Rider Connect from Bit of Britain: Caty Nolan

Caty Nolan & Man of Conviction



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Rider Connect from Bit of Britain: Caty Nolan

Today’s featured rider is Caty Nolan, a junior rider who is successfully working towards accomplishing some big goals.

If you would like to be featured in Rider Connect, email me.


Get to know Caty
I am 15-years-old and I live in Unionville, PA and attend Unionville High school. I started with horses around the age of seven, my sister Erin Nolan spent countless hours at a barn across from my house riding horses, so soon enough she brought me along with her and stuck me on one of the ponies she was riding at the time. She did all types of shows, but eventually, she put all of her focus towards Eventing, so she was the one to introduce me to the sport. After being Erin’s groom at events I decided to start the sport myself, so around the age of 11 I began Eventing. I am currently competing at the Preliminary and one-star level. If Bromont goes well, I’m going to seek approval of the USEA (because of my age) to move up to the Intermediate level for the remainder of this season! Long term, I’m eventually looking to go to the Olympics, and numerous four-star events around the world. Along with Eventing, in the long run if I could get the opportunity to do some jumpers as well I think that would be a great experience, and improve my riding greatly.

Caty’s horse power
My horse’s name is Man of Conviction, his original barn name was Convict, but we’ve all grown to call him Connie. He is a 14-year-old Thoroughbred gelding. Convict was my second horse, before him I had a pony named Taddie that I walked and trotted circles on. Eventually his talent exceeded mine, and he was sold to a kid that did a bit more then walk and trot in a circle. After him, I began riding my sister’s different event horses, and riding my friends horses. My sister then found Convict for me, as her good friend owned him at the time.

In 2014, after trying Convict and almost being bucked off a couple times I decided that he was the horse I wanted to have. The challenges that I have with Convict are mostly in dressage and show jumping. I struggle to keep Convict loose, light, and working through his body on the flat, this makes getting good scores in dressage hard, but it is very rewarding when it goes well. Showjumping has generally been pretty good for us in the past, however, it is a challenging ride due to his large jump and his spook. He spooks at the jump fillers, and then already with his large jump he hovers in the air for a long time. This makes the time difficult to make in any show jump round. Although we have these difficulties, it is easy to see that Convict always tries his hardest for me, and he always seems to be pushing himself to be better then he is. In the barn he is extremely calm and quiet in mostly all situations. His favorite treats are mainly ginger snaps and carrots, but he really likes any treats that he’s given. Convict switches between my barn at home, and Erin Sylvester’s barn depending on my show schedule during the season.

Although both of them have helped me in all three phases multiple times, I currently do show jumping and cross-country training with Erin Sylvester and dressage with Sally Lofting. Training is always a bit crowded with my schoolwork and other sports schedule, but I always find time for it. In the fall I was a part of the tennis team. This team was very competitive and serious, and I was often not home every day until seven or eight at night. I would mostly be down at the barn at five in the morning before school, but I was still actively competing and training in the fall as much as the other months.

In the winter, I was lucky enough to go down to Aiken, SC to live there and focus on Eventing. Spring and summer, I am actively riding and competing throughout both seasons. I try and give Convict a few shorter breaks throughout the season. For longer breaks, he is getting about three weeks off after Bromont in June, and he will get another longer break after the fall season is over.



Influence and inspiration
So many people have influenced, inspired, and taught me throughout my riding career. Erin Nolan, my older sister introduced me to the whole sport. She was the first person to put me on a pony and the first person to take me to an event. She gave me the opportunities to ride so many different horses, and she even let me groom for her. During this time, I traveled with her to many of her events, I learned along the way and picked up many skills from her. She inspired me to always work hard, and to remember to not take anything for granted.

Sally Lofting was another person that influenced my riding career. She was my first real trainer, she is tough on her students, and that definitely made me a better rider.

Erin Sylvester is the person that has had the greatest impact on me in this sport. She has seen my best and worst moments in eventing, and she has been there to coach and guide me through both sides. I’ve been with her from novice level all the way to where I am now in riding, helping me improve so much in short amounts of time.

Lastly, Joa Sigsbee, Erin Sylvester’s head groom has taught me a huge amount on and off the horse. I’ve learned so much about horse care through Joa, she’s helped me and given me so many tips on keeping Convict in the best care possible. These people, along with more have impacted and helped me progress throughout the years.

Most embarrassing Eventing moment
I would say that my most embarrassing eventing moment was earlier this season at Carolina, I was doing the CIC1*. The cross-country course was pretty challenging already, but I unknowingly skipped about ten jumps during my course walk. I went back to the barns and when people asked me how it looked I told them that there were some tough combinations and big jumps, but a lot less then I anticipated. Later I went on a course walk with my trainer, Erin Sylvester, she started walking a different path then I did earlier and I quickly learned that I skipped a bunch of jumps, and what I thought was the hardest combination on the course was placed in the many jumps that I had missed. After that course walk I took back what I said about the course being less challenging then I thought it was going to be.

Most triumphant Eventing moment
My most triumphant eventing moment was coming in second place at me and Convicts first CCI1* at Virginia last fall. Going into it I didn’t know what to expect, earlier that fall at both me and Convicts first CIC1* at Plantation Field we got eliminated show jumping. At Virginia, we were 4th after dressage which was huge because dressage is very difficult for us, that was easily the best test we ever performed. The cross-country course was the longest and most challenging I’ve seen, we went double clear and held 4th place into stadium the next day.

The next day, when I saw the stadium course I was definitely intimidated. The jumps were bigger and wider than any I have seen at an event. The course was twisty, and the jumps were very decorated which made me a bit nervous. Convict jumped the best that he ever has for me, he didn’t bat an eye at any of the jumps, although his big jump took some time from us, I felt that we were going a fair speed to make up for it. We had a clear round with one-time penalty. I wasn’t really sure if I would move up placing or not but I was taken from 4th place to 2nd place only .20 away from the leader.

2018 milestones
In 2018, I think that my training has gone to the next level. I and Convict are being pushed to be the best we can be, and he has been feeling the best that he’s ever been. For competition earlier in the season we did the CIC1* at Carolina, the whole weekend went really well. Despite one break in the counter canter during dressage, it was a very good test. The cross-country was the hardest that I had ever seen, a lot of horses and riders did not make it around the course clear, so being one of the horse and rider combinations to go clear was a really good feeling. The next day we had a double clear show jump round that I believe was our best to date.

Best of luck this year Caty! 


If you would like to be featured in Rider Connect, email me

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