I’ve ridden extensively with three of Michael Poulin’s most accomplished students—I rode with Lendon Gray all through college; I was a working student for and have an ongoing friendship with Carol Lavell, and now for almost a decade I’ve trained with Michael Barisone—but somehow I’d never ridden with Michael Poulin himself. So when the team at Barisone Dressage invited me to ride with him in a clinic, I popped Elvis on the trailer and schlepped on up, though with some trepidation.

This is a HUGELY accomplished person, and while he’s also in my educational family tree, it’s also been a long time since I’ve ridden with someone besides my regular coach. What if he’s a mean, old dinosaur? What if he’s tough on my wonderful horse, who’s going brilliantly? What if he wants to change my plan and takes the train off the tracks?

I needn’t have worried. My lessons were vastly respectful of my way with my horse, and he didn’t try and reinvent the wheel for me. He adored Elvis (let’s be real, who doesn’t?) and was tremendously kind to him and considerate of his needs and his welfare. And he was just the right amount of tough on me, with a light heart and a twinkle in his eye.

Read the rest at The Chronicle of the Horse!