MichaelLaurenGrandPrixMy coach, Michael Barisone, is a Big Deal Guy.

We’d met in passing a few times, but never had more than a superficial “Hi, how are you, nice ride,” conversation until I was at Gladstone a few years ago for one of the USEF Talent Search type things. I had Ella and Midgey, both on the brink of Grand Prix. I was 24 or 25, taking clinics here and there with whoever was around, all good people, but there was no single thread to my training, and I was deeply, terribly lost in the weeds.

I was sitting ringside, licking my wounds after two not-remotely-productive lessons, and Michael approached me. “Hi Lauren. Those are two nice horses you’ve got there,” he said. I thanked him, and he asked, “Do you, you know, have a plan for what you’re doing with them?” Not really, no, I said. “Well, who’s your coach?” he asked. I told him that I clinic with X and Y, and I rode in a lesson with Z last month, and blah blah blah.

And he said something I’ll never forget: “Look, I don’t know you, and you don’t know me. But you’re a talented rider with nice horses, and you need a person. And if you want, I’ll be your person. I’ll show up whenever you need me. I’ll be kind to your amateur ladies, and I won’t try and steal your horses or your clients. And I’ll be your guy.”

No one had ever said that to me before, and he’s made good on every promise. I’m writing this from the Regional Finals, where I had a tough school on Ella on Thursday morning, and texted Michael that everything was horrible and I was quitting, and he texted me back right away that it was all going to be fine, then gave me 24 hours to shake it off before calling me up to tell me that everything is going to be fine, to give me a few things to think about in my next schooling ride, to tell me it was OK that I have these little freakouts (I’m very consistent), and that he loved me.

He’s my guy.

Read the rest at The Chronicle of the Horse!