Photo: 11-year-old Madison Tegtman, a sixth-grader at Kaneland Harter Middle School, with her horse, Preston, navigates over an obstacle during one of their rides. She has been riding horses since she was only three years old. Courtesy Photo
Sixth-grader and derby horse both get life experience
by Mike Slodki
MAPLE PARK—Located on Lees Road in Maple Park, Silver Spur Farm houses a youngster diligently working toward doing the very best in competition—and that’s just the sixth-grade student from Kaneland Harter Middle School.
11-year old Madison Tegtman doesn’t pick up a ball or racket. Her idea of unwinding is working in tandem with a 10-year old Oldenburg horse named Preston.
Tegtman has six first-place events under her cap, and most recently competed in Gurnee, Ill.
With an attentive and solid support group like her mother and horse owner Gina, grandparents Ed and Polly Ruzic, and trainer Tasha Lasiowski, Tegtman—who’s been a rider since she was 3—can focus on equestrian events and caring for Preston.
“I come here to spend time with him,” Tegtman said. “When we come here and get ready for everything, we have to clean all our stuff, clean the horse, practice, take lessons, and get ready to have competitions on Saturdays and Sundays.”
Preston just got back into the fold in early September after recovering from a damaged femur, the result of getting kicked by a fellow horse.
“That was my favorite place to compete at (Crosswinds in Marengo, Ill.), because it was his first show with me after his injury,” Tegtman said.
Specifically, Preston competes a hunter jumper horse, similar to obstacle courses that have walls, gates and fences, and has had quite the long road back. The recovery process took 18 months, and the injury occurred six weeks after Preston was acquired from Michigan.
“It’s a long wait, but I was patient and I was happy for everyone else, and they finally let me ride,” Tegtman said.
It was Madison’s patience that helped Preston recover, because Preston’s prognosis was not good.
“Every day, Madison was out there working with him. The vet would check him out and say it was doubtful he would be able to get back to where he was, but they kept at it,” Gina said.
Preston is the first Oldenberg horse owned by the family after owning two ponies previously.
It takes not just a level of commitment, but temperament, to take on the task of loving and caring for a prize animal.
“You definitely have to be patient. The horses are so good for the kids. It teaches them patience and responsibility, and you’re caring for a live animal,” Lasiowski said.
Lasiowski also owns and operates Escapar Farms within the grounds of Silver Spur, and has dealt with her share of local animals.
“It’s a big animal, and it’s got a mind of its own. It’s about learning to read your horse. Going forward in life, I think it teaches you how to read people,” Lasiowski said.
Tegtman and crew are enjoying what they do, and eventually would like to ease into different events.
“There’s higher jumps; more derbies in the future, I think,” Ed said. “All around the Midwest, you have an opportunity to see terrific horses and terrific riders.”
“I want to take him to hunter derbies, so he can get recognized more,” Tegtman said.
Hunter derbies, now moving on to an international stage, involve larger courses that are inclined with the horse’s natural way of moving about, and measures overall brilliance.
Brilliance is what Tegtman seems to strive for, along with her 10-year-old partner.
“When you go to compete, you hope you have a good horse to go with, and I do.”