References & Testimonials

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Avion Equestrian Training Students, Cross Country Retreat Cle Elum, WA 2008. Loved this day & these girls.

Shelly Temple (2011 FEI World Pony Driving Championships US Team)

“I’ve known Kendra for the last five years, and have recommended her training services to many people during that time, all with great results. She is a patient and talented trainer and teacher, and I have great respect for her.”

Shelly Temple & Danny, Southern Pines 2015
Shelly Temple & Danny, Southern Pines Dressage 2015

Ann P.

“Your compassion & skill with the horses AND their people is outstanding. I am riding better than ever before because you knew how to give me the self confidence to try new things and still feel safe. It is the same skill you use with the horses. Kendra, that is a rare gift!

“Your endless patience with difficult horses and people did not go unnoticed. You are always considerate to the staff and vendors associated with the barn. They all comment how much they like working with you. And, of course, the horses love you too! Even our ‘special needs’ horses thrived under your training. You ‘get’ them.

“Thank you seems so inadequate for all you’ve done. [You are] the best trainer I’ve ever had.”

Melissa S.

“Kendra DeKay, you are making my dreams come true! Thank you for helping me to build a trusting relationship with Milo & Mojo through natural horsemanship. Also, thank you for helping me to build confidence in myself again. I am so thankful to have you to guide us on our journey. Thank you for opening up so many opportunities for my guys.

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Melissa & Mojo at our August Play Day

Pat Moss

I can not say enough nice things about Kendra. Actually, I can’t imagine anyone has better horsemanship skills than hers and her teaching ability is outstanding. This combination is very rare. I know Kendra has worked hard to develop her skills with people and horses but she seems to have an innate and natural ability for what she does. Her ability to listen and clarify and communicate  with her human client is as good as her ability to do so with her equine client. Watching her work at liberty with our mare was amazing. It was moving and heartwarming because the mare had been so difficult and Kendra had her “eating out of her hand” and loving it all the while! The mare had developed some ugly habits but Kendra was not afraid to ride her and I believe the mare enjoyed Kendra’s company. This high-as-a-kite girl seemed so comfortable in her own skin and with life in general . Kendra gave this mare a gift and it taught me just how much I can do for her if I learn the tools to speak her language. There is so much to learn but surprisingly with very limited new knowledge it was obvious the mare was grateful I was getting instruction. I am inspired to be a better horse owner. Kendra is not only professional she is a class act. She is one of the one in a million in the horse business you can trust. I have no doubt she will be successful in her new endeavors and she deserves to be.

Teri Merry, PhD.

Being a bit of a knowledge junkie, I have fairly consistently trained with a wide variety of trainers for the past 40 years, including those who specialize in dressage, hunter/jumper, reining, western pleasure, English pleasure, driving, and more. Kendra is different from anyone I have ever worked with in the past. For nearly a year we have been working with Kendra to help us start two young mules. Kendra’s approach takes the necessary small and repetitive steps to ensure their understanding of the task requested and rewards the small steps performed correctly to build their confidence. Our young mules are progressing beautifully. Not only are they calm, willing, and learning quickly, Kendra is training them with the utmost respect for who each of them are as an equine partner and building the willing attitude we desire. In my opinion, Kendra’s approach builds that unmeasurable quality in an equine where they want to give 110% to do what you ask to please their human. Kendra is excellent at building the foundation from which all higher level work is based. She spends a lot of time with ground work (prior to and in conjunction with work under saddle), which to the untrained eye may seem slow. However, she is expecting the equine to respond, work, and carry oneself using the same rhythm, responsiveness, and self-carriage that is expected under saddle. Then, under saddle the training and muscle memory easily transfers. Kendra’s intuition and knowledge of what they are thinking is amazing. Her insight allows for proactive corrections that result in a more positive course of training. Kendra is kind and gentle, yet firm when needed. Kendra’s work with our young mules is perfect in both approach and results.

Teri and Paula beach
Teri & Francine and Paula & Lark on our 2015 Beach Retreat

Monica G.

“We [feel] so thankful to have someone like you teaching us about horsemanship. You’re so thoughtful and kind and patient and completely in touch with horse and rider. It’s a pleasure to watch you work and I couldn’t imagine having a better trainer. We’re also soooo thankful to you for helping us find Syndicate, he means the world to our family. He’s a perfect fit! So thank you, thank you, thank you!!!”

Monica and "Syd" at our annual Beach Retreat in Washington State
Monica and “Syd” at our annual Beach Retreat in Washington State

Marianne H.

I have worked with and observed Kendra working with others for 5 years and I am in awe of her excellent abilities to communicate with both horse and human. Kendra has a unique perspective on natural horsemanship (and horsemanship in general) from working with mentors and truly grasping concepts and techniques and developing them into her own. Her lifetime of equestrian experience and her awesome communication skills make her both an exceptional trainer and teacher/guide/mentor. She is a genuine problem solver able to bring solutions to both horse and individual.  I am ever grateful for all my horses and I have learned with Kendra, and look forward to continuing with her on this journey.

Marianne and Red
Marianne and Red. Photo credit: Laurie Fix

Kay Preston

I have been a student of Kendra’s for the past 3 years. After spending 35 years teaching school, I decided to take up riding again. My skills (which were few to begin with) were greatly diminished. My riding goals are probably very different from most people’s: I just want to go out and ride by myself and feel safe and in control. No stress! Kendra has shown an unbelievable amount of patience in helping me achieve my goals. She has encouraged me to push myself a little further each lesson and praises my slightest accomplishments. Her calm and effective ways have allowed me and my horse to build confidence and trust in ourselves and in each other.

Kendra is an extremely effective communicator who has a way of explaining things in terms that suit each rider’s ability level. When I don’t quite “get it” she gives me the time it takes to process and work through her instructions without rushing me. If it weren’t for Kendra, I probably would not be riding and enjoying my horse today. I highly recommend Kendra as an instructor. She can and will help you meet your goals in a way that makes riding all that YOU want it to be.

Kay and Sweet Pea
Kay and Sweet Pea

Katrina B.

“I love working with you. You have so much dignity and class, which sometimes seems to be missing in this business. You have amazed me with how you have handled some tough situations. I admire how professional you are without ever seeming unapproachable. If no one’s told you lately, you do a damn good job!

– Katrina Bradley (eventing trainer, Issaquah, WA)

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Letter of Reference (Amy Eberhardt)

I am most happy to offer some comments of reference for Kendra DeKay, whom I met in the Spring of 2006. At that time, Kendra was in her 4th year of managing a boarding facility in the Seattle area as well as running her private training program, Avion Equestrian.

My 2 year association with Kendra has been life changing. I came to Kendra, not having ridden for years, with no plan other than to find some balance in my hectic life and eventually fulfill a lifelong dream to own my own horse. It was my good fortune to stumble upon her, and I could not have asked for a better beginning to my quest!

With a diverse client base, Kendra has proven to be the consummate professional. She is an extremely good listener and strives to thoroughly understand the goals of her students. With a keen eye toward developing both horse and rider, she customizes a program to each person, encompassing multiple layers of comprehensive horsemanship and general care. Kendra’s deep love of horses comes through daily; she is a great observer of horse behavior and physical strengths and challenges. Her training is adapted to extract the best from the horse, all the while imparting this same knowledge to her students so they may increase confidence and independence in developing their riding skills as well as their relationships with their horses. Outside of traditional lesson time, Kendra works with clients in a wide range of educational endeavors, from care basics such as conformation influences, leg wrap classes, giving shots, injury management, and trailer loading; to show preparation, including dressage testing, cross country schooling, filming practice rides, etc.

In my own experience, my goals have, along with simply becoming a better rider, been in the realm of deepening my understanding of my horse and creating an intimate bond that sets the stage for a lifelong partnership. It is due to Kendra’s guiding hand that I feel I have the foundation and tools to go forward with a confidence that allows me to grow with my horse and learn from each other. Very early on, Kendra introduced some Natural Horsemanship techniques and philosophies into my personal program, which I embraced immediately. I have a young horse and incorporating some Natural Horsemanship methods for learning produced tremendous results. It set the tone for a relationship that was playful and active and my horse loves it!

Kendra likes to refer to herself as a coach, rather than trainer. Her warmth and positive attitude are genuine and consistent, and her students love her easy manner and style. She has a rare gift for combining compassion with drive and is committed not only to her clients but to furthering her own development as well. She will most certainly find success along any road she chooses and has a bright and exciting future to look forward to.

Amy and Roman
Amy and Roman

Letter of Reference (Gwen Moni)

We have had the fortune to work and play under Kendra DeKay for over a year and a half. My daughter Alex (15) trained classically as a hunter-jumper since the age of eight and successfully competed locally and regionally on the “A” Circuit. We came to Kendra looking for a cross-training experience and a broader education in horsemanship. Kendra has opened up a new world to us!

Kendra introduced Alex to the principles of natural horsemanship first in working with lease horse, Abbie, a classically trained hunter and then Xena, an extremely sensitive thoroughbred and former race horse being restarted in training after years as a broodmare. It was not without some initial hesitation that I watched my daughter partner with such a towering, powerful green horse. I was amazed and assured to see Kendra bring out Alex’s own natural talents for training, intuiting and communicating, and to see Xena move forward in her work and open to a relationship with her rider. They excelled together and Alex and Xena quickly completed their Parelli level two groundwork.

But our biggest learnings by far have come with the purchase and care of our new horse Topper. Kendra worked diligently to help find the perfect partner for my daughter. And did we. Topper, another green thoroughbred and former racehorse, is a brave young six year old with enough play and go to match Alex’s. Under Kendra’s mentorship, and supported by a natural horsemanship foundation, Alex and Topper have already come so far…on the ground, on the trail, over fences and out on course. A summer cross country camping trip with Kendra and her family of students – horse and human – has been one of the absolute highlights of my daughter’s equestrian experience.

Kendra is a naturally gifted horsewoman and instructor, with a quiet wisdom beyond her years. She has an uncanny, intuitive sense for both horse and rider’s needs. Her passion for her field is well matched to her drive to continue learning and her patience and compassion for those around her. Her love of horses and for teaching extends well beyond any professional parameters. Kendra has spent countless hours with us; consulting, guiding, listening and hand-holding as we learn to care and partner with our new horse. I have never once doubted the safety of my daughter or horse under her care. Her mentorship and friendship have been invaluable. I am so grateful for the time we have had with her. We are forever changed!

Alex's mare, Topper, schooling cross country on line.
Alex’s mare, Topper, schooling cross country on line.

Letter of Reference (Jean Marquand)

Having just graduated into the ranks of a gentlewoman farmer from the boarding barn world, I was over my head and not at all sure that I could manage my new farm in Aiken nor my new horse.  I was in a panic when, thankfully, Kendra responded to an SOS from my local veterinarian and drove down my driveway.  That was three years ago, and thanks to Kendra, my relationships with my horses and my life as an amateur equestrian have been wonderfully transformed. Initially I didn’t have the tools or experience to work confidently and systematically with my new, big Danish Warmblood.  I had not grown up around horses and had limited riding experience.  Danica, my new horse had sustained an injury and was bonkers.  I was frantic.  However, throughout the winter season, systematically and patiently, Kendra trained Danica, trained me and put the two of us together.  We successfully worked through our many challenges.  When I returned to Maine at the end of the season, miraculously it seemed, I was successfully able to work with Danica.  The following year Kendra inherited an equally new challenge: that of helping me acclimate and ride my recently imported FEI Dutch Warmblood, Well Done.  The education Kendra had given me for working with Danica seamlessly translated into enjoying another success, this time with Well Done.  Once again, when I returned to Maine at the end of the winter season, I did so with confidence, excitement and increased riding ability.  Traveling along my equestrian journey with Kendra continues to be a treat.  The depth of her knowledge of horses and her understand of equitation are exceptional.  She also is extremely talented, knowledgeable, nice, thoughtful, well adjusted and tactful.  It’s always a pleasure to be around her, and I’m constantly amazed at how much I learn about riding, my horse and the sport of dressage each time I have have a lesson or attend one of her clinics.  In short, I tip my hat to Kendra and thank her for continuing to share her substantial equestrian talents with me.

Jean and Well Done
Jean and Well Done

Susan J.

“I wanted to Thank you So Much for the wonderful lesson!
I truly felt uplifted, relaxed, and happy about my (new) relationship with Honey Bee.

“I just wanted to THANK YOU AGAIN So very very much for working Honey Bee through whatever issues she/we were going through. You made your constancy a “no thing” even though I knew it was pressing into everything else you were next scheduled to do. I really appreciate your recognition of a “break through” moment and your willingness/ability to take it on. My heart was super enlarged for quite a long time afterward. I worked with her today, and she was a thoroughly different horse. Thanks for working with us and evolving my world!”

“Thank you for yet another Fabulous Day!!! I know that it might not seem significant, but even just having you there when I begin trotting bareback is so important to me… and I love the confidence I’m gaining— by the moment!!!

2002 Magnolia Ridge Equestrian Center Show Team
Magnolia Ridge Show Team 2002. Loved teaching these girls, several of whom are now professional or talented amateur equestrians as adults!

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