Dressage Trainers Near Portland, Oregon

Hey y’all! I’ve done some searching on the forum for this topic, but many of the posts are older and I wanted to start a new thread. I am an adult amateur with a 12 year old Hanoverian gelding and am moving from Austin, TX up to Portland, OR this summer, and am starting to search for the right place to keep my horse, and the right trainer to work with.

  • I don’t mind a trainer who’s tough, as long as they’re fair and kind when not in ‘training mode’. I want to work hard and progress with my horse, and I want someone who’s also committed to helping horses and students move up the levels
  • I could do half-training on my horse, but would prefer not to have him in full training. I know this could be a dealbreaker for some high performance barns, and I could be flexible about this.
  • Conformationally, it is very easy for my horse to duck behind the contact or get in a false frame. I need someone who understands how to get a horse to come up and out, create positive tension, and be reaching towards the bit (and will keep me committed to riding this way as well)
  • My horse is 3rd level, and I’d like to keep him moving up the levels. He’s tricky and we’ve had some missteps, which is why we’re not higher, but he’s sound and I hope we have a long career ahead of him.
  • I don’t know how common this is, but my horse does best on 24/7 turnout, and I’d prefer for it to either be private turnout or with another horse. The less time spent in the stall, the better for him mentally and physically.
  • If anyone can offer specifics of what I can expect to spend on boarding, I’d appreciate it. Right now, I spend about $1k on board, not including lessons.
  • I don’t have a trailer at the moment, so I would probably not look for a trainer who only does haul-ins, but if this is a barrier to finding a good trainer, let me know.

Please let me know your recommendations or feel free to DM me. I was also trying to search for any facebook groups where I could connect locally, but I wasn’t able to (our GMOs in Texas have very active facebook groups)

For FB groups, this is the biggest one I know of centered around Dressage/HJ/eventing:

I can’t offer much in the way of personal recommendation as I’ve been out of the loop for a while now, but I’m SW outside of Salem. If you know where in/around Portland you’ll be living or working, that info might help if you don’t want to spend a lot of time commuting through traffic.

Thanks for the FB recommendation! I’ll see what info I can dig up from there.

My husband and I are still figuring out exactly where we’re going to live (looking at the Mt Tabor neighborhood right now), but I’m guessing I will have a commute to the barn no matter what. We like being in the city/easy walking distance of things.

I’m pretty used to being 35+ minutes away from the barn, and willing to go up to an hour (accounting for rush-hour traffic).

I was going to suggest Heather Oleson. Her barn is in Canby. However, I believe she is in Florida right now and I don’t know when she is coming back. She used to be local to me in Eagle and I loved her lessons. Challenging but fair to the horse and I made lots of progress.

Her website does not appear to be updated recently. You may be able to email her and inquire.

Susan

I no longer live in the area (and am an eventer), but Devonwood is a big dressage facility outside of Portland. I can’t speak to the training, but the facility is lovely and hosts lots of rated and unrated shows. I’ve heard good things about Julia Wolffe and Michael Etherly.

Maybe reach out to the Oregon Dressage Society?

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I highly recommend Kim Barker. She’s down in Corvallis (2 hrs south) but she frequently travels up to the Portland area to give clinics. She’s an L rated judge and is super positive but really constructive. She also does working equitation and she’s pretty down to earth. Not a good fit for boarding since she’s south, but definitely worth riding with.

I’m on the eventing side of things but I think finding a barn with 24x7 turnout is going to be really tough up here. The mud and rain makes even places with a lot of turnout still stall at night. If it’s a deal breaker it will probably be easiest to find a private barn that offers the turnout you need and then haul out to lessons or bring a trainer in. I would leverage the Oregon Dressage Society website, or ask on NW Sporthorse Party on FB. That’s more geared towards eventers and the like, but folks will likely have good recommendations.

Please be aware that traffic can be brutal. It’s no LA but most barns are located in Hillsboro/Newberg/Sherwood or Canby/Estacada/Oregon city. If you want to cap your drives at an hour you’ll need to choose the side you want to live on carefully. It doesn’t take much to go over that. Also tbh an hour is a super long commute at the end of the workday. I found living on the west side that I just couldn’t make riding at a barn near estacada work.

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Julia Wolffe, and she’s from Texas. https://www.facebook.com/JuliaWolffeDressage/
Heather Oleson, email her she’s responsive. https://www.heather-oleson.com/
Michael Etherly, altho I know his place is on the market (?? that’s all I know). https://www.facebook.com/Michael-Etherly-Dressage-183631278337590/

Might check with Laura Geck of Marianna Stables in West Linn, I’m not sure who’s doing dressage there now. It was Emily Anderson but she went to Florida last I heard. https://www.facebook.com/Marianna-Stables-1885004231527526/

Agree with others to check where you want to live and how far you want to drive. Boarding out here is insane these days, so get your feelers out now.

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I was going to recommend Heather as well. She is wonderful.
Sheilah

You’ll definitely run into challenges with the 24/7 turnout with our weather unfortunately. This valley area is super heavy with clay, and when combined with rain, is just a nightmare to manage.

I’d suggest Ashley Bertell and/or Brooke Voldbaek at Pirouette Enterprise. I think there is a third trainer there too. Beautiful new facility, I’ve just ridden with Ashley, she’s tough, but fair. I’ve made good progress with her. I’m an eventer who hauls in.