From the Paddock
Story by Cynthia McFarland • Photos by Joshua Jacobs
Living Her Dream
When Ponies Turn into Performance
It all started with a pony ride at the Sonoma County Fair. “My grandparents introduced me to horses when I was just two. I have pictures of me on a pony being led in a circle. I didn’t want to get off, and I’ve been horse-crazy ever since,” smiles Sadé Cain, 35.
Born in California, Sadé was raised by her two grandmothers, who provided a non-traditional, but very stable, enriching childhood. When her obsession with horses didn’t fade after the family moved to New Jersey, her grandmothers found a stable that would allow Sadé to take lessons, starting at age four. “I took lessons at Hadafarm in Trenton until second grade,” recalls Sadé, who also learned to groom and tack up the ponies. “I started riding in a Western saddle, but that was short-lived, because I was watching other kids go over jumps.”
By 1991, she was taking hunter lessons at Dun Cravin Farm, also in Trenton. Her first show that wasn’t on a lead line was at age six. Every summer, she was immersed in horse camp. “I just knew I wanted to be on a horse,” she declares.
“Growing up, most of my friends rode, but it faded when they got to be teenagers. Not me. I always either worked at a barn for lessons or to keep my horses there,” says Sadé, who got her first horse at age 12.
After getting her Associate of Science degree in Equine Science, Sadé devoted all her energies to riding, showing in both dressage and eventing, two uniquely different—and challenging—disciplines.
“Dressage is so classical and refined, while eventing is so free and whatever happens, happens,” she explains. “The good foundation I got helped me be more stable and confident in my jumping.”
As an adult, Sadé moved back to California for a time. It was there, in 2009, that she imported a talented Lusitano stallion from Brazil, which she showed in both dressage and eventing.
Settling in Ocala
In 2017, Sadé relocated to Ocala, specifically because of a horse she was riding at the time.
She worked at Tack Shack of Ocala for several years, but while she enjoyed the retail aspect, Sadé always wanted to be part of a dressage training barn. That door of opportunity opened for her during the pandemic. “Dressage trainer Eline Eckroth offered me a job, and I knew the minute I walked into the barn that this was the caliber of place I was looking for,” says Sadé.
Since December 2020, she has been barn manager at Connie Wise’s Crane Hill Farm in Ocala, where Eline trains. Sadé’s days are busy caring for the nearly two dozen horses: managing vet and farrier appointments, prepping horses for clients who come to train with Eline, and much more.
Even better, the farm is just minutes from the barn where she operates her own business, Orange Eventing & Training. Here, she teaches lessons and trains and sells horses. “People never stopped buying horses during the pandemic,” she affirms. “People send me sales horses; I sold seven during the pandemic. It never slowed down.”
In addition to her paying jobs, Sadé is constantly working on her own riding goals, honing her skills and preparing for the next competition. “It’s a good blend for me,” she says, admitting her daily routine didn’t really change during the pandemic, since her work is outdoors. “What it did was teach me a lot of patience and to value my time a little better, so I’m not just running seven days a week. The pandemic taught me about categorizing my time, so I could be the best me every day without burning out.”
While her days are mostly dedicated to all things equestrian, Sadé has two beloved Welsh Corgis—Blueberry and Cocoberry. A self-professed “space nerd,” she enjoys using her telescope, and she likes to write.
Riding now is mostly about preparing for a competition, and Sadé likes it that way. “I love to compete. Throughout my life, competition has always been a goal for me, but it’s also expensive. Now, I have more opportunities to pursue it,” she enthuses. “When I have a show on the calendar, it gives me a goal, and a structured riding plan day to day. It shows me where my horse and I need more work.”
Although Sadé has owned numerous horses through the years, she’s currently riding and showing clients’ horses. She is working towards achieving her silver medal in dressage and getting to the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) level of refinement. She also hopes to qualify for the American Eventing Championships.
“Horses have taught me consistency and given me a reason to live. I have motivation and a passion to do this every day,” says Sadé Cain. “I’m living my dream. I can see there is more to come, and it’s attainable for me to get there.”