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April 4, 2008

Free Rein With: Bob Cacchione

Executive director of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, the organization he founded in 1967 while a sophomore at Fairleigh Dickinson University (N.J.), Bob Cacchione has dedicated his life to enthusiastically supporting the development of the IHSA. The organization now encompasses 31 regions, 355 schools and more than 7,600 riders.

Name: Bob Cacchione               
Home Base: Fairfield, Conn.            
Age: 59 (Age is an attitude; I get my strength from the kids.)

Describe your first horse.
When I was 6, my dad leased two ponies for the winter. I got home from school, saw these two Thelwell ponies, dropped my bike and ran in the corral. I was immediately kicked in the stomach by a brown-and-white pony named Tiny. I was lying on the ground screaming, and the guy picked me up, put me on the pony and slapped him on the butt. He trotted down to an apple tree; a branch hit me in the chest and knocked me off. They put me back on, and I haven’t been off a horse since.

What horse would you love the chance to have a turn on?
I would love to be on Authentic sometime. The credentials of that horse—with Beezie [Madden, a former IHSA rider] riding it all these years—the power of that animal, the magnificence. It would be breathtaking to experience something like that.
 
Other than the IHSA, what or who is the greatest love of your life?

There’s a young lady, whom I’m now seeing, Becky Hall Morehouse, who is the love of my life. I met her years ago when she actually rode IHSA and we instantly became friends. I love the doors that the Intercollegiate opens for people, not just me.

What’s your favorite drink?
Martinis are becoming my favorite right now, especially Godiva martinis.

What’s been one of the biggest rewards for your involvement with the IHSA?
It’s not a job for me, and I don’t get paid for doing it; it’s an enjoyment. When you see something that you helped create, because there are so many people along the way to help make this happen, grow from six riders who were your friends and classmates in school and see what it is today, it can’t get any better.

What’s the most important part of what you do for the IHSA?
I help bring people together.

What’s the best job you’ve had outside the IHSA?
Cartier [from 1973-1988]. I was given the opportunity to create from scratch the wholesale division “Les Must de Cartier,” which is grammatically incorrect but means “the items you must have from Cartier.” 

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to promote the IHSA?
When I was in college in Teaneck, N.J., a river ran right through campus, and I had the riding kids in their riding clothes raft down the river during afternoon classes with me and a guy playing some drums while holding an IHSA banner advertising our horse show coming up that weekend.

What’s the biggest misconception people have about you?

They think I flirt a lot and date a lot. I hug every female rider and their moms at these shows, but that goes with the territory; to me it’s not flirting, it’s part of the show!

What’s a random fact people don’t know about you?
I once foxhunted with Jackie O.

What’s your favorite non-IHSA equine event or venue?
The National Horse Show when it was in New York City. When I was with Cartier, on opening night I would escort their guests, once Andy Warhol.

What’s the best decision you’ve ever made?
To go to college. My parents had four kids’ college to pay for within a seven-year period, and my father told me I had to stop riding to go to college. I wanted to pick horses, but he said no!

How many IHSA events or shows do you attend in an average year?

About 18 to 20, often two shows a weekend, almost every weekend of the season.

What wardrobe item are you most known for?

My pocket square.

What’s your personal motto?

You create your own excitement.

What’s your most treasured memory involving horses?
When Greg Best won the silver medal with Gem Twist in the Seoul Olympics. Two years prior, he was riding Intercollegiate after he started the club at the University of Pennsylvania. After all the dust settled, he came up to me and said, “Thank you for being here, and thank you for being part of this.” It meant so much to me.

What trait do you value most in a horse?
Intuitiveness.

In a human?
It’s easy to say love, but there’s got to be another word. Respect.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I see myself with a partner for life—and that’s not the IHSA—a soul mate for life.


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IHSA