About Michelle Just
A native New Yorker, Michelle pursued her equine career after High School and received her Associates in Animal Science in Cobeskill, NY. She then went on to get a BA in Agriculture at Murray State University in Kentucky in 1990.
It really didnít come as much of a shock when, on graduating high school, Michelle told her parents she would like to go to school to pursue a horse career. They understood that this was a real calling and encouraged her to follow her dreams. She received an Associate Degree in Animal Science from State University of New York Cobleskill and a Bachelors degree in Animal Science from Murray State University in Kentucky. During all of these college years Michelle competed on the Intercollegiate Equestrian Teams. She received scholarships to ride while in Murray State and also qualified for Zone Competition in jumping at the Intercollegiate competitions, being named Hunt Seat Rider of the Year in 1990.
A major turning point in Michelle's life came when she was involved in a terrible car accident that killed her brother Gary, 26 years old, and left her with a fractured pelvis and spine. She was left confined for quite some time but her 19 year old bones healed and she went from wheelchair to walker to crutches. This episode and its terrible strain left Michelle acutely aware of the fragility of life. The thought of never being able to ride or jump again weighed on her. She had been given a second chance in life and was determined to use it to the best of her ability.
After graduation Michelle moved to the Sunshine State to pursue her dreams. At one of the local Arabian Horse shows she caught sight of a beautiful horse and rider combination in the dressage area. The rider and now a friend, Lee Avera, rode in complete harmony with her horse and it was thrilling to watch. Michelle had been a pure hunter/jumper rider to that point but all that was about to change. Literally only days later fate brought her to the farm where Lee rode, Everglade Arabians. Michelle was answering an ad in the newspaper for a part time job. Two wonderful people now came into her life and opened the doors for the rest of her career. Charlie and Suzanne Stuart took her under their wing and gave her the opportunity, support and guidance to reach her goal of being a great rider and trainer. Michelle was in the right place!
After several years of working full time as a dressage rider and trainer for Everglade, Michelle was given her first major challenge on a greenbroke horse by the name of Wistar Ananda, owned by two marvelous people, Tim and Sally Grissom, to whom she will always be grateful. They purchased Wistar, had faith in Michelle's ability, and allowed her to take him up the levels. They attained a National Reserve Championship at First Level, a Top Ten at Second Level and a Regional Championship in Show Hack. Wistar also gave her the first leg up in her quest for medals by helping Michelle attain the scores she needed at Third Level for the Bronze.
Then there is the most wonderful mare in the world, EA Novette. This horse has taught Michelle so much Ė timing, aids, perseverance and patience. Novette was brought out of retirement and was none too pleased to find that she was back in full swing competition. Michelle had to recondition her, and then convince Novette to help her through the difficulties of upper level movements including Piaffe, Passage, Canter Pirouettes and flying changes every stride. Day in and day out they would work on it and in the end Novette rewarded Michelle when she became a better and better rider. In 1999 Michelle obtained the Silver Medal for rider excellence through Prix St George and in December of 2001 she received her Gold Medal reaching the prescribed scores through Grand Prix. Michelle is grateful to Novette and Suzanne with a special thanks to the late Charlie Stuart, all of whom were so supportive of Michelle's dreams.
After taking time off to get married and start a family, Michelle is now back in the saddle and ready for action.
One of the great parts of dressage is that it is never without challenges. Even with her Gold medal there is so much more Michelle wants to do. Continue to perfect her own riding, work for greater effectiveness in the horses that she trains and especially to give to her students from the wealth of information that she has accumulated.
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