Just curious if you ever rode for Michael? In any case, feedback for potential future thread visitors:
I caught this thread just tonight but my daughter had a Morgan similar to yours about 15 years ago. She was 13, wanting to compete novice horse trials (training 3 and 4), and her trainer was having no luck with helping my daughter to get him to stretch through his back and get round. The horse was permanently upside-down. My best friend had brought Michael in to do some clinics. I didn't ride anymore so my friend insisted my daughter take one of the slots. My daughter liked dressage about as much as the typical 13 year old eventer but my girlfriend raved about how Michael was different and worth my child coming to. My GF had ridden with him in the past.
Michael had my daughter's problem fixed within 20 mins. She only took one lesson. I coached her by regurgitating what Michael said until we could find a new trainer, and maintained the progress. She cleaned up at the next show, finishing on her dressage score which was in the 70's (dressage score equivalent). I watched every ride that day. EVERY rider/horse combo showed dramatic improvements. Between my daughter and myself we've attended many, many clinics, often by very big names (Barisone was not that big back then -- no Olympics yet, and not even close to $300, maybe $60?). Michael has easily been the best clinician of them all. If you have $300, I'd pay it and take the lesson with him. You'll get more out of it than 5-6 lessons with somebody else. He has a gift of having the eye for what's wrong AND the ability to also explain the problem and how to fix it in terms the rider understands and is able to execute successfully. You'd see less effort from the rider who was in better harmony with a happier, more relaxed horse. Finally, most of Michael's riders that day were lower level, training and maybe first level riders. He does very well with inexperienced riders.
I looked at the picture of OP's Morgan. Brought back memories of Morgo, my daughter's liver chestnut (actually was leased). She won a lot of blues with Morgo. He had a big trot with high knee action and a canter with lots of jump. He was also very sweet and quiet and was my physical therapy horse after a serious accident. I really hope OP rode for Michael, I bet he would have helped her immensely also.
If someone close is flying in Michael Baristone, I am surprised also close by there is not a selection of quality, effective trainers that are good with the basics. I used to drive 1-3 hours for lessons until I built an indoor arena and now host lessons and clinics. Do you have a place to host clinics and are there other riders in the same boat? It would be worth it to pool together and find a solid clinician that even with the plane fare, it would run about $75 a lesson. Just knowing how good my instructor is and I am sure there are others, I guarantee you would get as much out of it and could get much more for your money.
I took a couple lessons w/ him MANY years ago when he was still living upstate NY and probably wasn't well known. I only remember that the lesson was enjoyable and I learned some things. But wasn't a dressage rider by any description.
If he came somewhere in my vicinity, I'd love to try him again, now that I've got real dressage training and knowledge. But it would have to be two days, I don't see the point of doing anyone for just one ride.
We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........
Michael is very good, and to one of the previous posters - I have ridden with him many times. I agree that he quickly gets to the root of things and can make a transformational difference in one lesson for a rider who is able to absorb the teaching. This is less about level and more about openness and self-discipline.
That said, he will not tell you something you haven't heard before. He may tell it to you in a way that helps you better absorb it and at a time when it is most actionable. And he will keep saying it until you absorb it and do it consistently. So, some people may feel like they haven't learned a lot because they didn't do canter pirouettes and "airs above the ground" (nod to the epically enjoyable Peronace thread ). I would expect you would leave his lesson with new habits that will push your riding forward quite a bit.
I also agree that Vera and even Justin are less expensive fabulous options if able as well as the point that if someone is bringing him in near you, there is someone good to ride with.
I do also want to say he does not turn his nose up at any horse or any rider. Not a dressage snob. He will, however awe you (over and over again :-) ) with stories of his fabulosity and all of the big names he hob-nobs with - but they really are all to support his message and often help put a nervous rider at ease.
If you can easily afford it, do it and do 2 days - and get a picture with him. If its a real $$ stretch, audit, and find who brought him in and ride with them.
I scribed for his wife Vera over the summer at Lendon's Youth Dressage Festival (Michael was supposed to come but ended up having to how out at the last minute for, I believe, NAYJRC). She was WONDERFUL, and I wouldn't hesitate to lesson or clinic with her if the chance arose. Michael has given clinics in my area but it was pretty expensive; I don't remember why I couldn't audit but if he comes back, I'll be watching.