Kimberly Herslow learned to ride at a friend's house around the corner from her New Jersey home. She went on to be involved with horses at the county stable, where her father would drop her off at 5:30 a.m. on weekends, and not pick her up until 6 p.m. She spent the hours in between working in exchange for rides. She liked to go galloping around the trails bareback when she got a chance.
When she got her own first horse, a $1,000 3-year-old Thoroughbred, she took jumping lessons. But at Delaware Valley College in Pennsylvania, where she studied equine science, Kim had a chance to discover dressage.
Her father, John Herslow, gave her the opportunity to have her own stable, Upper Creek Farm in bucolic Stockton, New Jersey, but insisted she had to be involved in building it. Once it was running, Kim did all her own work, because she couldn’t afford any help.
She bought and sold horses as part of her business. In Germany, she found one she wouldn’t sell, Rosmarin (Reno), whom she bought as a 3-year-old. The son of Rosentanz out of a Weltmeyer mare had been under saddle only about six months. "It was pretty cool to have the opportunity to get a horse like him," she said, noting the Germans usually try to keep such animals at home, but she came by when the economy was sliding and the owner needed to sell.
Reno was reserve champion in the Verden, Germany, Young Horse competition as a 3-year old, when he got a score of 9 (out of 10) for his walk. Kim brought him up the levels herself, with lessons from various trainers along the way. “I know he's all-in with me,” she said of Reno. “He always gives me his 100 percent, he never quits on me. I love that about him.”
Kim, who trains with Debbie McDonald, rode Reno in the Prix St. Georges and Intermediaire I at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, where teams were composed of a combination of Small Tour and Big Tour horses.
Her score of 77.15 percent for a spectacular test in the I-1 was just 0.02 percent behind teammate Laura Graves, riding Verdades in the Grand Prix Special. Those scores clinched not only gold for the Pan Am team but also qualified the U.S. for the Rio Olympics.
Read Kim’s blog to find out how she’s faring after that.