Cathleen Driscoll Makes Her Own Way to the Top of the 2018 EAP National Training Session


Findlay, Ohio—November 12, 2018—For 25 year-old Cathleen Driscoll, the USHJA Emerging Athletes Program almost seemed out of reach. But the self-taught rider from Elk Mills, Maryland, was up for the challenge and let her riding and horsemanship skills speak for themselves as she rode to the top of a group of 24 talented young equestrians to win the 2018 Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund/USHJA Emerging Athletes Program National Training Session, hosted by The University of Findlay, Nov. 8-11, in Findlay, Ohio,

"I am really excited. I was not expecting this to be completely honest," said Driscoll after her win.

Drawing a feisty grey mare, Escada, Driscoll formed a partnership that blossomed over the course of three days that left the Emerging Athletes Program Committee without a doubt as to who was the winner.

"I was blown away by the change she was able to make in that mare," said Sally Ike, chair of the EAP Committee.

Cathleen Driscoll piloted the University of Findlay's Escada to the win in the Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund/USHJA Emerging Athletes Program National Training Session. Credit: Rachel Sowinski/USHJA

"She is a very, very hot mare... It was figuring out how to manage that quickness and that hotness without getting in her way too much," Driscoll said of the 15.3h Hanoverian mare owned by the University of Findlay. "I've had my share of difficult horses growing up, so I was up to the challenge for sure. And, I knew if I could get along with her and make it work, we would be ok. I was really impressed with how she jumped around the course [Sunday] and that we made a big improvement over the three days and that was exciting to see."

Lead riding clinician for the 10th annual EAP National Training Session, Olympic gold medalist Joe Fargis, echoed the thoughts of the committee.

"She's good. It's not mysterious. She's very good. The horse improved every day. Every day. The horse got calmer and quieter and straighter and better," said Fargis, whose straightforward way of teaching and emphasis on the basics set all 16 riders up for success in Sunday's Nations Cup-style competition with a course designed by Anthony D'Ambrosio.

"I was really excited when I saw that Joe was going to be the clinician for this," said Driscoll. "I think he suits my style of riding a little bit. He's very simplistic, and I appreciate that. It's amazing how much you can learn with not much being said. Everything is very simple, and he definitely takes things back to the basics."

Self-taught for the last nine years, Driscoll started riding on the local show circuit competing in hunters and equitation. At age 16 she decided to keep her horses at home and started riding on her own, acting as her own braider, groom, trainer and hauler when she goes to shows.

"I know it's not a route many people take, but it actually did wonders for me," said Driscoll. "I go to the shows. I watch the schooling ring. I watch rounds. I watch the live stream. I am someone that can learn a lot by watching and listening, and that's how I've gotten to where I am. I pick up every bit of information I can."

Cathleen Driscoll earned a spot at a 2019 USHJA Gold Star Clinic in the 1.10/1.15m section, a $3,000 grant to be used toward advanced educational training, a pair of Parlanti International tall boots, and a trophy as the overall winner. Credit: Rachel Sowinski/USHJA

After watching each of the 16 riders complete two rounds in Sunday's Nations Cup-style competition, Driscoll and Escada had ridden their way to the top, and the EAP Committee members present-Mary Babick, Amy Center, Sally Ike, Tracy Forman, James Morris, Mary Roskens, Sunny Stevens, Kip Rosenthal, and Anne Thornbury-along with Fargis decided to bring back four riders to ride off for the Reserve Champion placing. Returning for the ride off was Maura Cherny, Katie Pelzel, Alicia Weismann and Kiersti Wylie. The four riders were assigned new mounts, and were given two warm up fences before they had to complete the course a third time.

Earning the Reserve Champion title was 20 year-old Maura Cherny who rode Goldfish, owned by University of Findlay alumna Kiera Phlipot, for the week and Waffle, owned by the University of Findlay, in Sunday's ride off.

"The whole week on Goldfish was very good; I really liked him," said Cherny. "I like riding with Joe and how he starts out with the horses because that's how I like to start [my rides]-I like to just slowly start and feel them and see what happens. I liked feeling Goldfish kind of turn on when the competition started which is awesome and what I wanted. Waffle was a completely different ride, but he's a powerhouse. I saw him go last year, and 'I was like I want to ride that horse.'"

Cherny's biggest take away from Fargis this weekend was to "always be patient and don't set a horse up to fail because that's not fair; you're not going to get anywhere."

Philipot's 10 year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Goldfish, also won the EAP Outstanding Horse Award.

As reserve champion Maura Cherney's mount for the week, Kiera Phlipot's Goldfish earned the Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund/USHJA Emerging Athletes Program Outstanding Horse Award. Pictured here are Kiera Phlipot and Maura Cherney with Goldfish. Credit: Rachel Sowinski/USHJA

As the top two finishers, Driscoll and Cherny each received a riding spot at a 2019 USHJA Gold Star Clinic in the 1.10/1.15m section. The clinics identify Jumper athletes who have the skill and desire to excel in the sport. The four-day clinics offer horsemanship, stable management, mounted instruction and additional educational lectures and seminars from industry leading professionals and clinicians. Driscoll also received a $3,000 grant to be used toward advanced educational training, a pair of Parlanti International tall boots, and a trophy as the overall winner.

The Nations Cup-style competition culminated the 2018 Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund/USHJA Emerging Athletes Program and National Training Session, held at the University of Findlay James L. Child, Jr. Equestrian Complex. The event included four days of riding instruction, stable management evaluation, a written test, the Nations Cup and ride-off, as well as a variety of educational seminars.

Seminars included equine anatomy in motion and a visible rider demonstration with Centered Riding clinician Peggy Brown, sport psychology session with EAP Committee member and sport psychologist Kip Rosenthal, an equine appraisal session with Findlay alumna Sara Ballinger, an equine therapy session with Findlay alumna Pamela Pivaronas, and a hands-on educational longeing seminar with lead stable management clinician Anne Thornbury.

The EAP riders drew for their horses from a pool of mounts generously donated by the University of Findlay and UF alumni Meg McTiver and Kiera Phlipot, and had four days to get to know their mounts through flatwork and over fences training with Fargis before contesting the Nations Cup.

"The horses that schools have provided in the past have been outstanding and this year was no exception," said Ike. "We are very appreciative of the generosity of all the donors and the University of Findlay for providing such talented horses for this event."

The 16 riders were divided into four groups to work together during the event and compete as a team in the Nations Cup. Each team was also supported by two stable managers during the competition. Teams were named after each of the four horses on the 2018 World Equestrian Games Gold Medal U.S. Show Jumping Team.

Team Zeremonie (Bella Canzano, Maura Cherny, Leacy Paul, Genevieve Munson, and stable managers Lauren Alsborg and Elle Brady) earned gold, Team Cristalline (Kit Cunningham, Katie Pelzel, Alicia Weismann, Kiersti Wylie and stable managers Johanna Jessen and Devina Stone) earned silver, Team Clinta (Sam Berry, Bridget Finnerty, Ada Rohan, Madeline Vorhies, and stable managers Annie Drew and Selina Petronelli) earned bronze and Team Eddie Blue (Cathleen Driscoll, Hope King, Cary Hundley, Elise Vandamme, and stable managers Frances McGivern and Leah Samouhos) placed fourth.

Athletes wrapped up the Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund/USHJA Emerging Athletes Program National Training Session with a Nations Cup-style competition, complete with team podium awards. Credit: Rachel Sowinski/USHJA

All eight of the stable managers this year also were awarded spots to work with lead stable manager Colleen Reed at one of three 2019 USHJA Gold Star Clinics.

Other award winners included:

  • Peer-Nominated Sportsmanship Award - Leah Samouhos
  • Oustanding Stable Manager - Leah Samouhos
  • Shapley's Best Turned Out Horse - Wymore, owned by the University of Findlay and ridden and groomed by Kiersti Wylie

The University of Findlay's Wymore earned the Shapley's Best Turned Out Horse Award. She was ridden and groomed by Kiersti Wylie. Credit: Rachel Sowinski/USHJA

The USHJA thanks EAP title sponsor, the Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund, along with awards sponsors Charles Owen, Inc; CWD; Parlanti International, Professional's Choice, and Shapley's.

The USHJA Emerging Athletes Program is supported in part by a generous grant from US Equestrian, as well as by individual donors through the USHJA Foundation.

For more information about the Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund/USHJA Emerging Athletes program, visit