Not since Lindsay Mayers of Colorado State placed ninth at 2000 IHSA Nationals had a Zone 7, Region 1 rider made the top ten in the Cacchione Cup competition. Elizabeth Webb of the University of Wyoming ended that drought on May 8th. A senior from Demascus, Maryland, Webb is seen here after receiving the fourth-place ribbon after the work-off phase of the Cacchione competition was completed.


(Kate Heisler, a Truman State University junior from Kirksville, Missouri who competed at 2009 IHSA Nationals in individual novice over fences and at 2010 IHSA Nationals in team open on the flat, has prepared her account of the Cacchione Cup Competition at 2010 Nationals in Lexington, Kentucky May 7th and 8th. Heisler asked if we could write a paragraph at the beginning explaining the history of the Cacchione Cup, as she felt our Editor knew much more about the history of the award than she did. So here goes...

The Cacchione Cup, awarded each year to the top hunter seat open rider as determined through a three-step process at IHSA Nationals, was the third award ever to be given out within the organization. Following the first team trophy and the original alumni trophy, the Cacchione Cup was first awarded a year later, in 1972. The Cup is named for Mario "Marty" Cacchione, the Father of IHSA Founder and Executive Director Bob Cacchione. Duncan Peters, who won the Cacchione Cup in 1972 while riding for the University of Connecticut, is the only rider in Cacchione Cup history to win the Cup when the IHSA was only one large region. The IHSA was split into two regions for the 1972-73 season, with Mark Weissbecker of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst earning the second Cacchione award by way of a formula. However the third Cacchione winner won it the same way as the 2010 winner. Marty Webster of Bennett College finished ahead of the field in what was then Region 2 of the three-region IHSA, thus earning the right to compete against two other riders from Regions 1 and 3 at the first IHSA National show in New Hope, Pennsylvania on May 4, 1974. Webster then won the Cacchione class at Nationals to become the third rider (and first female rider) to do so. By 1980 the IHSA was seven regions strong, thus meaning seven Cacchione entries at Nationals. By 1990 16 riders were entered. By 2000 23 riders qualified to compete for the cup. In 2010 31 riders survived the rigors of the regular season to represent their respective regions at Nationals. Only three riders have ever won the Cup more than once, with CeCe Williamson of the University of Virginia the only rider to win it on consecutive years, and also the only rider to win it three seasons in a row (1981-83). That pretty much sums up the history. Now on to Heisler's story...)

LEXINGTON, KY - Each year at IHSA Nationals the USEF/Cacchione Cup brings together riders from across the country to compete for top IHSA hunt seat honor. The contending field is made up of 31 riders, each of which was the top Open level rider from his or her Region. Becoming one of the 31 Cacchione representatives is no easy feat. Only the rider with the most combined open flat and fences points in his or her region advances to Nationals to compete for the Cup. Then the field of 31 riders is narrowed down further, as after the first two phases of the Cacchione division are completed only a specific number are invited back for the work-off phase. At 2010 Nationals 14 of the 31 riders were selected for the work-off, with four asked to switch horses after the initial work-off test.

Seen here during 'Section A' of the Cacchione Cup flat phase on May 7th is the University of Kentucky's Ali Cibon. Though the junior from Bannockburn, Illinois would only place eighth in the Cacchione division Cibon would win team open over fences the next day. Cibon has now won at least one class at each of her first three IHSA National shows (Photo by Kate Heisler).

Out of the thirty one Cacchione riders at the 2010 IHSA Nationals, only two were back from the 2009 Cacchione competition, a testament to just how hard qualifying from one season to the next is. Brown University senior Elizabeth Gilberti (who was the defening Reserve Champion) and Penn State sophomore Elizabeth Lubrano (who was fourth in her first Cacchione appearance) were the only returnees from the 2009 Cacchione classes at the Miller Coliseum in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Many Cacchione riders also have notable riding careers outside of the IHSA, and have competed at the national level as junior riders (and won). Kelse Bonham, a sophomore at Savannah College of Art and Design, was the 2008 United States Equestrian Federation Pessoa National Hunter Seat Medal Finals winner, a top honor in the equitation world. Bonham also finished second in Individual Open Equitation over Fences at Nationals last year. Several other Cacchione riders have made previous Nationals appearances, such as the exceptional Ali Cibon of University of Kentucky. Cibon finished second in team open equitation on the Flat, third in individual intermediate equitation on the Flat, and first in individual intermediate equitation over Fences last year. Elysse Ruschmeyer of Fairfield University finished fourth in the individual Open Equitation over Fences in 2009, and Katherine Wallace of the College of William & Mary who competed and placed in both individual intermediate classes in Murfreesboro. Many of the Cacchione riders had multiple rides at this year’s completion, including Mary Bungum of St. Mary of the Woods College. A senior from Park Ridge, Illinois, Bungum rode six times during the 2010 National competition, as would Katherine 'Katie' Furches of Hollins University, and Cibon. Many other riders were in a similar boat, and would ride at least four times, twice in the Cacchione and two more times either for their team or in individual open classes. For no less than eleven riders the 2010 Cacchione Cup was their first IHSA Nationals experience. Zone 9 riders Rori Fiebert, a sophomore at Washington University in St. Louis, and Emily Pope, a freshman from the University of Minnesota - Twin cities made trips to Nationals for the first time. Overall, the 31 Cacchione Cup riders were an experienced group, and promised to offer thrilling competition.

Following the alumni fences and team intermediate fences the Cacchione Cup competition got underway on Friday, May 7. Like all other 2010 IHSA Nationals classes the Cacchione was held in the new Indoor Equestrian Event Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. The arena was beautifully groomed for the first round of Cup competition, the over fences phase. All 31 riders drew the traditional numbered rubber ducks to see who they would be riding, with the duck pond made to resemble Churchill Downs due to the proximity of the horse park to the annual site of the Kentucky Derby. The riding was outstanding, as can only be expected at this level. The combined scores of Judges Don Stewart and Susie Schoellkopf were announced after each round, so that competitors, coaches and enthusiasts could keep up with the competition. Lindsay Sceats of Mount Holyoke College earned an '89,' the top jumping score within the first Cacchione phase and one of the highest over fences scores of the entire show. This gave Sceats a slight lead over the second place score of Skidmore college senior Elizabeth Kigin with an '88.' Ashley Miller from Virginia Intermont College earned an '87,' Centenary College junior Lindsey Mohr earned an '86' and Elizabeth Webb from the University of Wyoming was given an '85' to round out the top five riders through the first round. Save for Wallace who had an unfortunate fall, the scores for the over fences phase ranged from '89' down to '60.' The top thirteen riders all received an '80' or higher, the same amount that managed to do so at '09 Nationals. Those fourteenth through twenty-sixth place all received respectable scores in the 70’s.

While Elizabeth Lubrano of Penn State poses with the yellow ribbon, four prior Cacchione Cup winners can be seen on the far right. Fourth from the right is James Fairclough II, who as a Drew University junior won the 2008 Cacchione Cup in Burbank, California. Third from the right is Centenary College senior Lindsay Clark, who won the 2009 Cup in Murfreesboro, Tennessee (and is still dressed from team open over fences earlier in the morning). Second from the right is Heide Bossow (now Heide Casciaro), who twice won the Cacchione Cup for Hollins in 1985 (at the Kentucky Horse Park, when the show was entirely outdoors) and 1987 (indoors at the Indiana State Fairgrounds). And on the far right is Suzie Horrigan (now Suzie Campbell), who as a sophomore won the Cacchione Cup for Colby-Sawyer College in 1976. Between Lubrano and Fairclough is IHSA Founder and Executive Director Bob Cacchione. The Cacchione Cup is actually named for Bob's Father, Mario "Marty" Cacchione. A sophomore from Glenmoore, Pennsylvania, Lubrano upgraded one place from the white ribbon at '09 Nationals.

The second round of the USEF/Cacchione Cup competition took place after the flat horses had been warmed up for the afternoon classes, but still directly after the fences phase was completed. The 31 riders were divided into two groups to avoid ring overcrowding (and perhaps so some horses could be used in both flat sections - Editor). Section 'A' was the bigger of the two, with 16 riders. For the flat all 31 riders would receive at least an '80' score, apparently a first for any IHSA Nationals where combined judge's scores for flat were publically posted (by contrast only eleven of the 31 2009 entries received an '80' on the flat or higher). Gilberti, who stood in seventh place after the fences phase, made her flat ride on 'Graffiti,' a fan favorite chestnut gelding provided by Centenary College. Gilberti showed consistancy from one phase to another, receiving another '84' (certainly making it easy to determine her average). Skidmore’s Elizabeth Kigin, second after fences, earned an '82.5.' Lindsey Mohr, who stood in fourth place, received a '90' for her flat work and was then in third place going into the final round. An outstanding '92,' the high flat score, was received by Lubrano while Delaware Valley College senior Terrence Prunty was given an '88' for his equitation on the flat ride. Miller of Virginia Intermont, third after the first round with an '87,' received an '89' for her ride on the flat aboard 'Monty,' who coincidentally is owned by her school. This ride would put the junior from Raritan, New Jersey in first place going into the third phase, the work-off. Cibon was also in section A, and rode 'Footing,' provided by the University of the South, to receive a score of '91.'

Following the first western class of 2010 Nationals, Section 'A' of the individual AQHA Trophy division (the western equivalent to the Cacchione Cup), Section 'B' of the Cacchione Cup saw 15 riders walk, trot and canter in similar fashion to the earlier section. Sceats drew 'Grady,' from Cazenovia and received an '86,' securing her place in the work-off on Saturday. While Sceats was in fourth place for the moment Ruschmeyer flatted on 'Onassis,' provided by Centenary College, and earned a score of '84' to hold sixth place. Ruschmeyer was only a half point from equaling her total over fences earlier in the morning, but still was likely high enough to earn a call back. The University of Wyoming’s Elizabeth Webb had an outstanding ride on 'Sampson' (another Virginia Intermont horse), to give her a 90.5 and put the sophomore from Demascus, Maryland into third place going into the final round. Section B also saw riders who were not initially in the top ten receive a call back. Brittany Henson from the University of Nevada at Reno rode 'Seaside' proved by the University of Kentucky, and earned an '88.5.' Suzanne Snyder from St. Lawrence University was given an '87' for her ride on 'Best Boy' from Skidmore College, and Washington and Jefferson College’s Erica Green was awarded an '87.5' for her ride on 'Tyler,' also provided by Skidmore. Bonham drew 'Carter,' yet another mount provided by Centenary College, and earned a '90.' This elevated Bonham from eleventh through the jumping to seventh through two phases.

Within two hours of the completion of the flats the decision was made as to where the cut-off would be. Since Nationals went to three phases in 2003 the cut-off has been as low as fifth place and as high as tenth. However history was made as the top 14 riders were invited back to work off the next morning. This meant that not only would it be the largest work-off in IHSA Nationals history but that four of the 14 riders would ultimately not receive a top ten ribbon. Miller, Mohr, Webb, Lubrano, Sceats, Cibon, Bonham, Kigin, Prunty, Green, Ruschmeyer, Gilberti, Henson and Snyder were the top 14. It was interesting that the Judges chose to make the cut at that number, for while Cibon had a combined score of '174' through two phases for sixth Bonham was at a combined '172' in seventh while both Kigin and Prunty were tied with '170.5' (Reese Green of the University of Vermont - who is not related to Erica Green - was sitting in 15th place with a combined '163.' With Snyder so much further up at '165.5' it was a clear-cut situation to stop at 14). In any event the top 14 were likely elated to see their seasons continue another day.

Though she had the eleventh-best over fences score and was tied with the fourth-best flat score, Kelse Bonham of Savannah College of Art & Design kept moving up as the Cacchione class progressed. Seen here during the flat phase the sophomore who currently calls Eolia, Missouri home was one of four riders who switched horses midway through the work-off and eventually was crowned the Reserve National Champion for 2010.

The third and final phase of Cacchione Cup competition took place on Saturday morning following the team open over fences class, in which several of the Cacchione riders coincidentally competed for their respective teams. The top four finishers in that class (Cibon, Sceats, Miller and Kigin) would all return to the ring right away to ride in the finals for the USEF/Cacchione Cup. Following some modifications involving the on-course halt box, Ruschmeyer was first into the ring. The Fairfield senior, who stood tied for tenth, rode Cornell University's 'Clifford.' Next in the ring was Erica Green, who had an unfortunate refusal at fence five. This would technichally drop Green to twelfth, in a sense leaving her tied with Ruschmeyer. Prunty went third on Skidmore's 'Best Boy,' and when the dust settled Prunty would technically end up in eleventh place. Kigin, sitting in eighth place abord Virginia Intermont's 'Sampson,' went fourth. Henson sat in thirteenth place prior to her ride on VI’s 'Darina.' Thanks to their work off rides, Kigin would improve to sixth place and Henson to tenth.

Bonham would go next aboard 'Will,' also a Virginia Intermont-owned horse. Bonham's outstanding ride would bring her from seventh place to the top four. Gilberti, the 2009 Reserve Champion, was the seventh rider into the ring. Gilberti rode 'Grady,' owned by Cazenovia College, and rose from twelfth to a final ranking of ninth place (ironically one year earlier the Brown senior from Washington, DC sat in ninth place prior to the work-off but leaped all the way to second!). Snyder, having been the last rider in before the forteenth-place cut-off, was next aboard 'Footing.' Snyder would technically finish thirteenth. Ninth to go was team open over fences champion Cibon. Though the day had started with a blue ribbon her effort in the work-off would take Cibon from sixth place to an eighth place ribbon. Sceats followed Cibon aboard Cazenovia's 'Monty.' The Mount Holyoke junior from Colorado Springs, Colorado faired very well was later given opportunity to switch horses when the field was paired down to four. Eleventh to go was Lubrano. Sitting in fourth place and having earned the white ribbon at 2009 Nationals, Lubrano had a fine trip on Skidmore College’s gray gelding 'Aspen' and secured a spot in the top four. Bonham, Sceats and Lubrano would be joined by the twelveth rider into the ring. Webb, a sophomore from Demascus, Maryland, drew 'Graffiti,' provided by Centenary College. With her beautiful ride Webb would be the final rider selected for the top four. Mohr was the pennultimate rider in the work-off. The Centenary junior from Long Valley, New Jersey (the same town where Centenary's riding facilities are located) drew 'Whiz Kid,' owned by former University of Kentucky Head Coach Elaine Schott. Though she sat in third place going in Mohr would eventually be awarded the pink ribbon. Miller, one of three New Jersey residents in the work-off (from Raritan, New Jersey) rode 'Farmer,' a gelding provided by Cazenovia College. Though she was second headed into the work-off Miller would go on to finish in seventh place.

The top four would be called back to ride a test to determine the Champion. Lubrano would switch horses with Sceats (the latter now on 'Aspen' and the former on 'Monty') while Bonham and Webb did likewise (meaning Bonham was now on 'Graffiti' and Webb on 'Will'). The ladies entered the ring in the order they would test (Webb on 'Will,' Bonham on 'Graffiti,' Lubrano on 'Monty' and Sceats on 'Aspen'). Not always, but typically in equitation testing, riders are tested in the reverse order of their standing, fourth to first. The test was completed by each, with grand reaction from the crowd but especially from Mount Holyoke College as they cheered on Sceats. Sceats had the benefit of being the only rider in the second test who could claim a full hunter seat team was in the stands stirring up the arena with their applause.

"Doesn't the Cacchione Cup look different this year?" Mount Holyoke College junior Lindsay Sceats holds the brand-new edition of the Cacchione Cup after besting 30 others to become the 35th rider over 39 seasons to capture top individual hunter seat honors at Nationals. Noted equestrian sculptor Kathryn Capley designed the latest version of the Cacchione trophy, the third to be introduced in the IHSA's 43 seasons. Sceats, a junior from Colorado Springs, Colorado was first after the jumping phase, technically third (behind four riders) after the flat phase and back into first after the work-off.

Once the ring was cleared, and the tables which held the ribbons and prizes were set up, the Cacchione Cup Awards Ceremony got underway. All 21 riders who finished out of the top ten received participation ribbons. Top ten ribbons and jackets were then awarded, with Henson tenth, Giliberti ninth, Cibon eighth, Miller seventh, Kigin sixth, and Mohr fifth. When only the top four remained in the ring the results of the second test became apparent. Though no rider from Zone 7, Region 1 has ever won the Cacchione Cup, Webb received fourth place which is this region's top showing in the Cacchione class since at least 1996 if not their top ribbon ever. Lubrano moved up one placing in one year with the third (If this trend continues Lubrano will be the Reserve Champion next season and the Champion her senior year. For the record not since Luanne Richards of Penn State won it in 1978 has a Zone 3 rider - from any Zone 3 region - won the Cacchione Cup). It was down to the top two, and suspense was high. Bonham was then announced at the reserve champion, and the Mount Holyoke team exploded into cheers. This meant Sceats had become the third Mount Holyoke rider in IHSA history to win the USEF/Cacchione Cup, joining Claudia Barth (who won in 1990) and Laena Romond (who won in 2002 during her only year showing IHSA). There was a far-greater media presence this season than at any prior IHSA National show in the organization's 43 years, and Sceats, Mount Holyoke Head Coach C.J. Law (who has been in South Hadley, Massachusetts for all three Cacchione Cups and all three hunter seat IHSA National Champion teams in Mount Holyoke history) and even IHSA Founder and Executive Director Bob Cacchione were swept away under the stands to be interviewed by the likes of the Chronicle of the Horse, the Paint Horse Journal and R. Scot Evans of Equestrian Life. Through an agreement with Horse TV, Evans' interviews with Sceats and others at 2010 IHSA Nationals should be airing on the internet (and on regular television in some markets) over the summer. Before she was wisked away, Sceats mentioned that she currently trains with Mike Denehey and previously with Tracey Powers when back at home in Colorado. Sceats also pointed out that three of the four horses she rode over the weekend were Skidmore horses. This included 'Leroy,' who was voted best hunter seat horse of the show by those in attendance. Skidmore not only had the best horse by popular vote but also the high point hunter seat team, as the well-named Thoroughbreds captured their first team title in 11 years.

More Cacchione Cup stuff: Bonham, a sophomore from Eolia, Missouri, set a new record for a Savannah College of Art & Design rider competing in the Cacchione. Bonham is the first rider in Bee program history to place as high as second in the Cacchione class, besting 2006 graduate Jordan Siegel who was third at 2003 Nationals in Murfreesboro...Zone 5, Region 3 riders have claimed two of the past three Reserve Championships in the Cacchione, with College of Charleston's Hannah Mayer second to James Fairclough II of Drew two seasons ago. Zone 5, Region 3 is still in search of their first Cacchione Cup winner...In the 43 year history only 14 different regions can claim one of their riders (at the time) was the Cacchione Cup winner...Get ready for a faster Cacchione event next season. For the first time ever the IHSA will eliminate part of the Cacchione field at the eight 2011 Zones shows. Only 16 riders will take part when Nationals returns to Lexington next May. This will be the smallest Cacchione field since 1991...With only 16 riders there will be only one Cacchione Cup flat section at '11 Nationals...With R. Scot Evans now in front of the camera he becomes the first person ever to co-judge an IHSA Nationals show and later be an offical part of the media to cover an IHSA Nationals show. Evans co-judged 2000 IHSA Nationals with Susan Humes...Part of the reason only two riders were back from the '09 Cacchione is that 21 of the 31 qualifiers last season were seniors at the time. This year's field was made up of twelve seniors, nine juniors, eight sophomores and two freshman...There was considerable 'geographic displacement' of the Cacchione entries this season, as many chose to attend school far away from their front door. Only eleven riders went to school in their home state, with Sceats (Colorado to Massachusetts), Webb (Maryland to Wyoming) and Nicole DiCorti of Lake Erie College (California to Ohio) traveling the furthest for college...The Cacchione Cup itself was brand-new at 2010 Nationals, as the previous version of the coveted trophy has been retired. A ceremony at the Kentucky Horse Park Museum on the evening of May 7th saw several former Cacchione riders attend, including 1972 winner Duncan Peters of the University of Connecticut. Peters was the first-ever Cacchione recipient and was on hand to see the second incarnation of the cup retired. Though Peters was not on hand for the 2010 Cacchione awards several other prior winners were a few feet from the 31 competitors on May 8th. Noted equestrian sculptor Kathryn Capley designed the new Cacchione Cup over a three-month period and for the moment only Sceats name - and the Cacchione name - will be listed on it.

---Kate Heisler

Results from the 2010 IHSA Nationals Cacchione Cup Competition, held May 7th and 8th inside the Indoor Equestrian Event Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. The Judges for all hunter seat classes at 2010 IHSA Nationals were Don Stewart and Susie Scholellkopf.

Combined Fences Scores, followed by Combined Flat Scores and the averages of these phases before the work-off:

Kelse Bonham, Savannah College of Art & Design - 82/90 (86 average)

Mary Bungum, St. Mary of the Woods College - 67/85 (76 average)

Melanie Christensen, Seattle University - 68/85.5 (76.75 average)

Ali Cibon, University of Kentucky - 83/91 (87 average)

Nicole DiCorti, Lake Erie College - 69/83 (76 average)

Rori Fiebert, Washington University in St. Louis - 78/84.75 (81.37 average)

Mary Margaret Fly, University of Findlay - 73/89.5 (81.25 average)

Katie Furches, Hollins University - 74.5/86.5 (80.5 average)

Amanda Gelderman, University of Montana Western - 74/81 (77.5 average)

Elizabeth Gilberti, Brown University - 84/84 (84 average)

Erica Green, Washington & Jefferson College - 81/87.5 (84.25 average)

Reese Green, University of Vermont - 77/86 (81.5 average)

Brittany Henson, University of Nevada at Reno - 79/88.5 (83.75 average)

Andrea Heinzman, Kutztown University - 72/88 (80 average)

Elizabeth Kigin, Skidmore College - 88/82.5 (85.25 average)

Melina Laroussi, University of South Carolina - 80/82 (81 avg.)

Elizabeth Lubrano, Penn State University (State College) - 83.5/92 (87.75 avg.)

Lindsay Maxwell, University of the South - 75/82 (78.5 avg.)

Eileen McNamara, Wheaton College - 79.5/80.5 (80 avg.)

Ashley Miller, Virginia Intermont College - 87/89 (88 avg.)

Ben Miller, Western Michigan University - 72.5/81 (76.75 avg.)

Lindsey Mohr, Centenary College - 86/90 (88 avg.)

Emily Pope, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - 76/83 (79.5 avg.)

Terence Prunty, Delaware Valley College - 82.5/88 (85.25 avg.)

Elysse Ruschmeyer, Fairfield University - 84.5/84 (84.25 avg.)

Lindsay Sceats, Mount Holyoke College - 89/86 (87.5 avg.)

Tristin Schramm, Cal State - Fullerton - 60/84.5 (72.25 avg.)

Suzanne Snyder, St. Lawrence University - 78.5/87 (82.75 avg.)

Emily Taylor, Louisiana State University - 77.5/80 (78.75 avg.)

Katherine Wallace, College of William & Mary - 0/81.5 (40.75 avg.)

Elizabeth Webb, University of Wyoming - 85/90.5 (87.75 avg.)


1. Lindsay Sceats, Mount Holyoke College

2. Kelse Bonham, Savannah College of Art & Design

3. Elizabeth Lubrano, Penn State University (State College)

4. Elizabeth Webb, University of Wyoming

5. Lindsey Mohr, Centenary College

6. Elizabeth Kigin, Skidmore College

7. Ashley Miller, Virginia Intermont College

8. Ali Cibon, University of Kentucky

9. Elizabeth Gilberti, Brown University

10. Brittany Henson, University of Nevada at Reno


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