Judging the USEF/Cacchione Cup | A Conversation with the 2022 IHSA Nationals Judges Todd Karn and Tom Brennan


Judges Tom Brennan (left) and Todd Karn (right) watching a rider on course during the USEF/Cacchione.
Photo by Maddy Falkowitz/EQ Media 


We thought this was a really good group of riders and horses. The top rider was seven points ahead going in,” said judge Todd Karn. “We felt that she deserved to stay there. She has a lot of style, and everybody rode really well. The horses were great and the tests sort of unfolded the way we thought it would. It was good.”

“I agree,” said Tom Brennan. “We purposefully didn’t let them walk the course ahead of time. I thought they all chose different options that suited them and their horse. One girl even made a circle to start, which I thought was really smart. She went through the bushes to make sure there was no issue there. The people that cantered directly to the first jump also did it beautifully. I thought they all made use of the freedom we gave them to show off what they thought they could or couldn't do. The girl who won appeared to be on the greenest horse. She did a great job with him.

“We were very impressed from the last time we have seen an IHSA Nationals. The caliber of riding and horses has skyrocketed. It's really impressive.

“This is a very horse-friendly experience for them, which I think has always been a component of IHSA. It's making sure that they're taken care of.”

“The schooling committee went above and beyond,” shared Karn. “They watched the horses at early hours every morning and made sure they were suited for what we wanted them for. It was perfect. Everybody worked together.” 

“They let us pick the horses we wanted, not who rode them, but what horses were included,” Brennan said. “All six came in with their ears up. They looked stridey, they looked confident, they looked comfortable. I think that's a testament to the program working. We both said, we'd take a few of those horses home!” 

Bob Cacchione with Hunter Seat Judges Tom Brennan and Todd Karn - Credit EQ Media
IHSA Founder Bob Cacchione with hunter seat judges Tom Brennan and Todd Karn.
Photo by EQ Media