By Lauren R. Giannini
“It’s all great,” said Cathy Wieschhoff when asked what’s new and exciting with the CW Event Team based at her Carriage Station Farm in the heart of the bluegrass in Lexington, Kentucky. “The farm is going great — my barn is full and people are knocking on the doors. I’m totally into cross-country and show jumping course design and teaching lessons and clinics. It’s all really positive.”
Well-known for her cheerful attitude, Cathy is a respected specialist in three-day eventing, the equestrian triathlon of dressage, cross-country and show jumping. Although she enjoys bringing along and competing up-and-coming prospects, she admits that the days of setting her sights to compete at the upper levels and at four-stars like Rolex Kentucky are coming to a halt. Her focus is now on education and promoting involvement in equestrian sports.
“I love to teach and train,” said Cathy. “I have a good lesson and training program at Carriage Station and, with kids looking into colleges like UK [University of Kentucky] and hoping to get in with me at my barn, I’m calling the kids who are graduating and asking, ‘Are you staying or going or what?’ Of course, they’re all welcome to stay, but it’s exciting that I’m where I need to know if any stalls will be available.
“I’m very excited right now because I just completed all my requirements in show jumping course design and I’m ready to send it to the USEF [U.S. Equestrian Federation],” continued Cathy. “Not true show jumping, but for eventing — I’ll be licensed to design one- and two-star show jumping courses. That’s really cool, and I’m getting more jobs doing course design. I was down in Florida this year and it was awesome — I was able to take the time to do two apprenticeships at HITS and take a jumper course design seminar with Anthony D’Ambrosio and Steve Stephens. That was really fun.”
Always crazy about horses, Cathy grew up moving around the U.S., thanks to her father’s Navy career postings. Shortly after earning her “A” rating with Redwood Pony Club in California, Cathy moved to Lexington. She wasn’t quite 20 years old, but she was ready to start building her own career about the same time that her parents began a 20-year stretch of living overseas for her father’s job. It was 1978 — the new Kentucky Horse Park hosted the World Championships, turning Lexington into a bluegrass Mecca of eventing.
The experience resulted in a professional who knows exactly how much time, effort, energy and money it takes to achieve the upper levels of eventing. “I’m really enjoying teaching and bringing along young horses,” said Cathy. “I sold a few of my off-the-track Thoroughbreds that I had in training, so I’m in the market to replace them and get a few more to bring along. As for competing, if the right horse falls into my lap including someone to pay the bills and expenses, I might be inspired to give it my best shot. I had a student’s horse last year and the rider was injured, but she wanted to move the horse up to Preliminary and we had three good runs at Preliminary, but I love teaching and bringing along young horses.
“Now, if you have a horse for Rolex, you’re probably going to The Fork at the beginning of April,” she continued. “I just got back from Florida. Instead of packing to go to The Fork for one last run before Rolex, I get to stay home, teach my students, maybe compete one or two babies and coach at a local horse trial. I’m enjoying my life and also a bit of financial ease. I’m really good at teaching and really good at bringing along young horses.”
Cathy has an instinctive gift for building confidence, whether green horse or intimidated rider. She also continues to fortify her own skills, and her credentials include being certified as a Level IV instructor through the U.S. Eventing Association’s Instructor Certification Program. She’s on several committees, for years has donated her time to the U.S. Pony Club and she has served as Area VIII’s eventing coach for the North American Junior & Young Rider Championships, which take place in July at the Kentucky Horse Park.
“The Area VIII Young Rider program went through a change of leadership. I’m still the coach for NAJYRC this year, but next year we’re doing things a little differently,” said Cathy. “There are several Level IV ICP instructors in Area VIII — Sharon White, Dorothy Crowell, Robin Walker, myself, and Katy Groesbeck, who moved to Ohio and has taught at the Area VIII camp. We’re trying to do a rotation so that I’d teach two years, another coach would teach two years, etc. We hope to keep the coaching of Area VIII kids with ICP instructors based in Area VIII in Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia.”
Cathy’s home base at Carriage Station Farm puts her in the catbird seat in terms of proximity to the Kentucky Horse Park and all of the horse-related amenities and activities that characterize Lexington. While there’s no place like home, Cathy still has that gypsy gene.
“I’m going to teach clinics in New Mexico and last year I went to Canada and they want me back to do a clinic again this year,” said Cathy with her trademark enthusiasm. “I had a great time in Florida with all my students. I love to travel and teach, and I love bringing along the young horses. I’m starting the process to get my large “R” in eventing course design. I feel as if I’m moving in the right direction in my life — not retiring, I don’t think I’ll ever retire because I love what I do — but going into other areas and taking everything with me that I ever learned and learning new stuff. I’m having a great time. I’m having fun.”
For more information, visit www.cwevent.com