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Michael Etherly Dressage

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Michael Etherly


Magazine AdAppearing in the June 2008 issue of California Riding Magazine:

Successful trainer and rider steps out on his own to fulfill his own ambitions and those of his clients and owners.

In setting up shop for himself at his new farm in the Portland, Oregon area’s Oregon City, well-known dressage trainer and rider Michael Etherly is tracking nicely down center line toward his lifelong goals. At the 30-acre, horse training center, he is poised to meet the needs of his clients and horses while also pursuing his own path toward the international arena.

A native of Oregon, Michael has worked with Steffen Peters for 10 years and considers the Olympian a major mentor. While earning USDF silver and bronze medals, Michael has brought students and horses along to impressive levels. Well-known dressage supporter Karin Reid Offield earned her USDF gold, silver and bronze medals under Michael’s tutelage, and several students have earned their silver and bronze milestones under his watch. He is equally accomplished with horses and has taken at least a dozen to success at the FEI levels. First Solo is a recent graduate of Michael’s program. The mare is currently competing at Grand Prix with Jennifer Schrader, a former working student of Michael’s.

Although Michael’s own sights are set on the international Grand Prix arena, he welcomes horses and riders of all levels, even those who opt not to compete. “I get the same enjoyment when a horse or rider figures something out, no matter what level they are at,” he says.

Michael had been training at the Vaughn family’s Starr Vaughn Equestrian Center until April 2007, when he fulfilled a long time goal of operating his own business. Since leaving Harris Farms, Michael's new farm is the perfect place for the next stage of his career. Irrigated pastures and turn-out pens and lovely trails throughout the property create a great life for horses. “They really seem to come down a notch here,” reports Michael, who often includes a half-hour trail ride on the front or back end of a schooling session. “It’s very important to do something outside of the ring,” he comments.

Boarding at Michael's new farm is available only to those in training with Michael. Riding space is more than ample for the 5-10 horses Michael plans to maintain. The property has a large covered outdoor ring big enough for a full-size dressage court and a smaller fully enclosed arena for year-round training. The stable has room for 25 horses, and Michael intends to keep several stalls free for visitors. He has many clinic clients in his native Oregon, California and the Northwest and he looks forward to inviting them in for longer training sessions. The stable is located just 20 minutes from downtown Portland and 40 minuted from Devonwood, where top-flight dressage competition is staged throughout the year.

“Michael is a wonderful and generous individual, a phenomenal rider, and a talented teacher,” says Carolynne Smith, a trainer herself who began working with Michael two years ago. “The improvement in my riding has exceeded all my expectations. My horse is so much more focused and is now truly using himself.

“I have also been able to apply the principles Michael has taught me to the other horses that I have in training,” Carolynne continues. “I am continually amazed at the results! Michael gives you a vast toolbox from which to draw. Not only can he show you how it's done on the back of a horse, he can articulate it clearly and concisely from the ground. He is definitely a world-class rider, trainer, and instructor. And, he is also someone in whom you can put 100 percent of your trust.”

Michael has a knack for stallions and enjoys working with them. Preparing horses for their breed approvals, particularly in the Hanoverian line, is a one of many feathers in his professional cap. He is currently working with a 3-year-old by Offield Farms’ Hexagon Louisville, the stallion owned by Offield Farms, one of Michael’s former employers. With so much room on the property and in the barn at Harris Farms, he is easily able to accommodate stallions and he hopes to have three or four in training on a regular basis.

In addition to working with Steffen Peters, Michael regularly seeks help from others at the sport’s highest levels. Christine Traurig, Michael Poulin, Robert Dover and Debbie McDonald are among the luminaries he clinics with. He describes the late Dietric Von Hopffgarten as one of his biggest influences during the formative phases of his career. Michael’s place in the region’s dressage community was nicely reflected in his selection as a demonstration rider for last fall’s USDF FEI Level Trainers Conference with Jan Brinks.

For more information on Michael Etherly Dressage, visit www.michaeletherly.com or call 916 807 0001.