Katharine “Kate” Cassidy is a NAYRC Bronze Medalist, USDF Silver and Bronze Medalist, and USDF Silver Freestyle bar recipient from San Diego, California. For the majority of her equestrian career, Kate has ridden dressage, but she has also dabbled in hunter/jumpers, equitation, and many forms of western riding.
Kate’s first dressage horse, Aavignon Andante, was far from destined to be in the big dressage ring. However, Kate was able to transform her seven-year-old Saschen Anhaltiner hunter prospect into a respected, national FEI small-tour competitor. They finished the 2015 season with an invitation to compete at the USDF US Dressage Finals for the Open Fourth Level Freestyle and CDS FEI Jr/YR Champions.
Kate was paired up with Pellegrini, a Hanoverian gelding, in 2013 and finished their 2015 season as the USDF Region 7 Young Rider Champions with a 69.342%, CDS FEI Jr/YR High Point Champions with a 67.063% and CDS FEI Young Rider Champions with a 66.389%.
Recently, Kate acquired a lease with Donna Richardson’s Welt Erbe (“Velt Er Ba”) and the pair worked diligently to secure a position on the 2016 Region 7 Young Rider team. At the conclusion of the 2016 season, the combination is ranked 11th in the nation, 142nd in the world and received a bronze medal at the NAJYRC.
Kate rides with USDF Gold Medalist Tina Caldwell and attends clinics with world-renown clinicians like Charlotte Bredahl, Jan Ebeling, Jane Weatherwax, George Williams, and Paul Belasik on a semi-regular basis. Along with catch riding horses for her trainer, Kate is also a full-time student at the University of California, San Diego, studying chemistry and molecular cell biology, and intends to pursue a graduate level education. Additionally at her university, Kate competes with the UCSD Equestrian Intercollegiate Hunter/Jumper team.
Looking toward the future, Kate hopes to find a partner for her FEI Under 25 Grand Prix dreams and intends to always pursue competitive dressage.
At the start of 2016, Kate secured partnerships with popular brands like Romfh Equestrian Apparel, Schockemöhle Sports, PDS Saddles, and, of course, C4 Belts. These relationships are just the start for her equestrian career and provide a network that has proved to be invaluable.
You can keep up with Kate on her Instagram account @_kate.cassidy_
Kate's Riding History
I started riding when I was two years old, begging my mom to take me anywhere and everywhere that had a horse. Initially I started with Western lessons, but I transitioned to English riding when I was six years old. My heart wanted to pursue jumping; however, my mom urged me to develop my technique through dressage so that I would be safer and more prepared for jump courses. Reluctantly, I fell into dressage as I just wanted to be near horses. My competition career began when I was ten on my first pony Zippity Do-Dah. From there, I started to realize how fun dressage could be and I was addicted to learning how to direct my horse and communicate with him without using words. I truly fell in love with and began to dedicate myself to the sport at the age of 16.
I do not own any horses at this time, but I am currently schooling and showing a horse named Beowulf or "Rogan" (owned by Edward Fischer of San Diego, California). Ro is a 14 year old bay Hanoverian gelding with more heart than any horse I have ever known. He is so friendly, kind, and has a personality that fills arenas.
Kate's Favorite Accomplishments
My recent Bronze Medal at the NAJYRC is definitely at the top of my list! That day was so surreal and standing on the podium with some of the best riders in North America as my amazing support team watched was one of the best moments of my life. Welt Erbe and I went on to compete in all three phases of the championships, placing 11th overall.
Past NAJYRC, I have been able to claim multiple championship titles including 2015 Region 7 FEI Young Rider Champion, 2015 Southern California FEI Young Rider Champion, Overall FEI Jr/YR Champion, and FEI High Point Champion, 2014 Southern California Overall FEI Jr/YR Champion and FEI High Point Champion. Last year, I also qualified for and was invited to the United States Dressage Finals for the Fourth Level Open Freestyle after finishing in the top five of my championship class at the Region 7 Finals. However, the arduous trip to Kentucky in the middle of my fall semester was not something I could accommodate.
Why Kate Loves C4 Belts
I love C4 because I am a huge advocate for self expression. I have always worn bright colors in the warm up ring, even wearing a purple shadbelly in a few CDI's and Championships. C4Belts allows each person to discover what they like and make a statement about it; the belts give me the freedom to be me. Prior to discovering C4Belts, I always had belt marks on my whites from my leather belts that were IMPOSSIBLE to get out. Now, I don't have to worry about the leather bleeding because of the animal friendly material C4 uses. I also love and appreciate how C4 gives back to charities with their belts. It creates a community and encourages people to be charitable and gracious.
Kate's Advice to Fellow Riders
Don’t ever give up. Honestly, I know it’s cliche, but it’s true. You can do this. You just need to put in the work and you’ll get there. Both life and equestrianism is a process and a journey and you need to enjoy all the troubles that you go through because that is what shapes you to be the person you’re meant to be. I owe a lot of my skills to my previous horse, Pellegrini; on the ground, he was the sweetest horse and loved to follow me around in pasture. When I got on his back, however, Pellegrini spent every moment testing me, asking if I was sure that I wanted to half pass or if I /really/ wanted that flying change. Every time I would let go of my seat, Pellegrini was convinced I wanted a walk break and would promptly walk, even if we were in the middle of a movement. He taught me humility, respect, determination, and, eventually, confidence. He taught me to trust in myself and my own ability and how to problem shoot in the middle of a test when his hind leg would shut down. Pellegrini wasn’t the traditional ‘horse of a lifetime’, but I wouldn’t trade the three years I had with him for anything else in the world.
A little more about Kate!
I have two favorite quotes that I think would be pertinent to mention. The first was said to me personally at a clinic with Paul Belasik. He said to me: “it’s a duet… That is what [dressage] is about. This is teamwork.” I love this quote because it highlights that behind the good, the bad, and everything in between is a partnership that needs to be cultivated with mutual respect and understanding.
The second quote comes from the fifteenth century from Antoine de Pluvinel, and I believe that it relates nicely with the quote from Paul Belasik. “You can never rely on a horse that is educated by fear! There will always be something that he fears more than you. But, when he trusts you, he will ask you what to do when he is afraid.” It is impossible to build a healthy relationship with any being, whether it be animal or human, based off of fear. Fear is an emotion that elicits the fight or flight response, and this reaction is triggered when the creature is under pressure. By building a partnership based off of trust, mutual respect, understanding boundaries, and not pushing limits, your horse will understand that, with you, there is nothing he can’t do.