Catherine Cloud was born in Springfield, Missouri and learned to ride at an early age at McDaniel Stables under the direction of R. E. Lee McDaniel, a well-respected trainer of American Saddlebreds. Her first horse, Oliver Twist, was a three gaited Saddlebred. She gained early show experience at Saturday night shows under lights in small Southwest Missouri towns. When she was fifteen Catherine’s family relocated to Sarasota, Florida. The closest suitable boarding facility for Oliver was the Tampa Yacht Club Stables, 50 miles away. They competed with modest success at that venue and developed as a team but the expense of training, distance from home and impending departure for college eventually resulted in the sale of Oliver Twist.
In the mean time, Catherine’s first paying job was as an assistant riding instructor at Richwood Plantation, a riding camp for girls in Kentucky where about 60 campers rode twice a day. She worked there following her junior and senior years in High School before heading off to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. While there, Catherine rode regularly at a hunter/jumper barn and enjoyed piloting the reliable school horses over stadium and cross-country jumps. After graduating with a degree in English, Catherine travelled the country and lived in seven different states. She worked for the Tulsa Country Club Stables under the direction of Tom Walsh and also for Steve Allred at Spring Hope Stables in Spring Hope, N.C.
While living in North Carolina in 1974, Catherine visited Linda Champion’s Morgan breeding farm. She was immediately attracted to the Morgan breed and was given opportunity and experience with them under Linda’s direction. Linda had selected a foal that went on to become a National Champion Jr. Western pleasure horse and shown another to a National English title. When that mare was sold to a buyer in Winnipeg, Catherine and her husband were hired to drive the horse to its new home. This road trip in November is still one of Catherine’s most dramatic memories. She gained valuable experience as a groom and assistant trainer, attending notable horse shows such as Rock Creek, Lexington Jr. League and Statesville with both Steve Allred and Linda Champion throughout the Southeast. At this time, Linda was the manager of the North Carolina State Fair horse show and Catherine served as assistant, inspiring her long career as a professional show manager.
In 1976 Catherine and her husband moved to northwest Washington and almost immediately took a position as caretakers on an Arlington horse farm. She worked for Jeff Lee, a prominent Arabian trainer, and for Jerry Blake who specialized in Morgans. Under his direction, Catherine expanded her experience with driving and showed client horses in Morgan breed competition. Simultaneously, Catherine began to attract clients of her own and soon became a busy trainer.
Over the years Catherine made a name for herself in the Morgan breed showing World Champions Whitestone Cricket (Trail, 1989) and Rogue Hill Coachman (Dressage, 1992) In 1993 Catherine’s rider Lorinda Massingale rode Rogue Hill Coachman to the 14-17 Hunter Pleasure World Championship. Sitka Spruce, selected as a foal, went on to numerous World titles in Dressage and Carriage Driving in 1993 & 1994. Riders Heather Hale and Haimee Engstrom finished Champion and Reserve in the 13 & Under Western Equitation World Championship in 1996 and Heather was nominated for The Everett Herald Woman of the Year in Sports. As recently as 2005, Sara Cleland took the Walk Trot Hunter Pleasure Reserve World Championship under Catherine’s direction. With only a couple of exceptions, each year that Catherine has taken horses and riders to Oklahoma City they have returned with World titles. Most recently, in 2017 Larriette Oien finished fifth in the Basic Western Dressage World Championship for Amateur/Jr. Exhibitors. Lareiette who is in her 70’s showed all four tests at this level riding side saddle and placed first in test 3 on Catherine’s horse, Jazztime Just Jamaica!
For many years Catherine owned Highover Windsong, a successful breeding stallion. One of his offspring, Sea Cloud Safari, serves as school horse today. Catherine has bred over 20 foals with the Sea Cloud prefix, some of whom have won World titles and all of whom have brought joy and pleasure to their owners. JMF Irish Windsong produced Sea Cloud Cosmo by Astronomicallee in the spring of 2013. He is the youngest horse bearing the Sea Cloud prefix.
Catherine has always maintained a group of excellent school horses. Many of them are personally trained show champions and some have been raised from foals to be a valuable part of the riding program. She continues to field competitive groups of horses and riders at nearby schooling shows and major Pacific Northwest Morgan breed competitions. Her riding instruction program is busy and popular. Catherine lives with her husband, Ray Chesnut, on their 28 acre home farm east of Stanwood. Catherine serves as the manager of the Pacific Northwest Morgan horse show, the longest continuously running Morgan competition West of the Missippi river. She is proud to have trained a number of people who have gone on to become professionals in the horse business and many other self-reliant riders who enjoy all areas of horse sport. In 2016 Catherine and 9 of her adult lady riding students spent a week riding from “Inn to Inn” across Ireland to the Cliffs of Moher. In 2018 a smaller group will enjoy a riding vacation in the Dordogne Valley of France. Lifelong friendships have been and continue to be made in Catherine’s riding program now located
at Rustic Pines, something that makes her very happy. Her training and instruction methods produce cheerful, willing horses and riders with confidence, character, determination and skill.