Arabians for Dressage - AmericanHorseman, Shirley Warren

American Horseman March 1974
Arabians For Dressage
Shirley Warren

Chuck Grant is one of the best in the nation.Bright Meadows is also one of the best in the nation. Put themtogether, and the combination is no less than great.

Chuck Grant is one of the few top-notchdressage trainers in the United States. At his home in Brighton,Michigan, he owns and manages one of the largest commercialdressage training stables in the country, having housed up to 33dressage hopefuls at one time. It was here that he and BrightMeadows teamed up.

In a field in which European breeds haveexcelled for centuries, Bright, a registered Arabian, could havebeen out of his element. Though boasting a bloodline filled withsupreme, national and world champions at halter and performance,dressage competence was not part of his birthright.

Bright Meadows, No. 21019, is a son of BrightDiamond, of Lady Wentworth's Crabbet Arabian Stud. He traces backtwice to the famed stallion Skowronek, and no less than 28 timesto Mesaoud, an earlier notable sire. Bright Diamond, sired byBright Shadow and out of Silver Diamond, also traces to Raswanand Naseem, Lady Wentworth's "ideal type of perfectArabian."

The Arabian is noted for his intelligence andgentility, but being a desert-bred horse, his stamina andendurance were of prime importance. Thus he was not usuallyconsidered for the artistry of dressage and was passed over infavor of many European breeds.

Now, however, there is a growing dressagerevolution in the ranks of Arabian enthusiasts, and BrightMeadows is going to help show the world that the Arabian indeedcan do it. An I l-year-old stallion, Bright's grace in motion isbreathtaking, and his response to imperceptible cues isfaultless. Never out of the money in American dressagecompetition, he is now at the Prix St. George level and is wellon his way to a possible Olympic berth.

He beat five Olympic competitors at theChicagoland Dressage Horse Show in 1969, taking a first insecond-level competition. Some of his other victories includeanother first in second level at the Centaur Farm Stables Show in1969; a third in the 1969 Bloomfield Open Hunt Kingsley Inn Cupat second level; a first in Prix St. George at the 1972 NorthernOhio Dressage Association Show; first in Prix St. George in the1972 Bloomfield Open Hunt and a second at the combination test atthe Colonel I. L. Kitts Memorial in the Detroit Horse Show in1972.

"I'm convinced that Bright is the bestArabian dressage horse in America today," says Chuck Grant."He's quick, he's willing, and I think he can go all theway."

Though Grant's professional status will keephim from riding in the Montreal competition, his highest hopesrest with the flashy gray stallion. Bright's owners, James andVirginia Perry of Jonesville, Michigan, arc also very hopeful.The Perrys have been raising Arabians for only six years, and asluck would have it. Bright Meadows was

actual training. The rest of the time he isused in breeding, but he always manages to come back with hismind on his work. He picks everything up quickly and enjoys it,so I push him a little; then we go back and smooth over the roughspots. The system works with Bright."

Though willing horses like Bright Meadows maketraining a joy for Grant, he says it still takes a life time ofdevotion to excel in dressage. "You really have to love thiskind of work to do it well. I became interested in dressage backin 1934 when I was in the Army. I worked with horses then andbecame interested in training them. At that time, these precisionmovements were only taught in the service, and in 1939 theirhorse divisions were being disbanded. 1 kept studying the artanyway, and decided to go into business on my own."

A native of Iron Mountain, Michigan, Grant hadintended to go to college and take up marine engineering afterhis stint, but the horse bug sidetracked him, and he's glad itdid. "I've never been sorry for a day I've put into thiswork," he maintains. "I love it now, and after allthese years I'm not going to change." Though he starts manyof his own horses at two, Grant says he expects the averageoutside horse to be three years old before he starts training."It takes only about a month to find out whether or not theanimal belongs in high schooling. Just about any horse can gothrough the basic levels but it takes extraordinary intelligencefor an animal to make it further. Then, too, the horse must havethe right mental attitude. The dressage horse must be moreobedient than any other animal.

For many horses that don't fall down inaptitude, the next pitfall is appearance. "In dressage,appearance is everything," said Grant. The horse must lookelegant, he must be graceful in every move. Strides must be longand even, and his body must flow as one beautiful unit. He mustperform 135 movements, and they have to be done with integrationand unity."

Though Grant has never had any trouble withstallions, he prefers mares for dressage training. "It'strue," he says, "that stallions have that certain sparkthat makes them just a bit flasher, but mares are vain. They loveto get out before an audience and really 'turn on,' so to speak.For this reason, they make excellent show candidates. They reallyenjoy their work."

Once Chuck has the right horse to work with,"I find that my biggest problem is that the animals, after atime, get too excited. If they're worked past the point wherethey get excited, they begin to make mistakes. If done for theright period of time, with the right mount, the training isn'ttoo difficult. Rewarding the horse with affection is a must, andhe learns to look forward to the pat on the neck and the 'welldone' from the trainer. I never bribe a horse-he doesn'tunderstand that-but he does understand approval."

Bright Meadows seems to understand Chuck Grant.His ribbons and trophies testify to his ability and spirit, andChuck will swear by his disposition. With a little bit of luck,and a lot of that Arabian stamina, he may just make it toMontreal.

Copyright 1996 by Shine-A-Bit Farm; Brighton,Michigan - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of text and/orphotos for commercial purposes is strictly prohibited