Six Time World Champion Instructor 

Prepares Riders for World Class Competition 


 Wilmington North Carolina native, Catherine Loughlin Stephenson, more familiarly known as “Cackie” has streamlined her businesses, now called Persimmon Berry Riders at both Canterbury Stables in Wilmington NC and Persimmon Berry Farm in Rocky Point NC. Her program offers lesson horses of different levels, and young or green prospects for sale or lease. Most of the teaching is done where she began her riding career at the age of four at the Canterbury Stables location on Wrightsville Avenue in Wilmington.  It is a premier location just before the marsh on the way to Wrightsville Beach.  The Rocky Point business is just 20 to 25 minutes outside of Wilmington off of I 40/ Exit 408.


Teaching Style:

Although she enjoys training client horses and several prospects of her own, her true passion is starting young riders correctly, pushing them to reach new and different goals every week. She knows what it takes

to become an accomplished young rider. She still holds the record for the youngest rider to have ever won the Worlds Champion Juvenile 3 Gaited Championship and the World’s Champion Minton Memorial 3 Gaited Worlds Grand championship at the age of 12 for riders 18 and under in Louisville Kentucky’s Freedom Hall. Cackie believes that the proper fundamentals of foot position and balance are crucial components of a child’ s learning curve as a beginner. She is emphatic about the atmosphere being fun and has mastered the art of keeping young kids’ attention. Still a kid at heart herself, Cackie has a keen sense about her students, with many tricks and even made up lingo to combat any trace of frustration, boredom or sensory overload. “Kids do this because they love animals and are totally enamored by the horse. Establishing a bond and symbiotic relationship with such a large animal is empowering and builds a great deal of confidence in a young person. It is also a great way to develop life skills as they learn to care for a horse properly and socialize with other riders of all ages with the same interest.”

Riding and Showing Experience:

     She credits Linda Shelhart owner of Canterbury Stables with not only teaching her the proper mechanics of form but also instilling in her a great sense of responsibility.  Cackie loved every minute of her time at Canterbury Stables as well as summer camps at Walnut Way Farm with instruction from Marilyn MacFarlane and additionally instruction by Helen Crabtree both in Kentucky. She started competing under Canterbury’s Linda Shelhart with World Championship ribbons in ten and under equitation on her horse Supreme Fortune, and World's Champion top three with her three gaited pony Hell’s Bell’s Surprise. 

      She also competed under the direction of Hall of Fame trainer John Conatser.  During the 1980’s, she is credited with wins in Tampa, Atlanta Pro Am, Lexington Kentucky's Red Mile, the Rock Creek Horse show in Louisville Kentucky, the Raleigh North Carolina State Championship, and wins at the American Royal Horse Show in Kansas City Missouri. Her mounts are still familiar names within the Saddlebred Industry, Zeberdee, Supreme Attraction, A Touch of Champagne, Magic Reward, Valley Venture, Denim and Diamonds, and Seymore’s Finest Hour.

After some years riding hunt seat  and dressage, in 2000, Horse World Magazine’s Millennial issue’s, People’s Choice Awards named Cackie Reserve Juvenile Rider of the Century behind the famed Julian Schmutz who showed in the 1960s. It was not long after that, that she took a special interest in a horse named Dreaming Blue. Riding "Blue" under Lewis Eckard and not having shown saddlebreds for years, she won the Amateur Five Gaited class at the well renowned Blue Ridge Classic Horse Show, in Fletcher NC.  Shortly after that she showed The Pearl of Noir for Scotland Saddlebreds where she was Dixie Cup’s Reserve Ladies 3 Gaited Champion in Perry Georgia and went on to ribbon at Lexington Junior League Horse Show.  This is without a doubt her all time favorite show, where she won all four of her juvenile classes, three gaited and five gaited in 1984.

Recent Past and Present

Up until now Persimmon Berry Farm Riders have participated in much of the national circuit with one of the program's riders ribboning  in the Worlds Champion Juvenile Five Gaited Championship.  2018 has been a time for Cackie to take on many more riders with the help of Managing Consultant  Zvjezdana Kovacevic "Zveki" of Croatia.  Additionally, Persimmon Berry Farm welcomes with great enthusiasm the expertise and teaching experience of Deanna Edgy who is now a part of the Persimmon Berry Team!