IHSA Alumnus Michael Golinowski Honored with Top Spot in the Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund/USHJA EAP National Training Session

Michael Golinowski and Tangelos at 2022 EAP National Training Session. Photo by Rachel Milewski/USHJA

Gladys, Va. – Nov. 19, 2022 – After years of hard work and dedication, Michael Golinowski earned top marks at the 2022 Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund/USHJA Emerging Athletes Program (EAP) National Training Session. The National Session took place November 10-13, 2022 at the University of Findlay's James L. Child, Jr. English Equestrian Center in Findlay, Ohio.

"It feels absolutely incredible to have won EAP this year," Golinowski said. "To win the whole thing at Nationals is a really incredible feeling to know that so many people believe in you and see talent.”

As a high school senior, Golinowski was selected as the 2017 EAP National Training Session stable manager while also participating and riding in the session. After the national session, Golinowski was invited to what is now the USEF Horsemastership Training Session in Wellington, Florida. “That was a huge opportunity. No riding involved, but that was such a high level of sport that I'd never even come close to. Watching those riders and listening to them get their lessons from Anne Kursinski, Kent Farrington, McLain Ward, and then getting to go to some of the farms (to see) how those massive top-notch programs are (run) was incredible,” Golinowski reminisced.
In 2018, Golinowski was invited to return as the EAP National Training Session stable manager but declined the position in order to focus on his studies at Bridgewater College in Bridgewater, Virginia. As a freshman, he was a member of Bridgewater’s Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) team, where, without much of a show record, the coach placed him in the Open level.

“It was a big learning curve freshman year, but it ended with a bang when I got to win the one and only IHSA Metropolitan Equitation Invitational (at the Longines Masters New York),” he said.

The IHSA Metropolitan Equitation Invitational was held at the Longines Masters New York at NYCB Live, Home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, in Uniondale, New York on April 26, 2019. Organized by Centenary University IHSA team co-coach Michael Dowling, it featured IHSA-style catch-riding in a hunter seat equitation jumping and flat phase not typically showcased at a major FEI competition.

Golinowski continues to be grateful for the opportunity to compete at such a prestigious and well-attended event. “It was an incredible thing. My sister, parents and some extended family from New York got to watch, and every time I'm home with my sister, she still wants to pull up the video and make us watch it because it was such an incredible memory for the whole family,” Golinowski shared. He shared that the Scott Stewart signature Equiline saddle he won in the IHSA class at Longines Masters is the same saddle that he rides multiple horses a day in today.

Michael Golinowski- Metropolitan Equitation Invitational
Michael Golinowski at the 2019 IHSA Metropolitan Equitation Invitational. Photo by Sportfot

After his storybook freshman year of riding at Bridgewater, Golinowski’s sophomore year had a rough beginning with a riding accident during a competition. After healing from the broken nose and concussion, he started riding on the college’s dressage team, but the championships were canceled with the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

During his junior year, there were continued COVID-19 restrictions on competing against outside schools. “I was still part of the IHSA team, even though there were no competitions, but still practicing and trying to be a member,” he said.

With the lack of shows and knowing he wouldn’t be able to ride for the college during his senior year, Golinowski decided it was time to focus on his horses and competing with them. “I needed to focus my time on the horses that I was responsible for. Unfortunately, I have to say (my IHSA) career got cut a little short,” he shared.

Throughout his college career, Golinowski made connections and established himself as a hard worker with excellent horsemanship and riding skills, which were noticed in 2017 and 2018 through the EAP. With plans of graduating from Bridgewater College in the spring of 2022, Golinowski applied for the 2022 EAP training sessions. He was selected to ride at the training session at Sweet Briar College and was then selected to ride at the EAP Nationals.

Michael Golinowski at the 2022 EAP National Training Session. Photo by Rachel Milewski/USHJA

“I felt pretty confident going into EAP this past summer and I was fortunate enough (that) they invited (me) to go to Nationals. Since I had the experience of being at Nationals as a stable manager, I was in a really good position to try to impress everyone in the saddle. I knew how to have the right attitude so I could really focus on putting my best foot forward while I was in the tack and it all worked out,” he said.

Lead Riding Clinician and Olympian Peter Wylde was quick to notice Golinowski’s skill at EAP Nationals. "Michael really was at the top in all the different areas. His riding is fantastic, when he was in the stable I think he was impressive, and his written test was exceptionally good," Wylde commented. "Overall, he's the whole package and so we were very, very happy to award him with this year's EAP National Champion." In addition to Wylde’s many accomplishments, he was the IHSA Cacchione Cup winner in 1986 as a member of Tufts University’s IHSA team.

Golinowski credits his ability to catch-ride and problem-solve with a horse quickly to IHSA. He recently made the move to Katonah, New York, where he works for Michael and Andre Dignelli at Heritage Farm. “I've honed that skill (catch-riding) even more and here at Heritage (there are) over a hundred horses to ride. Your list is changing every day, and (you need) that basis of getting on a horse and learning that horse as fast as possible,” Golinowski said.

“I’ve always appreciated (IHSA) for the even ground between men and women. All the young men like me out there are really trying to work hard and find our own way to get in the show ring, even if we don't have the financial backing. When the school supports a good program, it's open to everybody. Anybody that wants to sit on a horse, at every level has that opportunity. IHSA, in my opinion, has opportunities for growth for all riders.”

Includes excerpts from the USHJA press release.