Help for Struggling Riders – Legged Up

“No one was there to help me get over falling off. I got myself back on in one week after a fall off my horse,” explains Michelle Harper of Legged Up Equine Conditioning. Michelle helps struggling riders who may be fearful of returning to the saddle . . . or getting into the saddle for the first time.

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The Fall off Her Horse

Michelle was about 45 minutes into her ride out in Parkfield. She was riding with a neighbor on a new track. “I asked my mare to lope . . . she came up like a nutcracker in action – seemingly breaking in half at the withers.” Thus Michelle, although she struggled to stay on, popped off and landed on her side, deeply bruising her ribs.

“I treated myself with Bemer and rested for a week.” After the short layup Michelle found herself, an experienced horse woman who worked horses for Tye MacDonald when he lived and trained in Paso Robles, fearful of getting back on. She had to come up with her own plan.

Returning to the Saddle

“I just got on and sat in the round pen. Then, I walked,” describes Michelle about the beginning of her own return-to-the-saddle journey. She understands the mental side of getting back in the saddle, of overcoming the mental fear of riding. Michelle has also grown struggling riders who lack the time to develop a safe horse, or don’t have the experience to handle the level of horse they own.

Michelle Helps Struggling Riders and Horses

Just like she did for her neighbor who was riding a horse that was too much for her. “The Appy mare did not want to listen to her rider,” explained Michelle. “So, we began with getting the horse to move away from pressure, to get the horse to listen to the rider.” The result was a happy rider on a happy Appy horse. The neighbor exclaimed, “You are making me do stuff I would never do. I am so happy. I’m riding my horse and making it respond to me!”

Helping Riders Who Don’t Have Time to Work Their Horses

Help for Struggling Riders

Sometimes riders just don’t have the time available for progressing their horse or getting it into condition for horse campout or event. This was the case for Tina who found riding time difficult with her full-time job. Michelle took Tina’s young mare for thirty days. Tina needed a horse she could manage without getting run over.

Help for Struggling Riders

Using groundwork as the basis for the training, at the end of those thirty days Tina’s young mare could tie, lead, stand to be bathed and groomed, have hooves picked out plus load in a trailer and manage being a horse by herself. Tina was so grateful to have a useable horse to progress with.

Introducing Riding to Adults

Ken was a big guy and a heavy equipment operator in his forties. He approached Michelle wanting to learn how to ride. He consistently came out to her place and rode a horse Michelle had available. Soon he bought his own horse and then one of Michelle’s saddles. He was bitten by the horse-riding bug and continued to enjoy saddle time.

Another mid-life crisis rider, with no experience, decided to add horses to her life. She had some physical challenges, but worked at getting herself into the saddle. “I told her if she couldn’t put her foot on the bathroom counter, we couldn’t start to ride.” Soon the woman was able to commit to once-a-week riding at Michelle’s place.

Eventually she began to attend gymkhana events as a spectator which gave birth to her purchasing a tack trailer and selling equipment at the events. She then built and managed a mare motel on her property. “This woman really became engaged in the horse community!” expressed Michelle. “Her husband held me responsible for turning her into a horse-crazy woman!”

Help for Struggling Riders and More

Help for Struggling Riders

Struggling riders are not the only ones Michelle transforms, she also turns horses around who need focused training or legging up for a big ride or event. She also manages medical lay-ups and provides short term boarding and exercise for horses while an owner is on vacation.

Michelle Gets You and Your Equine Partner

Michelle gets you. She has worked through her own fear. Sometimes you need a little boost – a leg-up – to get over fear of riding alone, a young horse, the trails, long distance, at a horse show or riding with others.

So, whether you as a struggling rider need an extra leg-up to get back into the saddle, or into the saddle for the first time, or your horse needs some focused training or legging up conditioning, Michelle is your gal. Legged Up is here for you and your equine partner. Contact Michelle via e-mail: or phone: 805-550-9912

Get going! Looking for trails to ride in SLO County? This hotsheet will get you going on a few of the top rides. Get this delivered to your e-mail and join the SLO Horse News herd to stay up-to-date on herd happenings. Click here > SLO County Trails Hot Sheet to get going!

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