachino said.
Before leaving for Germany, Giachino learned that Logan Fiorentino, who as a Georgia assistant from 2008-10 helped the Bulldogs win two Varsity Equestrian National Championships, was hired to take over the Horned Frogs’ Hunt Seat program.
“Coach Fiorentino has a great record and experience being on a winning team,” Giachino said.
Fiorentino learned firsthand how dedicated Giachino is to helping TCU follow that same path when she met the junior while she was helping teammates clean the horses and equipment in preparation for the first practice.
“She was out there for hours at a time,” Fiorentino said. “It’s refreshing to see someone so committed.”
That’s a perfect description of Giachino, who doesn’t take her position on the team for granted.
“Every time you go to practice you’re selling yourself to the coaches to let them know you’re ready to compete,” she said.
Giachino was ready Jan. 30 at Oak Hill Farm in Fort Worth, where she made her collegiate debut against Delaware State. Judged for the best accuracy, transitions, maneuvers, circle sizes and body positioning during the 2 1/2-minute course, Giachino defeated Amanda Hotz, 80-73, to earn a point in the Horned Frogs’ 15-5 victory.
“It was really exciting,” she said. “I had only ridden that horse (Wilbur) maybe twice before. “You’re just supposed to make it look easy.”
Giachino should be doing a lot of that this season.
• Matt Beardmore writes a weekly On Campus column about area athletes competing in college. If you would like to submit a column idea, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.