Twenty-two year-old Novice Amateur Cassandra Madaras hasn't had much luck the past few years....but it seems the tide is finally turning in her favor. The Ohio native and her horse, Awe Shes Invited (Sophie), placed seventh in the Novice Amateur Showmanship at the East Coast Novice Championship out of 198 entries! Quite an accomplishment considering Madaras almost lost Sophie to a fast-acting, highly fatal disease a few years ago.
"I am so excited to have placed in the top 10 at the first-ever Novice Championship Show," Cassandra told GoHorseShow back at her stalls at the Miller Coliseum. "I had a really nice go in the finals, and I'm excited that all of our hard work and perseverance finally paid off."
Madaras is under the supervision of Tom Hall and Barbie Valentine and also has a huge cheerleader in her mother, Lisa Busch, at all the shows.
Looking at this radiant team now, you never would have guessed the traumatic events they had to overcome to be able to show again. In the fall of 2008, two of Cassandra's horses including Sophie, contracted botulism. Unfortunately, the other horse rapidly succumbed to the disease before anything could be done. In a panic, Madaras rushed Sophie to Ohio State University where the veterinarians gave her a ten percent chance to survive. Luckily, Sophie made it out alive.
After one and a half weeks at OSU, a $2500 toxin, and a huge vet bill, the Ohio family was finally able to bring the mare home. Her illness caused her to lose a dangerous amount of weight as well as causing her right eye to sink in---giving her limited sight range. (pictured left--Cassandra and Sophie at OSU)
Sophie was bound to stall rest for six weeks which resulted in the duo missing the Congress that year. Despite not being able to show, Cassandra, the Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana (OMI) Youth President at the time, still attended the Congress to support some of her teammates. While at the Congress, Madaras received some more unfortunate news when she was notified that her family's house was on a fire and it was almost a complete loss.
Despite these setbacks, Cassandra and her family pushed forward, and she worked to get back on her feet and Sophie back in the show arena. It took nearly a year for Sophie to recover but Cassandra was determined to show her again.
Now four years later, the duo has received their ROM in the Showmanship and noviced out of showmanship. The team was also a finalist at last year's Congress in the Novice Amateur Showmanship. They are looking to better their placings at this year's show.
"It took along time to get Sophie back to where she was showing wise," says Madaras. "Botulism is not a small matter and is very deadly. It took a lot of patience from everyone, especially my trainers, who could have easily told me to get rid of her and find myself another horse or let her be a broodmare--but I was never giving up on her. I knew we had something special--she's a fighter and she has a forever home with our family."