Grey Horse at The Ultimate Piaffe

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Immerbessor & Darrel

Trainers influences include Major Anders Lindgren, Alexandra Howard and most recently 5 star FEI Judge Lilo Fore.

Our students and trainers have earned multiple championships and awards. However, we believe the relationship and journey with the horse is the most treasured and remembered of all.

A characteristic of a good trainer is the ability to look at a horse and rider and decide what to adust to make an improvement or address a problem. One simple change may resolve ten other issues. That kind of understanding and ability to communicate, makes training less complicated, builds confidence, and makes for a happier horse and rider.

Major Anders Lindgren liked to say, "Every horse has something to teach us, and every ride is an opportunity to deepen understanding and advance our skills."

That sort of optimism requires clarity that comes with knowledge, experience and a solid working plan.

Understanding the Training Scale from the saddle, how each part (Rhythm, Suppleness, Connection, Impulsion, Straightness and Collection) mechanically work and relate to the other parts to create the motion of the horse, are the keys to developing our skills and confidence as riders. Applying those mechanics to training patterns and dressage tests (the tests really are constructed around the Training Scale)  bring clarity to the process.

Sharing that process is unique to each horse and rider. Michelle and Darrel tailor their program to the way individual riders learn as opposed to repeating the same instructions and expecting everyone to hear and learn the same way. We welcome riders of all ages and skill levels, and although we are active competitors, those not interested in showing receive the same support and attention as those that do.

More than twenty-seven years, teaching and training together, Michelle and Darrel's caring approach, humor, and pursuit of Anders expectation for each horse and every ride, create a supportive atmosphere for both horse and rider to enjoy developing their skills together.

Haul-In Lessons

Although The Ultimate Piaffe is a full care facility, it's not necessary to board your horse here to benefit from our trainers attention, haul-in students are always welcome. In fact some of our most successful competitors keep their horses at home, and schedule either a single haul-in lesson or plan to stay a few days.

No matter if you are boarding or hauling in , have goals that include championships or simply want a deeper level of communication with your horse, we encourage all levels of riders to commit themselves to gaining an understanding how their position and influence can help create a trusting relationship with your horse.

 Our trainers take pride in providing a safe and supportive atmosphere where at the end of each session the rider goes away feeling confident having worked towards a clear goal and has a plan of what to work on before the next session. For the horse it's essential that they trust the rider and the process. Our trainers help their riders unlock the potential of their horse without loosing the horses character. Nothing is more rewarding then having a horse be willing to work and to truly enjoy the relationship.

Gauguin's Ideal (Boo) & Darrel

Michelle and Darrel Purdy are most recognized for their family owned dressage training facility, The Ultimate Piaffe. Founded with Michelle's parents Carol and Victor Ives in 1986, The Ultimate Piaffe was a center of activity for dressage in Lake Oswego, Oregon for thirty years. The original plan for the facility didn't include standing the imported stallion Ideal and breeding premium Oldenburg sport horses. However, the addition of Ideal and his offspring created opportunities to meet and build relationships with influential trainers and riders from all over the world which benefited their own training program.

Beginning at age 5 Michelle's background includes multiple breeds and disciplines. Her introduction to dressage came from an event trainer she worked for, and once bitten she never looked back. She moved to California to live, work and train under USET team rider Alexandra Howard. Howard was one of the country's most influential trainers and has been credited for bringing along some of the west coast legends of dressage. Through Sandy, Michelle enjoyed a long relationship with the trainer of trainers Major Anders Lindgrin. Anders, a Swedish Calvery Major and Swedish Olympic team member worked with European and American riders and is recognized for helping to develop the USDF instructor/ trainer forums. Michelle rode in private and group clinics alongside USET members with Major Lindgrin leading her toward a promising future. Michelle competed to I-1 and trained through the Grand Prix movements.

Sadly, three failed back surgeries ended her competitive career and finally her ability to ride.

Darrel began training with Michelle soon after The Ultimate Piaffe was established. They married before the ODS Championships, September 1989, and left for their honeymoon immediately after. Beginning his riding career with Michelle and bi monthly clinics with Alexandra Howard, Darrel applied his natural athleticism and advanced quickly. Most recognized for starting and showing countless Oldenburg's both bred at home and sent to him for sales; the equestrian community became familiar with Darrel for bringing young talented horses to recognized dressage shows that were quickly sold after achieving high scores and wins. Then came his mother in-law's mare Gauguin's Ideal (Boo); the successful team brought home state, regional and USDF championships and high points to third level, but came to a heartbreaking end with the loss of the special mare.

Darrel now has two horses he and Michelle train together, that will stay with him throughout their careers. As well Darrel enjoys riding under some of the best dressage clinicians the world has to offer, including Christina Traurig, Conrad Schumacher, Lillo Fore and Anne Gribbions.

Michelle and Darrel offer a unique approach to teaching and training by combining their individual strengths and teaching styles to give students a more well-rounded experience. The two work with all levels and ages of riders. Many who started in their school horse program as juniors have moved through the levels to FEI championships. Some have not only earned championships and national rankings but gone on to become trainers in their own right. Though Michelle and Darrel enjoy competition their biggest goal is helping improve the relationship between the horse and rider. They pride themselves on offering a complete experience with comprehensive support that extends from coaching and riding to all aspects of having horses.

Gauguin's Ideal (Boo) & Darrel


Sabra Olson has waited a long time for this beautiful filly.  Sabra, formerly a resident of Michigan, was a 2006 winner in the ISR/Oldenburg N.A. auction.  By 2009 Sabra had moved to Colorado and Ideal frozen semen was shipped to Sabra.  In 2014 she had one straw of Ideal frozen semen left and she bred her mare, Trillion, with success.  The filly Iris was born July 13, 2015, after almost a 10 year wait for an Ideal offspring. The plans are to take Iris to an ISR/Oldenburg N.A. evaluation to have her registered.  Congratulations Sabra, your patience paid off. 


Joyce Ryder . . .

In making the transition from hunters to dressage I invested my time visiting the area’s dressage facilities as well as watching and taking lessons. Walking into The Ultimate Piaffe, I experienced a feeling I had not had before. It felt like family. Perhaps the fact that it's a smaller facility lends itself to a more intimate environment and the boarders, students, and staff completely supported each other. The horses, too, seem to benefit in being one of a handful instead of dozens. They were relaxed and confident in their stalls with not a cribber or stall weaver among them. I was even more pleased to see that the horses were turned out, some in small groups, others alone but each enjoying the freedom to just be a horse.

 From my first lesson with Darrel we just clicked and I felt like suddenly things started making sense. After each lesson I could reflect back and realize that not only did I learn something new each time but I understood the practical application of what I had learned and how it related to my dressage goal. Darrel understands how the rider influences the horse and has helped me to not just improve my position but to make a positive influence on my horse through my natural aids. I know I'm successful when I have communicated with the horse and she responds with willingness and clarity.

 I found my new home and have started on a wonderful dressage journey. Darrel is riding, training, and showing my gelding and while he comes along, Carol has generously allowed me to ride her lovely Oldenburg mare Boo. Michelle has been helping me build my relationship with my gelding Bessor on the ground with her in hand and liberty lessons. She teaches that in a herd of two I am the leader and that horses really do want to trust in their rider or handler to keep them safe. I've been riding and showing for years but this is the first time I've truly understood my horses and our relationship has blossomed.

Amy Vandenburgh . . .

I have been riding with The Ultimate Piaffe for over ten years and can testify to their constant efforts to go above and beyond in helping riders reach their goals while providing optimal care and attention for every horse. Owners/trainers live on site and keep a watchful eye over the horses 24 hours a day and respond to their every need. Whether your goals are to compete at a high level or simply improve your skills and enjoy your horse in a relaxed and beautiful setting, you will not find a more fulfilling and welcoming group of people to enhance your equestrian experience.

Charlotte Haines . . .

I have been a the Ultimate Piaffe for quite awhile and I love it. To begin, both Darrel and Michelle are excellent trainers and, even better, they really care about you and your horse. They and their staff are all very watchful of the horses boarded there and tend notice even the slightest thing that seems wrong so injuries (which always happen with horses) are found quickly and taken care of quickly. Recently, they have been making some improvements and now have a beautiful new sand arena outside as well as a new wash rack with warm water for Winter. There is always someone close by to keep an eye on things which is also nice. I think anyone interested in learning Dressage would be well advised to check this place out because the quality of the training is excellent and you can be assured your horse is being treated well.

Val Zeek . . .

The trainers, Michelle and Darrel, are very conscientious about the comfort level of both the riders and the horses. They want their students and equine to be competitive, but still have fun and enjoy riding. The horses boarded there are treated like family. With someone on the property at all times, the horses needs are seen at all hours of the day or night. I enjoy working with them and love the support and care they show me and my horses. I know that they will be in my corner at the shows, helping me get ribbons and go up the levels.

Michelle and Darrel are the nicest people in the whole world. whether you are serious about dressage, their horses, or just want some basic instruction they are there for you. nice clean facility, inside and outside arenas. their stud, Ideal, was even made into a Breyer horse--great recognition!!

    About us

    Instructor - Trainers, Michelle and Darrel Purdy co-operate their family owned  Dressage Training and Boarding facility, "The Ultimate Piaffe" in Lake Oswego, Oregon with Michelle's parents Carol and Victor Ives.

    Contact us
    The Ultimate Piaffe
    1180 SW Zivney Lane
    Lake Oswego, Oregon 97034
    503 317 8051