Not Just Horsing Around: Competitive Equestrian Finds Relaxation at The Cliffs

Jen Padovani squeezes in a Zoom call before she leaves for one of the golf courses at The Cliffs. Later that day, her three horses will leave for Florida from the Tryon International Equestrian Center, about an hour away from her home at The Cliffs at Keowee Falls.


“We all need a break from each other,” she says of Challenger, Cacharel de la Pomme, and Seacoast B-52. “They’re like my pets, but we’re also not pleasure-riding. It’s competition and my horses need a break from me and I need a break from them, like any good sport.”


Jen is used to hyperkinetic living. After all, she worked for nearly 20 years at Goldman Sachs in various client facing roles. It was in Manhattan where she met Bill McMahon, her husband, who is close to retiring, while she still works as a financial-services recruiter.


Quite the journey from the wilds of Wall Street to the calmness of The Cliffs — but in Jen’s case, more of a gallop than a trot. She still competes in as many as 20 equestrian events every year and serves on the board of a therapeutic riding program for people with special needs. 


She and Bill split their time between residences in Greenwich, Connecticut, Wellington, Florida, and The Cliffs at Keowee Falls, where they purchased a homesite in 2008 and completed their New England-style lakefront home in 2010.


“What I love about coming here is that I can go hiking, I can go swimming, I can go biking. It’s such a nice, wonderful place to decompress and recharge and, you know, Connecticut’s not like that,” she says with a laugh.


Within the next year or so, she says they may begin dividing their year between The Cliffs and Palm Beach County. She also looks forward to more pleasure riding along the 200-some miles of trails in the Jocassee Gorges Wilderness Area.


Likewise, she’s anxious to meet more equestrians here and spend some time at The Equestrian Center at Keowee Vineyards. 


“The lovely horses they have at The Cliffs are just really nice trail horses that are relaxed and easy,” she says—so different from her competitive mounts.


At the moment, though, she sounds as if she will, like her horses, continue jumping from, say, driving to Tryon for a world-class competition then saddling up a golf cart at The Cliffs.


Recalling a recent invitation to play a round of golf at The Cliffs at Mountain Park, she says a friend asked, “‘What time are you done competing?’ and I’m, like, ‘I don’t know.’ And she says, ‘12:20 tee time, get your clubs, let’s go.’ I’m so lucky to have the privileges of golf at the other courses at The Cliffs.”


Then there’s this from the woman whose lifestyle remains a little on the, let’s just say, frenetic side: their getaway at The Cliffs offers the couple an opportunity to relax, for Bill to enjoy some fly-fishing and golf, and for her to take in some sporting clays shooting.


“It’s just so peaceful and it’s such an incredible place,” she says, “and it’s so great to see that people are becoming more aware of it.”


This story was featured in Cliffs Living magazine. To read more stories like this one and learn more about The Cliffs, subscribe here.

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