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 or even longer. We always have two working students. If you have interest in becoming a working student here, please call Michelle at 716-380-0309.
A few other working students have journeyed at LaBarre Dressage, but we do not have their bios or pictures. Here are those for whom we do have this information.
Courtney asked her mom for a horse when she was three years old. She started riding at age five. Her first horse was an Appaloosa named Dakota, and he was very good to her. Courtney moved around from barn to barn riding mostly western and then switching to Hunter around the age of ten. She joined 4H as an eight-year-old, and leased different horses to show. At fourteen, Courtney she got her first miniature horse, Ben, and she learned how to drive. The following year, she got her first horse, which was a five-year-old thoroughbred who taught her a lot. Courtney took him to Lake Erie College in Painsville and graduated in four years with a degree in Equine Business.
It was in college that Courtney discovered dressage and thought that it was the perfect match for her. She competed on her colleges’ dressage team and placed 9th in the nation for Intro. It was only after college that Courtney found Michelle, and the two of the immediately began to form a trainer-student relationship, and she has been riding with Michelle ever since. A little over a year ago, Courtney found a fantastic mare named Gypsy. The Draft paint mare is currently with Michelle doing extremely well at dressage, improving straightness and her overall suppleness and level of energy. Courtney aspires to have a training facility of her own to aid her in helping people achieve their goals, just as Michelle has.
At the age of 2, Robyn received the most unforgettable birthday present – a pony. Ever since that day she was hooked for life and never looked back. She is all the way from South Africa, and came to America to look for a training yard to help her in the discipline of Dressage and to take her up the levels. Robyn has a very heavy Show Jumping back round, so making the change over to Dressage was quite a challenge. She competed in many disciplines from Showmanship to Hunter to Eventing and Show Jumping and then eventually to Dressage. Her hunger grew to train horses as she grew older and got more involved in the sport. She successfully competed in the Show Jumping ring up to 4.6ft, winning many states and national titles. She started as a trainer at the age of 12 for hunters and jumpers. This income allowed her to save up for an off the track thoroughbred, which she successfully trained up to third level, allowing her to achieve her Professional Junior Rider status.
Her passion for horses and her love to learn from them far exceeded her “homesickness”. She traveled half way across the world to improve her dressage and has successfully done so with the help and dedication provided at the LaBarre Dressage Training Center. She said, “I don’t believe I could have a more constructive environment to learn from. I am extremely happy and satisfied with what I have learned, and the opportunities I have been given.” Robyn was afforded the opportunity to compete at the Thoroughbred Makeover competition held in Kentucky in 2015, where she finished 8th in her class out of 34 riders.
Sammi first found her love for horses when she was in middle school, attending Cran Hill Ranch for summer vacation. She started out western and took lessons for a few years, until her parents bought her an off the track thoroughbred named Cooper. It wasn't until she had formed a connection with him that she realized that she needed horses in her life forever. Cooper not only taught her how to be a good rider, but also how to stay on! It wasn't until high school that Sammi really started to love dressage. As of 2106, she is a junior at University of Findlay with an Equine Science major. She is part of the University's IDA varsity team, and was first in the region and second in the nation in 2015, also earning a German small bronze medal in December of 2015. Now she wants to follow her dreams and become a dressage trainer. She loves connecting with horses and creating something beautiful. Frederick Magazzeni, one of her coaches at Findlay, referred her to LaBarre Dressage.
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.
She began her riding career in the hunter/jumper ring and always competed at local horse shows. Around the age of 16 she became obsessed with the thrill of eventing, especially the dressage aspect of it, leading to the search for her now 10 year old American Warmblood partner Romeo. She knew she wanted her new partner to be un-trained so that she could take on the challenge of training him up the levels herself with the help of a professional trainer. She wanted to focus on learning about the biomechanics of horse and rider, to develop a tremendous feel from the saddle and a sharp eye from the ground. Her dream is to one day own and operate her own dressage training facility and continue to be a competitive rider in pursuit of her dressage medals and other rewarding accomplishments throughout her career.
Kristen has started her own training business called Monaco Dressage. She brings the theory of classical dressage to all of her students to help solve training problems and achieve a better partnership with their horses. Correct biomechanics constitutes correct basics which is important for every horse and rider to know, whether they’re eventers, hunter/jumpers or pleasure riders. Kristen continues to train with Michelle on a regular basis and will be competing all season long. Although she’s pursuing her professional dressage career, she can also be seen eventing once in a while throughout the season as well.
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.
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 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.
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!