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KATHY GRABER
Hummer - Trakehner gelding
Hot Wheels - Oldenburg Mare
Tajma Hall - APHA/Oldenburg Cross Gelding

I first heard about Michael in conversation with Kay Skillern in the fall of 2007. Kay said that Michael, this trainer with impressive credentials, had been working with several horses at her facility with outstanding results. Although she had invited me to come watch Michael work, I imagined he was ‘just another trainer’ and dismissed the idea. Then when I learned that there would be a clinic at Kay’s facility, I decided to stop by and watch – prepared to be unimpressed. I watched as Michael worked with several horses and riders. Surprisingly, I was actually very impressed by what I saw . . .but not enough to have him work with my horses!!! A month later, I attended the next clinic. Again, I was even more impressed by how Michael handled the horses, ending each session with the horse performing much better than when they started. I left the clinic with Michael’s business card. The very next day he was in my arena working with 3 of my horses. I have been in Austin for 17+ years and to date had not encountered anyone else whom I would have trusted to get on one of my horses!!!! This was a pretty big deal for me!!

Hummer had been through some rough years. He had OCD’s in both hocks which required surgery. Then as we were finally getting started under saddle, he began struggling with intermittent upward fixation of both patellae. Our progress was slow and not always steady. Hummer was unable to canter on the left lead. He was content to always take the right lead and was quite explosive when forced to take the left lead. He appeared to be in great pain. We had just completed another procedure to tighten the stifles and had started back to work when Michael began working Hummer. I often held my breath as Michael rode Hummer. This horse was very demonstrative in his reluctance to canter on the left lead. In each weekly session however, Michael was always successful in achieving the left lead canter, but initially it did not look like anything I would attempt to ride!!!. I was not at all confident that Hummer would ever be able to canter nicely to the left. As the weeks passed, Hummer slowly improved to the point where he couldn’t wait to show Michael that he could canter to the left. Now, Hummer canters beautifully in both directions. We are convinced that Hummer was not actually in pain; he just resisted because he had been in pain for so long that he was pretty sure that cantering left would still be painful.

  Michael was able to give Hummer the confidence he needed and that was a pretty huge achievement. Now Michael has a special relationship with Hummer and it is easy to see that Hummer is anxious to see Michael for his weekly visits!!

Hot Wheels is a total diva and positive that she should just be a pasture ornament. She has struggled with immune system deficiencies which ultimately resulted in training inconsistencies. Her form of resistance was to not move away from pressure and sometimes just not move at all – a very stubborn mare! Michael has very steadily worked through her idiosyncrasies and she is now very forward moving and willing (most of the time)!! Whereas it used to take me at least 20 minutes to convince her that we really were going to work, she is now ready to work and I think she actually enjoys it (most of the time).

Taj is a young horse who was unbalanced / stiff / hollow . . . .just plain dorky. In only weekly sessions, Michael has totally transformed Taj. He is now supple, soft and a complete pleasure to ride. His topline has totally changed with noticeable muscling in his neck and hindquarters. His lateral movements are progressing wonderfully and he is working flying changes. I have too many horses and it was my goal to sell Taj, but now I’m having so much fun working him that I may have to rethink selling him!!

In summary, I couldn’t be more pleased with what Michael has done for my horses. Over the years, I have had several bad experiences with trainers so I have started and trained all of my own horses and have been relatively satisfied with the results. However, ‘I’m not as good as I once was’ and encountered some problems that required greater depth of experience. Until Michael, I had not discovered anyone to whom I would entrust my horses. I was content to muddle along. Although, it was my intent to just have Michael help me get over some humps with these horses . . .I am addicted to our progress and am anxious to keep going!! It is doubtful that we will ever hit the show ring, but my pleasure is in the progress and we’ll keep going as far as we can!!

Photos by Kathy Graber

Hot Wheels Hummer Taj

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