Kim Herslow: Returning to the Show Ring

As her 2015 Pan American Games horse, Rosmarin, prepares to get back in the competition arena, Kim takes over the ride on a client's horse.
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Kim Herslow and Soraya competing in a national Grand Prix class at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival. (Photo© 2018 by Nancy Jaffer)

Kim Herslow and Soraya competing in a national Grand Prix class at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival. (Photo© 2018 by Nancy Jaffer)

It’s great to be back in Florida, at the same stable where I have kept my clients’ horses for the last few years.

I’m still conditioning my 2015 Pan American Games horse Rosmarin, better known as Reno, to get him ready to show again. After an operation that removed a cyst on his stifle two years ago, he had a few other little health problems, so we’ve taken our time with him.

He’s looking like his old self, and I’m hoping to compete with him near the end of the Florida circuit. In the meantime, I have been working with another horse.

When one of my clients, Marilyn Sherwin, pulled a hamstring doing pilates, she understandably couldn’t sit straight in the saddle. So I took over the ride on her horse, Soraya II, who had been part of the Finnish team—and even did the 2013 European Championships—before we bought her two years ago from Stella Hagelstam.

At that time, Marilyn was ready to buy a horse on which she could get her USDF bronze medal. Soraya, a Hanoverian by Sandro Hit, was a safe horse but had a lot of nervous inner energy; her mouth was very busy. Marilyn loved her, she was doing tempis on the diagonal when we went to try out Soraya.

When I rode her, I was trying to make her quiet and desensitize her so Marilyn could ride. The mare has always been willing, which is why we bought her. She needed to take care of Marilyn, who’s 85 pounds soaking wet and 70 years old.

Marilyn has been very complimentary of how we’ve progressed, noting Soraya was a totally different horse in terms of her frame and way of going when she came to us. She says that when we go to a show, “I’m more nervous than Kim or the horse.”

Marilyn Sherwin, Soraya’s owner, with the mare and Kim. (Photo© 2018 by Nancy Jaffer)

Marilyn Sherwin, Soraya’s owner, with the mare and Kim. (Photo© 2018 by Nancy Jaffer)

But Soraya really was pretty nervous in the ring. The first time I did a Grand Prix on her, she got her tongue over the bit when I was picking up the canter from passage and she kept it over the bit the whole test. She did everything with her tongue over the bit and then fixed it on the last center line and wound up with a 65 percent or something.

The mare wants to do the work, but she needed a lot of time to rebalance and get her off her front end. She wasn’t using herself correctly. Her back was too tight. Her lower neck joint facets needed injecting. That has made the biggest change recently. She’s becoming more connected and more supple.

Marilyn’s mishap has gotten me back in the show ring, and we’ve been competing in the national Grands Prix in Wellington. We performed our first musical freestyle this month, which was very exciting. Terry Gallo did the music (a highlight was Adele’s Rolling in the Deep) and Marilyn was involved with the choreography, which was a lot of fun.

I’m getting good mileage with the 16-year-old Soraya, as I wait for Reno to come back, and I’ve been so gratified that Debbie McDonald—who helped me with Reno—is also giving me pointers with Soraya. It’s wonderful to have her there at ringside to warm me up and then critique my performance in the ring.

Debbie McDonald ringside with Kim Herslow.(Photo© 2018 by Nancy Jaffer)

Debbie McDonald ringside with Kim Herslow.(Photo© 2018 by Nancy Jaffer)

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