From Contest Winner to USEF Dream Job

A winning 250-word essay in the Week with the Maddens Contest garners two chances of a lifetime for Katie Faraone.

Katie Faraone | © 2008 by Nancy Jaffer

Katie Faraone was one of two winners in the first “Week with the Maddens” contest, sponsored by Bates Saddles, Practical Horseman magazine and the Syracuse Invitational Sporthorse Tournament. Her prize included a trip to the Syracuse Invitational in New York, a Bates saddle and a week spent living, working with and learning from Olympian Beezie Madden and her husband, trainer John Madden, in Wellington, Fla., in January 2008.

But you never know where these things can take you: During her week in Florida, Katie met Sally Ike, the U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF) managing director of show jumping. Sally told her daughter, Sara, the USEF managing director of eventing, about Katie. After an interview, Sara offered Katie a job as her assistant. Katie relocated from Massachusetts to the U.S. Equestrian Team’s headquarters in Gladstone, N.J.

Here is Katie’s winning essay in the 2007 contest.

I belong to a demographic that is a twilight zone for competitive riders: the 20s. At all of the barns I’ve ridden at in my 13 years with horses, there have been scores of teenagers and 30-somethings. Most people in my age range do not have the luxury of “parental sponsorship” or discretionary income. Add in the pressures of stressful jobs, continuing education, student loans and other debt, and it’s easy to see why most people take a break from riding after college. I want to ride with the Maddens because it’s a rare chance for a rare species to improve their riding. What rare species? The 20-something riders! I am 26 and work 50 hours/week in an area that isn’t exactly farm country–Boston. I was lucky to find a barn with quality sale horses to ride six days/week. Even though I leave my house at 7 a.m. and don’t get home until 10 p.m., I am thrilled to have the opportunity. I am not currently financially able to attend clinics or shows, but I miss my junior days of intense training. Training with the Maddens would be a great reward to my dedication and also a great motivator for the future.

The Week with the Maddens contest is once again being held this year. Register for your chance to win before August 1, 2008.

To read about Katie’s experiences from winning the contest, her time spent with the Maddens and her new dream job, see “My Life” in the July 2008 issue of Practical Horseman. You can also read Katie’s daily reports from her week with the Maddens here on

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