Sunday, Apr. 14, 2024

Cathy Ann Savino-Kedzierski Has Found Her Way Back To Horses

Part of the Chronicle’s new social network, www.chronicleofmyhorse.com, she’s gotten back in the saddle.

Cathy Ann Savino-Kedzierski hadn’t had a horse for more than 17 years when the off-the-track Thoroughbred Class Always Shows came into her life in 2006.
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Part of the Chronicle’s new social network, www.chronicleofmyhorse.com, she’s gotten back in the saddle.

Cathy Ann Savino-Kedzierski hadn’t had a horse for more than 17 years when the off-the-track Thoroughbred Class Always Shows came into her life in 2006.

“I am what I call a ‘re-rider,’ ” said Savino-Kedzierski, 50. “As a result of that wide time gap, I had forgotten much of what it takes to own an animal of such magnitude, plus I had to re-buy everything. I had to re-learn everything!”

Savino-Kedzierski, of Milford, Mass., started riding at age 6. Horses were a part of her family’s life, since they were involved in race horses.

“I rode all through school and ultimately always wanted a Thoroughbred. My father kept sticking me with slow, pokey Paints,” she said. “Finally, when I got older, I made the decision for myself and started buying horses off the track.”

Savino-Kedzierski dabbled in showing and lower level eventing.

But then Savino-Kedzierski started a family and decided to attend law school. “I had a full-time job and was going to school, and my son was young. It was just too much—I had to sell my horse. It was devastating, but I had no choice,” she said.

After more than 17 years of concentrating on her family and career, in 2006 Savino-Kedzierski finally found herself in a situation where owning a horse was possible again. She started volunteering for the Communication Alliance to Network Thoroughbred Ex-Racehorses.

“I looked at a lot of horses on the track, but I really thought it wasn’t time for me to start one fresh off the track again,” she said.

Establishing Connections

On her journey back into the saddle, Savino-Kedzierski found the social network site Chronicle of My Horse (www.chronicleofmyhorse.com).

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“Chronicle of My Horse has been a much-needed boost for bringing equestrians together, people who wouldn’t actually meet in other venues,” Savino-Kedzierski said. “It has given folks from different parts of the country the ability to reach out and introduce themselves as well as immediately being able to know what type of discipline said person rides, a little about who they are, photos of their horses and frankly, the ability to learn from others that may be more experienced than yourself.

“Truly speaking, I never thought that I would meet so many interesting people nor did I think that I would begin to form what I believe are going to be real friendships with such knowledgeable, unique and fascinating people.”

Eventually, she found Class Always Shows, or “Valie,” who had spent some time at a volunteer’s farm after retiring from racing. “I went to meet him, and it was love at first sight,” she said. “Honestly speaking, he is sane, sound, quiet and lovable. He has not taken one dishonest step with me.”

The owners of the barn where she boards Valie were very helpful. “If it had not been for Michael and Elizabeth Murphy, I would have hopelessly floundered like a fish out of water. Their patience, guidance, knowledge and training for both Valie and me made for an easy transition into being an owner-rider again.”

Savino-Kedzierski hopes to eventually enter some dressage shows, “but I’m not at the stage in my life anymore where I really want to jump much,” Savino-Kedzierski said.

While horses had to take a back seat for a while, Savino-Kedzierski has pursued her other passion—breeding, training and showing pointing dogs—her whole life. “I train and compete heavily with German Shorthair Pointers and Brittany Spaniels, and I breed German Shorthairs,” Savino-Kedzierski said.

With her dogs, Savino-Kedzierski competes in American Kennel Club field trialing, AKC hunt testing and North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association trials. “Spring and fall of every year I’m going pretty much every weekend with the dogs. There are a lot of parallels to horse shows. You have to pack all the equipment, enter and prepare,” she said.

At the AKC field trials, Savino-Kedzierski rides borrowed Tennessee Walking Horses to follow her dogs. “The funny thing is that at these competitions, no one wears a helmet when they ride. So, I’m the only one with a helmet on, and I have a blaze-orange helmet cover!” she said. “I’m thinking of breaking my horse to the gun this year, since he’s so quiet, and I’ll probably be the first person to go AKC field trialing on a Thoroughbred.”

Working with her dogs gives Savino-Kedzierski a sense of satisfaction not unlike that she finds in the barn with her horse. “Aside from the fun of competition, I’m an old-fashioned foot-hunter, and there’s nothing more rewarding to me than being out early in the morning with one of my gun dogs,” she said.

How Does She Get It All Done?

Savino-Kedzierski packs a lot into 24 hours. She wakes up at the crack of dawn to work with her dogs. “I go to a local wildlife management area and work and train two dogs. That takes me two to three hours. It’s just like riding—you want to end on a good note, so sometimes it takes a little longer than you think,” Savino-Kedzierski said.

“Once I get home, I tend to my mother and my aunt. I have a home office, so then I set about the business of working. It’s difficult to work at home because your friends seem to think you can drop what you’re doing at any time. I’ve had to develop a very strong work ethic, and I tell people they can’t call me while I’m working. I work until about 3 p.m.

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“During the course of the day, I make sure my aunt and mother are OK, and I let the dogs out. Late in the afternoon, I head out to the barn and spend two or three hours there. But I always have to make sure I leave by 8 because I always have to make a drugstore and grocery run. I’m usually back home by 10, and I collapse and fall asleep in front of the computer or in a chair,” Savino-Kedzierski said.

“Because I am able to get to the barn during the week, I usually take the weekends off. It’s better because the barn is so busy on the weekends. I’ll go to the barn and I’ll spend time with Valie, but I don’t ride much on the weekends.”

“I can’t even begin to articulate what an incredible experience it is to watch these pointing breed dogs do what’s so inherent and instinctual to them. There’s nothing more peaceful than an early morning when it’s beautiful and quiet. I love walking along and watching the dog begin to scent and go on point. It’s a thing of beauty. Because my life is so chaotic, this kind of release for me is very important. It gives me peace of mind and relaxes me.”

Savino-Kedzierski keeps two working dogs at her home and some breeding stock at a nearby kennel.

“I have a very chaotic life, but I still manage to get to the barn and ride at least five days a week. I don’t know how I manage that, but I do. Everyone likes to say that I wake up with the Windex bottle in my hand because I’m a clean freak,” Savino-Kedzierski said. “I have no complaints. I’m the kind of person who wakes up in the morning happy.”

 After graduating from law school, Savino-Kedzierski, who is now divorced, decided to concentrate on social service law. “In 1996, I decided to become self-employed, and I found an area of the law that would give me the ability to pursue dogs and horses, eventually,” she said.

Much of her work focuses on helping indigent adults and disabled children get benefits from the government. “This kind of work is cyclical,” she said. “When you start a case, it can take anywhere from six months to a year to settle. I set up a home office, so I can come and go as I please, which is great because if I couldn’t do that, I’d probably be in a rest home.”

Savino-Kedzierski’s home life also involves her elderly mother and aunt, who require attention and care. 

“It’s a lot of responsibility, but it’s something I do gladly,” Savino-Kedzierski said.

And this year brought yet another new role—that of grandmother. “There’s a lot going on in my life, but my life is just like I’d hoped it would be at this stage. I never thought it would be like this because I’ve had a lot of chaos in my life, but now I couldn’t be happier,” Savino-Kedzierski said. 

Molly Sorge

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