About Santa Barbara Equestrian Academy
and Michelle Freels


Michelle started riding at 7 years old and has been perfecting her riding skills for the past four decades.  Her first horse was an appalossa named Julip she purchased after selling a sheep in the 4H program at the county fair.  She became an 'A' graduate of United States Pony Club and did three day eventing to the Intermediate level.  She is now an accomplished Grand Prix dressage rider earning both her USDF gold medal and the USDF gold freestyle bar for competing in the Grand Prix musical freestyle competition with Wynnona whom she trained to the top level of the sport.  

An accomplished competitor in dressage Michelle has earned numerous championships over the years at both the regional and national levels at the highest level of the sport of dressage on horses she has personally trained, some from the very beginning of their tiny foal lives.

Now that she is based in Santa Barbara she has opened SBEA seeing the need for a horse riding academy teaching the basics of horseback riding communication and a foundation of a solid rider position as well as the advanced discipline of Grand Prix dressage to the community on her safe and talented school horses.  

The academy focuses on teaching a solid foundation both in the arena and out by educating students on all aspects of equestrianism from grooming and tacking up to parts of the horse and basic veterinary knowledge. 


Horses are very special animals and have been a part of humans lives for centuries.  The connections at the emotional level we can strike up with horses can be very nurturing and healing.  They are very honest creatures and have great insights for us to learn from...

Horses are great at teaching boundaries, kindness, love, trust and courage just to name a few of their brilliant insights.

Horses are full of surprises and never fail to challenge us. There are always new challenges whether you're an experienced rider or are just starting to learn how to ride. Learning new skills such as dressage or showjumping and riding a horse with a certain personality can always put our knowledge and skill techniques to the test.

Michelle has a great passion for horses and the equestrian arts and brings this joy and strength to her students and her horses.  Through kindness a willing connection can be enjoyed with the horse as a partner.