USDF Bronze Medalist
USDF "L" Judges Candidate
Kimberly has been active in the West Michigan equestrian community for over twenty years as a rider and competitor and began her professional career in 2003. She is a USDF Bronze medalist and has competed successfully through 3rd Level. She has developed her skills by working with some of the industries top professionals as well as by working with literally hundreds of horses ranging from off the track thoroughbreds to advanced Dressage & Event horses and everything in between.
She has worked with riders and horses of all levels and backgrounds including Dressage, Hunter/Jumpers, Eventing, even Western! Her goal is to provide a solid, classically based foundation that will allow every rider to enjoy and succeed at any activity they choose, whether it is for recreation or show.
Kimberly’s true passion is Dressage and she is very involved at the local level. She served on the Board of Directors for the All Dressage Association of West Michigan (ADA) for 2 years as well as serving as President in 2010. The ADA is a USDF Region II GMO (Group Membership Organization). She also served as a delegate at the 2009 USDF National Convention and Symposium in Austin, TX and the International Dressage Summit in Wellington, FL in 2013. Most recently, she spent the winter season in Wellington with Coach Katrina Hiller, a USDF Gold Medalist.
Kimberly has developed a "Practical Dressage" system; a combination of Classical Riding, Natural Horsemanship and Physics. She uses this approach to train all horses and riders, regardless of discipline. However, she understands that horses are as individual as people and custom fits a program that will work for each individual horse and rider team. She instructs students how to use the knowledge of human and equine bio-mechanics and physics in order to work harmoniously with their equine partner. A combination of visual examples, demonstration and practical exercises are used to teach students how to ride more comfortably and effectively. She also uses her understanding of equine behavior to improve confidence and communication to create a more effective training approach. As a child, she read the book "Centered Riding" by Sally Swift and it still heavily influences here teaching style today.
Both Kimberly and her students have enjoyed many successes, awards and championships at shows throughout the Midwest. Kimberly is dedicated to her own on-going education and participates regularly in clinics and lessons. She believes a rider is never truly 'finished' and is committed to continually expanding her own education in order to provide the best possible knowledge and experience to her clients.
Kimberly is also an experienced businesswoman. She began her career in the horse business while still in high school, working as an office assistant and farm hand for a local hunter/jumper farm starting in 1997 as part of a school-to-work program through Kenowa Hills High School. Following graduation, she attended Northwood University in Midland, MI, where she majored in Marketing and Business Management with a minor in Advertising. Shortly after college, Kimberly returned to the farm where she grew up riding and quickly moved from a substitute instructor to a part-time associate trainer.
In 2005 she moved to Rockford Equestrian Center. She was asked to teach a few students but her lesson program quickly grew from 2-3 weekly lessons to over 25 students and several training horses. At this time, she was still working full-time as an office administrator for a manufacturing company in downtown Grand Rapids, MI.
In 2007, Kimberly met her husband, Jim Bench. Also that year, she met FEI level Eventer Erika Treis-Petersen of Great Lakes Equestrian Center. Erika hired Kimberly as her Assistant Trainer and provided her with an excellent opportunity to take both her riding and teaching skills to the next level. With Jim's support and never-ending dedication to Kimberly's dream of being a top rider, she was able to leave her office job and focus on teaching and riding full-time in early 2009. She continued to grow her program at GLEC, and by summer of 2010, had over 40 regular students.
Kimberly continually sets new goals for herself and is currently enrolled in the USDF Judges "L" Program. She is also working towards earning her USDF Silver Medal and has several young horses she plans to compete.
- 2017 - Rode with Fred Weber at WinterSpring Dressage multiple times
- 2017 - Received Grant from The Dressage Foundation for 2 week intensive study with Katie Hiller, WI.
- 2017 - Parts B & C of the USDF "L" Judges Training Program
- 2016 - Janet Foy "on the levels" Symposium
- 2016 - Part A of the USDF "L" Judges Training Program
- Winter 2016 - Winter Season in Wellington as part of the team at Katrina Hiller Dressage.
- 2015 - Interviewed for USDF Online Podcast series
- 2015 - Article Published in USDF Connections Magazine
- 2015 - Clinic with JJ Tate at Gaea's Farm (WI)
- 2015 - 2 students qualified for USDF Regional Finals (Rebecca Bruening, Andrea Pratt)
- 2015 - Student Stephanie Van de Ven earned USDF Bronze Medal
- 2015 - Student Rebecca Bruening wins Reserve Champion Adult Amateur at Waterloo USDF Summer Series
- 2015 - USDF Bronze Medal
- June 2015 - 5 day "bootcamp" with Katie Hiller at Gaea's Farm in Walworth, WI
- 2015 - USDF Gold Medalist Katrina "Katie" Hiller at Benchmark Farm (April & August)
- 2015 Audited Lilo Fore Clinic at Southview Farm
- 2009-2014 Regular instruction from USDF Silver Medalist, Sue Thome
- 2014 - 'Training the Trainers' clinic w/ Gold Medalist/Grand Prix trainer, Catherine Haddad
- 2013/2014 - Young Horse Clinic with USDF Gold Medalist Michael Bragdell, head trainer at Hilltop Farm
- 2014/2015 - Rode regularly with USDF Gold Medalist, Fred Weber
- 2013 - Audited 2 separate clinics with International trainer, Cathrine Haddad
- 2013 - International Dressage Summit (Wellington, FL)
- 2013 - Attended MDA
Clinic "Rider Tests" with "r" judge Kerry Petty & FEI
"C" judge Maryal Barnett
- 2011 - Audited Olympian Steffen Peters Clinic at Albion College
- 2011 - Rode own horses "Rustic Ridge" & "Davino" with Trish Helmer
- 2011 -
Audited "C" Session of the USDF "L" instructed by Alexandra Howard (Camp Lake, WI)
- 2011 - Attended MDA "On the Levels" Clinic at MSU
- 2010 - Year End Champion - Training Level with Rustic Ridge
- 2010 - Lessons with FEI rider/trainer Laurie Moore
- 2010 -
Rode Rustic Ridge with USDF Gold Medalist, Fred Weber
- 2010 - President, The All Dressage Association
- 2010 - Served as Region II delegate at the USDF National Convention
- 2009 - Rode
Rustic Ridge with USDF “r” Judge Sue Hughes
- 2009 - Silver Certificate for scores earned on "Buy Me Diamonds" at ADA
- 2009 - Audited Spanish Riding School clinic at Great Lakes Equestrian Center
- 2007-2010 trained under USEA Gold Medal Eventer Erika Treis-Petersen
- 2005-2007 - Associate Instructor at Rockford Equestrian Center
- 2001-2003 - Associate Instructor at a local hunter/jumper facility