Our working students make the place tick thanks to their diligence and extraordinary care. They groom, turnout, and keep a sharp eye on the health of each horse. We could not make it without them!
A typical working student stays several months to a year. We always have two working students. If you have interest in becoming a working student here, please call Michelle at 716-380-0309.
Kristen expressed her love of horses at the young age of 5, becoming hooked after her first pony ride at a local carnival. A day later her mom signed her up for riding lessons.
Cala and her horse Tyler have worked here since September 2010.
Cala expressed her interest in horses from an early age until at age 10 her parents enrolled her in riding lessons. She pursued English riding lessons, ranging from dressage to eventing, until high school, when softball and basketball temporarily occupied her free time. Then she attended Houghton College, switching to an equestrian focus in her first year.
Upon graduation, Cala purchased her horse Tyler, an 18 year old Hanoverian. She had to leave Tyler for a summer internship at Horses Unlimited in New Mexico, where she worked with Fred Magazzeni. After the summer ended, Cala came to LaBarre Dressage, where among other things she hopes to learn about biomechanics — the connection between the bodies of horse and rider.
Ultimately, Cala wants to train young horses, as she is inspired by the quick progress they can make, and the challenge of training horses to make intelligent connections.
Ali and her horse Wilson have worked here since September 2009.
When she was no more than seven years old, Ali’s mother bought a Shetland pony named April as a companion for her own horse. Ali learned to ride on April, and April was a tough teacher; April knew, for example, that running through dense woods was a fun way to remove a little rider from her back.
Despite this beginning, Ali continued to ride ponies and eventually met an Appaloosa named Pongo whose connection with Ali sparked her love for riding. Ali met her trainer Rob Rohrer at this time, too, and together Ali and Pongo learned how to really ride.
Ali learned to event on Pongo and a jumper named Annie, eventing at ever-higher levels — but at each show, Ali found herself looking forward to the dressage portion the most. She relished the connection and attention to detail that dressage requires of the horse and rider.
Her new focus on dressage set her on a six month search for a dressage horse, and she discovered Wilson. His nature demands an excellent rider, so Ali did her best while also hoping to find a trainer who could help her with her body position and alignment. Fred Magazzeni recommended Michelle, and Ali decided to come, where Michelle has been working with Ali and Wilson as they become a better and better pair each month.
Mary Esther Hitchcock
Mel and her horse Linney worked here from October 2009 to May 2010.
Mel started out riding trail horses on her family’s vacations to Florida. She got on a horse anytime she could. Around the age of 12, she went to visit her aunt with her sister Hope. Her aunt had paid a jumping trainer to come and teach them for a week during the summer. She loved the riding and her aunt encouraged her mom to get her daughters into riding lessons. This began a commitment to riding and loving horses for both.
A year later, Mel bought her first horse Duke after taking many group lessons at a local facility. She began working and earning private lessons to learn more from her trainer Stephanie Grace. Then she moved to a full time jumper trainer by the name of Freddy Duarte. She was a groom for him and learned the Hunter discipline for over 4 years.
Then she moved off to an equine-based Bible school where she learned the Horsemanship side of things. Lots of groundwork and western saddles and some very fun memories concluded her year there. She taught Horsemanship classes as well as English classes to many of the summer campers.
She then was accepted as a working student at Labarre Dressage Training Center, and began her training in Dressage.
Meg worked with Michelle from the summer of 2007 to the fall of 2009.
When Meg was seven, she got a little black pony named Peanuts, and rode him in western gear. At the time, she couldn’t even tell a trot apart from a canter; Peanuts’ gaits were walk and scurry. She agreed to sell Peanuts after a year had gone by because she wasn’t yet dedicated to horses.
When she turned twelve, Meg began working for Cathie Textor at Butternut Brook Equine Center, a stable two miles from her house. Meg fed and did turnout in exchange for a Saturday morning riding lesson. After two years, Meg had proved her dedication to her parents, so they helped her buy Thunder Dancing. She rode Thunder down to Cathie’s to continue her riding lessons (English, with some jumping) and went on trail rides during the week. Thunder didn’t like his cheap all-purpose saddle, and came to hate it when it was placed too high on his withers, so he started bucking in the canter. Meg hung on pretty well, and could fall like a ninja.
Meg joined Michelle about five years later and learned how to communicate with Thunder, and not just talk at him. Thunder was deeply grateful to Michelle for helping Meg become a more attuned rider, and he became a more trusting and trusted critter because of it!