By Mackenzie Shulman
As soon as I got on the phone with Paige Cade, who was on the opposite end of the country from me at her Country Fox Farm in northern Virginia, I knew she was someone special. I found her to be passionate, honest and hilarious.
Cade, who grew up in Virginia Beach, Va., has been riding her whole life. As a kid, she trained with Chris Wynne and Joanie Marsh. She attended Hollins University (Va.) and rode on their equestrian team under Sandy Gerald.
She didn’t necessarily plan on becoming a professional, and she tried to do other things outside of the horse world when she graduated from college.
“For whatever reason, the door closed for those other opportunities, and kept opening for the horses,” Cade recalled.
The same day she received her final rejection notice from veterinary school, she got a call from a barn in Middleburg, Va., wanting her as a riding assistant. No matter where she turned, opportunities were everywhere.
So Cade took these opportunities and made the best of them. Just last April she began to work on her own; training clients’ horses as well as buying and selling horses for a profit. The number of horses she has at her farm is ever changing, as new horses are always coming in, and others are sold or leased out. However, her success has certainly not come without hard work.
“People often ask me, ‘oh when are you going to get a real job?’ and I always say that though it involves knee deep snow and trying to find where to put manure, I would not want anything different on my Monday morning,” she said, emphasizing the difficult nature of owning a farm.
Cade, 29, has done all she can to make the best out of everything that comes her way.
“You hit a feeling at a certain point, where you want to move up the levels, but you can’t afford the horses that are going and doing it all, and that’s the frustration that you feel sometimes,” she said.
She told a story about a horse who just told her ‘no,’ and the difficulties of having to realize that the horse didn’t want to be a show jumper. However, while this was a low, she found a way to bounce back. She ended up selling this horse and finding him a good home, and was able to connect with the buying family. There, a friendship was born.
“I really like my horses, and I really make an effort to keep up with what they’re doing,” she said. “I send the new owners regular messages to ask how they are doing and how the horse is.”
This personal and connected relationship Cade creates with buyers and leasers makes her unique within the horse industry.
While Cade works a lot outside of the show ring, she also competes her horses all over the AA circuits. She trains often with Joe Fargis, and recently, Cade leased a horse named Fuerst Aphrodites R from Gail Dady to get more ring time in the 1.30-meter jumpers. She made the decision to take “Fiona” down to Ocala for a few weeks, where she gained experience—and had fun.
This was a milestone in Cade’s career, as in the past, it seemed that one thing or another would always impede her show jumping aspirations. However, Cade has always stayed positive, and, as a result, her dreams are coming true.
“This was a huge jump for me, and I am still riding on air from that,” she said. “It was a huge high point for me out of all the lows…this is my job, and I love it, and I wouldn’t change it any day.”
This is the first in a series called “The New Guard,” in which The Plaid Horse profiles young and upcoming trainers around the country who are making strides in their professional career. Do you know someone whose story falls along these lines? Let us know! Email [email protected] or contact us on Facebook.