Our Story - Meet Michael and Emily Friedman
One of the nation’s top pony riders as a youngster, Michael Friedman took time away from riding as a teen, before attending and graduating from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and then earning a law degree from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William & Mary in Virginia. It was at William & Mary that he met and eventually married Emily Jebo Friedman, an accomplished junior rider in southwest Virginia and a member of the College of William & Mary Equestrian Team. Reacquainted with the sport after a 15 year absence, Michael took over assistant coaching duties with Emily and the William & Mary Equestrian Team in 1997, before passing the Maryland Bar Exam, leaving Virginia and beginning his career as a commercial litigator in one of Washington, D.C.’s top international law firms. After several years as a lawyer, however, Michael was not entirely fulfilled with his professional life, so he quit his law practice, and together with Emily they pursued their passion, opening Finer Points Farm, a hunter, jumper and equitation training and show barn in Montgomery County, Maryland. Their first facility was a 4 acre farmette, where they taught lessons to customers on Emily’s horses and ponies around a big tree in the bottom of their biggest pasture.
As a new professional horseman, and while Emily managed the farm, Michael took instructor positions at local lesson barns, where he taught hundreds of lessons a month to riders of all levels and horses of every ability. It was through these experiences that he began to develop his teaching and training methods. After successfully turning around several local lesson programs and creating successful show riders from beginner walk-trot students, the Friedman’s purchased land and built a top-notch training facility and 20 stall barn in northern Montgomery County, Maryland, where they could really invest themselves in bringing along horses and riders to compete seriously at the top of the sport.
Since its establishment nearly two decades ago, Finer Points Farm (“FPF”) has grown into one of the most successful and well-respected show barns in Maryland. FPF hosts, boards and trains some of the area’s top horses and riders. From FPF’s inception, Michael and Emily have dedicated themselves to creating a different kind of winning show barn. At FPF, customers are expected to work together, support one another and get along. Students are hand-picked to ride at FPF based on their commitment to their horses, to the sport and to working hard towards achieving goals. Customers are not expected to simply follow a pre-set course for finding a horse, participating in a lesson program and attending horse shows. Instead, each customer is evaluated individually; specific and personal goals are established, a personal riding budget is determined, and each student is left to determine their own level of dedication to the sport. Honesty, sportsmanship and commitment are the key principles stressed at FPF.
As FPF grew, Michael quickly grew into one of the Mid-Atlantic’s top professional riders, and he and Emily quickly created a barn full of top horses which came up successfully through the Baby Greens and Pre-Greens to win at the area’s biggest shows in the Green and Regular Working Hunters. Michael has ridden some of the nation’s best at Washington, Harrisburg and Devon, and he has been a consistent winning rider on everything from Baby Greens to Green and Regular Working Hunters, Level 0 Jumpers to the Level 6 and Mini-Prixs. However, just as he was breaking on to the national level as a show rider, Michael’s riding career came to an abrupt end with a medical diagnosis which made his continued riding impossible. Since then, Michael works exclusively from the ground, and Emily has taken on primary riding responsibilities at home and at the local and regional shows, where she has continued the FPF tradition of success.
As trainers, Michael and Emily’s horses, ponies and riders have qualified for, and won at, some the nation’s most prestigious competitions, including Washington, Harrisburg and Devon, the USEF Pony Finals and the Maclay Finals, as well as many state and local Medal Finals competition. On numerous occasions, Michael and Emily have been awarded “Trainer of the Year” or “Series Top Trainer” honors for their clients’ success in the show ring. In addition to training several Medal Finals winners, Michael and Emily have produced some of the nation’s best hunters and jumpers, including multi-win Grand Prix horses, Child/Adult Jumper Classic winners, and Junior/Amateur-Owner jumper Champions. From Baby Green to Working Hunter, from Pre-Child to Childrens to Junior Hunter, from Pre-Adult to Adult to Amateur-Owner Hunter, Michael and Emily have made successful careers out of bringing young horses and riders along from the most basic level of training to the top of the sport. As an experienced and respected Clinician and Instructor, Michael has shared his knowledge and understanding of the sport with hundreds of riders, giving dozens of Clinics throughout Maryland to private barns, organizations and other interested students, and offering his skills to build enormously successful show team programs at local lesson barns. He is also an experienced judge, course designer, and show manager.
At the biggest “A” and “AA” USEF competitions, FPF has turned to some of the very best riders in the country, including Winn Alden, Tom Brennan, Ian Silitch, Brooke Kemper and Deloise Noble-Strong, to carry the load and show FPF horses, a recipe that has produced dozens of hunter and jumper winners and champions at the “AA” level, including in the HITS series, as well as at Lexington, Swan Lake and McDonogh School. Beyond this success in the professional divisions, FPF’s junior and amateur clients have continued to accumulate dozens of Year-End Grand and Reserve Grand Champions, HITS Series Champions and Reserve Champions, Swan Lake Series Champions and Reserve Champions, as well as top honors at virtually every big horse show or series in the area that FPF attends – and those are only their accomplishments in the last couple of years. This year promises to be another great year for Michael and Emily and FPF, as many of their young horses and riders have matured and are ready for another Championship FPF season.