What Our Clients Say

Testimonials from Michelle’s clients:

“When I moved to Brooksville in 2008 I was resigned to limiting my riding to the trails. Then I found Downeast Dressage and life began again. Dressage in the Blue Hill Peninsula?!  Michelle is a true teacher who loves to teach, loves her horses, and has given me more in 6 months than I’ve found in years of riding lessons. Each lesson is fun, individualized, and builds on the previous ones.  And for the first time and can feel the horse and I as one.  What more can I ask for?”

-Ellen Harford, Brooksville, ME


“Over the course of five days of intensive dressage lessons, I spent two mornings with Michelle Coad, on a lunge line to improve my seat.  Except for one misguided lesson on a cranky horse, the last time I’d been on the lunge I’d been a kid learning how to ride, so I approached the experience with a sense of, if not impending doom, at least certain embarrassment.  Michelle’s intention was to start to make me a better, more secure rider.  The horse I was on was a steady mover and Michelle kept him going forward while she worked with me, encouraging me to find my balance and challenging me with interesting exercises, a far cry from the touch your nose and put hands on hips of the pony days.  Over just two lessons, I found I was sitting deeper and more securely, and felt, quite literally, completely comfortable rein-less.  Michelle has a wonderful talent for explaining what you need to do, for seeing where you are, and knowing what to say at just the right time to make a difference.  Although the lunge lessons are the only ones I took from her — although we had a wonderful hack through the woods together — I would recommend that you seek her out and work with her. You will get better.”

– Lynn Butcher, East Aurora, NY

“Michelle is an inspiring instructor. Her communication skills are excellent–she uses effective images to get her points across and is tremendously encouraging throughout the lesson. I love the way she relates to her horses and to her students–with kindness and clarity!”

–Alice Lichtenstein. Oneonta, NY


“Michelle is an expert instructor with an impeccable eye for detail and the ability to pinpoint small changes in a rider’s position that translate into big results. She is thorough in rebuilding a rider’s position for maximum effectiveness. What I really appreciate about Michelle is that when she tells you to do something she also tells you how to do it, in as much detail as you need. Riders don’t often get the level of detail and specific instructions Michelle provides. She has great energy and enthusiasm, using creative exercises to make training fun. From every lesson with Michelle I take away several “nuggets”; specific exercises and position fixes that are easy to remember and practice at home. If you want to improve your seat and thereby your horse’s performance, train with Michelle.”

-Carol Schur, Lamoine, ME


“A lesson with Michelle Coad is time well-spent! I had an opportunity to take several lessons with Michelle this past summer in Georgia. Michelle’s passion for horses and classical dressage is evident from the get-go.  She has an exceptional talent for clearly communicating specifics for developing better rider position and seat aids. Michelle uses logical sequential steps, visual imagery, and a sense of humor to help the rider become more effective– while also taking into account both the rider’s and horse’s natural strengths and weaknesses.   Thank you, Michelle, for your help in making some big changes in my riding!”

-Deb Young, GA


“An ad for Downeast Dressage caught my eye in the Island Advantage. I liked it. I liked the logo; I liked the two words together; I liked the brief but informative description of what Michelle proposed to offer a person and his/ her horse as a unit. Six months and several sessions later, I am happy to report that the mindfulness of the advertisement which first attracted me extends into the trio of activity itself, conducted by Michelle with Cisco and me. I am a backyard trail rider with a penchant for riding “better” in all the elaborate ways a competitive dressage person is wont to describe – for the good of the horse, myself, and the great feeling it creates in us together. Michelle’s energy, focus, excellent communication skills, and passion for the discipline are all the right stuff for the business of horses and people. I wish her good luck and a stream of appreciative clients.”

-Carol Collins, Deer Isle, ME


“You don’t have to be a dressage student to benefit from the techniques Michelle Coad uses building you a balanced seat – the foundation for any riding discipline.  She is a great teacher, with talented horses, and you will enjoy every minute!”

-Mary Jane Callinan, Brighton, MA


“I come from a professional horse background and can strongly recommend Michelle’s teaching. It had been several years since I had ridden, and getting back into the saddle at age 73 was no easy feat, but I felt very safe on her well-schooled horses. As a former hunt seat rider with little dressage experience, Michelle has a real ability to help me comprehend and understand the differences, and the reasons for these differences, between hunt seat and dressage seat. I felt real progress in all my lessons, her ability to analyze and explain what I was doing, made these lessons a real pleasure.”

– Marilyn Schroer, Deer Isle, ME  



“Michelle is a unique teacher. She observes you  riding your horse and very clearly helps you understand the correct way to ride. In order to instruct me better she rode my horse, which gave her the ability to teach me the things I needed to do to properly ride my horse. Michelle has wonderful skills she communicates with you! It is a pleasure to ride with her when she teaches.”
-Bea Wilson, Atlanta, GA


“As a senior rider and student I find Michelle to be articulate and patient. Through her, I have learned how to communicate more effectively with my horse”

-Susan Macnair, Penobscot, ME


“Michelle is always willing to do whatever it takes to understand unique riding challenges of each horse and rider she instructs.  She rode my horse during one of my lessons which enabled her to feel the movements of his gaits, model effective riding skills, and clearly communicate what I need to do as the rider.  Even though I might have heard these suggestions before, her lesson and instructional techniques made them simple to understand and more easily accomplished.” 

-Helen Taliaferro, GA


“Michelle helped me to understand the importance of my seat and how it affected my ability to get the horse in front of my leg and to understand the concept of opening my hip so that the horse has a place to go.  These things also influenced my discovery that I could move the horse laterally with my seat.  Michelle also helped me with the “feel” I needed to move with the horse in sitting trot.  My horse is moving so much more freely and happily now.  Thank you, Michelle!”

-Marilyn Donahue, Blairsville, GA