Smith College Equestrians Celebrate the Career of Sue Payne



Sue Payne (center front with red scarf) with attendees of the reception.
Photo by Ciara Lawrence.

Northampton, Mass. – Dec. 7, 2017 – The Smith College Department of Athletics and Recreation celebrated the career of Sue Payne with a dinner Saturday evening. More than 75 alumnae, friends, family and colleagues came together to honor Payne for an accomplished 40-year career. Smith College Director of Athletics Kristin Hughes presented Payne with a Smith College commemorative chair.  Words of appreciation were delivered by guests including Bob Cacchione, Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) founder and executive director, Tracy Farnham, the former equestrian coach at UMass and Payne’s students from graduating classes 1973 through 2019.

“I feel truly blessed to have had a 43-year career at Smith which enabled me to combine my love of horses and riding with my passion for coaching and teaching,” Payne said. “I will always cherish the life-long friendships and memories made with so many wonderful people.”

Payne began directing the Smith College riding program in the 1970s and has coached the team since 1981. She has been a member of the IHSA board of directors since 1989 as president of Zone I, Region III and served as chair of the personnel committee since its inception. In 2000, Payne received the highest tribute from her peers – the IHSA Lifetime Achievement Award.

Sue Payne holds her dog Keeva with her husband Bill Payne, Bob Cacchione IHSA founder and executive director and CJ Law, Mt Holyoke IHSA coach and board member at Ithe 2017 IHSA Nationals Championship Show at the Kentucky Horse Park. Photo by Tyler VanVelsen.

During her career, Payne sent two high-point teams to the IHSA Nationals and coached two Cacchione Cup riders. Her program yielded two individual national champions and four reserve champions and numerous others who placed in the top 10. She is a lifetime member of US Equestrian and United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) and served as past president of the Pioneer Valley Equine Association. When not in the classroom, she taught riding at her home-based farm and took students to shows all over New England.

As a junior, Payne and competed successfully in the equitation divisions and trained with Capt. T. Fred Marsman at the Dana Hall School. Later, she showed hunters and jumpers. She credits Marsman for the basis of her schooling program inspired by a classical dressage foundation. Payne is known as a gifted trainer of young horses. She raised and trained many young horses including two horses born at the Smith College Equestrian Center. She is a passionate teacher and says that coaching riders of all levels was the most rewarding aspect of her career. Payne lives in Northampton with her husband, Bill and her Jack Russell terrier, Keeva.

“For 40-plus years, Sue has selflessly given so much to the entire Smith equestrian community,” said Jessica Hatch, who graduated from Smith in 2005. “It was important for students, alumnae, colleagues, and friends to say thank you for Sue’s incredible contribution as a coach, leader and part of the Smith College community.”

Smith equestrian alumnae Jessica Hatch and Deebie Symmes ’81, who were both instrumental in the planning of the event, presented Payne with a memory book at the conclusion of the evening.