Saturday, November 5, 2011

Clinician Michelle LaBarre Shares Tips on Training Youngsters

Sydney and Twinkle in the lesson.
“That’s the secret to good riding: You have to be a leader, and you have to show off a little!”  

That was what dressage clinician Michelle LaBarre called across the arena to Sydney Stringham.  Sydney had just achieved a particularly nice canter on Twinkle, an 18-year-old Morgan mare, and Michelle’s words were part of a compliment for Sydney’s good work.

Michelle, a well-known dressage clinician and trainer from eastern Pennsylvania, had stopped at Foxwin Farm in Chemung, NY, to give some lessons as she traveled through the area.  Michelle’s background and current activities can be seen on her web page,

In addition to helping Sydney achieve a successful ride on the energetic liver-chestnut Morgan, Michelle gave a lesson to Foxwin partner, Trish Pierce, who started riding her four-year-old Morgan gelding, Sherman, this year.   For Sherman and Trish, much of the ride focused on one aid: Inside leg. 
Trish and Sherman focus on "inside leg."

Keeping it simple is critical when training young horses under saddle, Michelle said after the lessons, with consistency being the key to success.

“Black and white,” she said.  “Pick an order of progression. Young horses can’t focus on too much at once.  So make it inside leg, before outside rein.  I teach them one thing.”

And when teaching that one thing to a youngster, she went on to say, make it big. 

Sydney listens while Twinkle gets a stretch.
“It’s just like little kids.  When you teach them the alphabet, you teach them great big letters.  It’s not until years later they will start writing smaller, better.   You can’t start with the finessing. That's later.”

Trish, grooming her sweaty gelding after the ride, said her lesson with Michelle was just what she needed at this point in Sherman’s training.   

Nice trot, Trish!
And if Sherman was tired and sweaty after the workout, he better get ready for more. Michelle recommended that Trish work her way up to riding him three successive days, with one day off, so it’s a good bet that Michelle’s recipe for young horses of “more rides, less duration” will be part of his immediate future.

You can check out Sherman’s progress on Trish’s blog, or at Foxwin’s webpage,
Final thoughts at lesson's end.

Those interested in learning more from Michelle can audit one of her upcoming clinics in Honeyoe Falls.  See the big calendar, at the right of this blog.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, it's all about a laser-beam focus of concentration on the one thing that needs attention, but presented in the context of the larger picture. Michelle is pretty delightful at bringing you both of those elements. Thanks for coming today, and nice writeup!