Overcoming Obstacles with Preston Equestrian
by CH Staff Writer
Whether you are a rider overcoming an injury or need some confidence building, or have a horse in rehabilitation or in need of training, it is smart to find a trainer/instructor who will work positively to address your needs. All riders have obstacles to overcome and having a support team is an important facet to ensuring your success. Sometimes you want an all around trainer and as you develop you may want a specialist in your discipline.
Located in Avon, New York, just half an hour South of Rochester and located in the beautiful Finger Lakes region, young trainer Kim Preston of Preston Equestrian L.L.C. offers a myriad of services and shares her inspirational successes of the past several years. She works with special needs riders, children, and adults in multiple disciplines, including hunter/jumpers, dressage riders, and eventers. Kim grew up riding in Warwick, NY where she competed in local and recognized shows, participated in a pony club, and exercised horses. In this time, she won numerous champion titles in hunters, equitation, and jumpers, attended pony club events and had the opportunity to compete at the pony club finals in Lexington, VA.
During her college years at SUNY Oswego, she competed on their IHSA team while working part time at local farm. In this span of time she was able to continue to grow her knowledge base by training school horses, filling in for barn managers, and teaching riding camps.
In 2010, she discovered a passion for dressage and began shifting her focus. Shortly after graduation in May 2011, Kim moved to Rochester, NY with her husband where she had the chance to be a working student under a local dressage trainer. She spent several years working on building up her clientele and continuing her education to reach goals of her own. She currently continues to train several horses and riders at Finger Lakes Equestrian Center and is now running an off-site lesson and training program.
We sat down with Kim to chat about the various riders and horses she has been working with over the past few years and find out how she has so successfully built her business as a guide to other equestrian career minded folks.
Probably the most renowned of her equine clients is a Dutch warmblood mare called Tinkerbell, owned by Julie de Carlo. Tinkerbell a.k.a. Tink, has been the poster horse for the Cornell calendar and the subject of much review after a great outcome on a very complicated surgery and long rehabilitation process following the breaking of a hind leg during a pasture accident. As Kim explains:
Tink suffered from a broken tibia up into her stifle joint in August 2014. Julie immediately sent Tink to Cornell Large Animal Hospital; there she underwent a surgery and received 3 lag screws, 2 bone plates, and 19 interlocking screws to hold everything in place. Tink began her rehab and training in January of 2015 with me, hand walking in the beginning and eventually being cleared to ride, with many follow up x-rays to check [that] everything was healing according to plan. It has been a very long, steady, patient road to recovery, but Tink is currently going walk, trot, canter, and doing lateral movement at the walk. With the continued use of dressage basics, Tink is gaining muscle and developing more and more strength.
More plans in the works for this wonderful story of recovery include Julie once again now riding Tink herself and she is currently working with Kim to further her own skill set of dressage basics and principles. Julie also recently participated in the dressage clinic at Finger Lakes Equestrian Center with Grand Prix dressage trainers Paul and Nicola Alvin-Smith.
But it is not just horses that suffer injuries as we riders know. One of Kim’s students Adam Kulijof, recently suffered a fracture in the neck of his femur when he fell off his horse in November 2015. Dubbed by The Catskill Horse Magazine as “Adam, the Comeback Kid” for his amazing recovery, Kim told us what happened and what the road back to riding has been like:
The fall resulted in the need for emergency surgery and two screws in the neck of his femur. Adam was then sentenced to 10 weeks of no weight on his leg, [and] therefore no riding. While Adam was resting his leg, La Cour (aka Teddy) remained in full training with me so he would be ready for Adam's return. In this time Teddy was able to develop more strength, muscling, improve the quality of his gaits, and lateral work. Adam has been in physical therapy for almost 3 months now to rehabilitate his leg. At physical therapy they have a robotic horse that Adam rides at the walk to help regain strength in his right leg. His physical therapist targets muscle groups that help with both riding and daily activities. Adam is now cleared to ride at the walk and trot. Don't worry, this has not slowed Adam down, he will be competing in dressage shows this summer with his horse.”
Adam is just thirteen years old and his passion for his horse Teddy, is clear to see in their time together.
His mother Diane Beeman Kulijof, who must also be given credit for all the time and care she put in to his recovery had this to say:
Adam and Teddy would not be where they are today without Kim. You are helping Adam accomplish his dreams of showing. The training that you have put into Teddy has turned him into a completely different horse. He is now moving like the quality animal he was bred to be!
Kim Preston exhibits a matter of fact attitude and is very pragmatic when it comes to her students. When asked about working with Special Needs students she told us every rider has special needs and a learning style that best suits them.
Good instructors know this and can cater to meet the needs of the individual. As an instructor, I have taught several people that have diagnosed learning hardships, ADD, ADHD, Autism, and PTSD to name a few, as well as physical injuries that might make riding difficult. In my opinion, one of my biggest accomplishments has been the transformation of the rider and horse duo of Allie and Lela. Allie has Autism, she is very high functioning, but this makes horseback riding much more of a challenge that it is for someone without Autism. Allie has one of the biggest hearts I know, her heart is full of not only love, but dedication to her sport and determination to do well. She is always trying 110% and aims to please. Over the past 15 months we have been working on Allie's seat and position, as well as her feel for making a connection with Lela. When Lela first arrived at Finger Lakes Equestrian Center in January 2015 to begin her training she was very hollow in the back, stiff, and traveled inverted. Through the use of classical dressage principles and basics I've been able to transform Lela's body. She has put muscle in correct places, travels more through, and is working to please now. Allie and Lela plan to show at the Introductory Level this summer and participate in local dressage clinics. Please see the photos of Allie and Lela below to see some of the progress that has been made, pictures from left to right are August 2015, October 2015, and February 2016.
Preston Equestrian also has a mission for the riders to be able to work together and support each other to accomplish individual goals which will vary depending on the horse and rider combination. As Kim states:
We have some riders setting goals, such as dressage shows and clinics, one who is hoping to be able to take her horse on a trail ride because she has never been on one, other riders who are hoping to improve upon their animal and knowledge of dressage just for personal gain, and a couple horses that I will be getting ready for sale. Preston Equestrian Team plans on attending several dressage schooling shows associated with WNYDA as well as a couple recognized dressage competitions. In addition, you will find us participating in some local dressage clinics.
If you are interested in becoming part of the Preston Equestrian team to take lessons, or are interested in training please see her website for more information https://www.facebook.com/prestonequestrian/