Jennifer Preston is hoping to jump her way to an A on her senior project.
The Evans High School senior researched and designed a 10-obstacle equestrian stadium jumping course for Emily Gainey at Hunt - Ho Farm Inc. in North Augusta.
"The project she did was really neat because we don't have anything like this in our area," said Gainey, who has also served as Jennifer's mentor. "Most people in this area have low-key jumps, what you would normally see in the woods. What Jennifer built is very bright and she was trying to make it of Olympic caliber."
Preston, 18, the daughter of Greg and Diane Preston of Martinez, has been riding "since I was able to sit up," she said. She is a member of the Belle Meade Hunt in McDuffie County and is a competitor in equestrian three-day events.
She has been planning and working on the course since October, using books, information from related Internet sites and the Gainey's advice.
EEvans High School student Jennifer Preston designed and built an equestrian jump course as her senior project. She says she's been riding horses "since I was able to sit up."
"She's worked hard," Gainey said. "She didn't know how to use any power tools when she hit my farm. I gave her some ideas of how to do it and said, 'have fun."'
The project has not only required her to learn the basics of planning a course, but also the carpentry skills to build it.
"Going into it, I was like I'll build a couple of jumps and have a lot of fun. But if you mess up on one calculation, you have to start over," Preston said. "I'd never touched a saw before I started doing this."
Last Wednesday, her English teacher Mary Stout went to see Preston demonstrate her project. Preston rode the course using Gainey's horse, All the Best.
"I would definitely say this particular student showed what hard work was all about," Stout said. "She spent all this time building these jumps for this arena. She did not take the easy way out. It's a dedication to her work ethic."
The project has also required Preston to become an expert at fund-raising. Preston and Gainey wrote letters asking area businesses to donate $100 to sponsor a jump.
Preston hopes to add five more jumps to her course by April, including two Liverpool jumps, which will have a small rectangular shaped pool in front of or beneath the jump. The plan is to use the course for a competition at the farm in April.
"I think it is the hardest course I've ever ridden," Preston said. "The space that we're in is small. If it was a bigger space, my turns wouldn't be as tight and as sharp as they are, but that's what makes it fun to ride."
While Preston would like to continue designing stadium courses as a hobby, she plans to study nursing when she graduates.
Gainey said the course will be a lasting tribute to Preston's hard work.
"My barn is new and we're just getting started and I had not made it around to building a lot of jumps, so it helped me out," Gainey said. "And it helped my students, being able to watch her work hard, hit some of the problems she hit and overcome those problems."
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