You heard right Maura! I totally agree.
While he is brutally honest, he actually has a great sense of humor and I don't find him harsh or rude. It's not exactly thick skin you need as much as a strong desire to learn and do well. He has extremely high expectations but how are we supposed to excel as riders without them? He expects 110% out of everyone and will really only cut you down if he feels like you're being cocky or not paying attention. Then watch out! He's even been more patient then I would have expected in certain situations. But he mentioned in a trainers symposium that he likes his students to be a little afraid of him so if you get too comfortable he will yell. Although once I did an exercise and I don't know where my brain was but I made a ridiculously stupid mistake and he just looked at me and quietly said, "I expected more from you..." OUCH!!! So much worse then yelling! Also, if he really likes you he will be especially harsh. If he doesn't spend very much time with you it probably isn't a good sign. He is good about compliments too. No, he won't lavish praise, but he will tell you when you're doing it right and him telling me I was a good student was one of the best compliments I've ever had!
HeyMcKate- He LOVES Tbs!! He gives a spiel at every clinic I've been to about how we need more thoroughbreds, we need more blood, more brilliance, less of the big clunky slow warmbloods in America... If there's a TB in the group he always talks about how much he loves TBs.