American Horseman March 1974
Arabians For Dressage
Chuck Grant is one of the best in the nation.
Bright Meadows is also one of the best in the nation. Put them
together, and the combination is no less than great.
Chuck Grant is one of the few top-notch
dressage trainers in the United States. At his home in Brighton,
Michigan, he owns and manages one of the largest commercial
dressage training stables in the country, having housed up to 33
dressage hopefuls at one time. It was here that he and Bright
Meadows teamed up.
In a field in which European breeds have
excelled for centuries, Bright, a registered Arabian, could have
been out of his element. Though boasting a bloodline filled with
supreme, national and world champions at halter and performance,
dressage competence was not part of his birthright.
Bright Meadows, No. 21019, is a son of Bright
Diamond, of Lady Wentworth's Crabbet Arabian Stud. He traces back
twice to the famed stallion Skowronek, and no less than 28 times
to Mesaoud, an earlier notable sire. Bright Diamond, sired by
Bright Shadow and out of Silver Diamond, also traces to Raswan
and Naseem, Lady Wentworth's "ideal type of perfect
The Arabian is noted for his intelligence and
gentility, but being a desert-bred horse, his stamina and
endurance were of prime importance. Thus he was not usually
considered for the artistry of dressage and was passed over in
favor of many European breeds.
Now, however, there is a growing dressage
revolution in the ranks of Arabian enthusiasts, and Bright
Meadows is going to help show the world that the Arabian indeed
can do it. An I l-year-old stallion, Bright's grace in motion is
breathtaking, and his response to imperceptible cues is
faultless. Never out of the money in American dressage
competition, he is now at the Prix St. George level and is well
on his way to a possible Olympic berth.
He beat five Olympic competitors at the
Chicagoland Dressage Horse Show in 1969, taking a first in
second-level competition. Some of his other victories include
another first in second level at the Centaur Farm Stables Show in
1969; a third in the 1969 Bloomfield Open Hunt Kingsley Inn Cup
at second level; a first in Prix St. George at the 1972 Northern
Ohio Dressage Association Show; first in Prix St. George in the
1972 Bloomfield Open Hunt and a second at the combination test at
the Colonel I. L. Kitts Memorial in the Detroit Horse Show in
"I'm convinced that Bright is the best
Arabian dressage horse in America today," says Chuck Grant.
"He's quick, he's willing, and I think he can go all the
Though Grant's professional status will keep him from riding in the Montreal competition, his highest hopes rest with the flashy gray stallion. Bright's owners, James and Virginia Perry of Jonesville, Michigan, arc also very hopeful. The Perrys have been raising Arabians for only six years, and as luck would have it. Bright Meadows was
actual training. The rest of the time he is
used in breeding, but he always manages to come back with his
mind 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 rough
spots. The system works with Bright."
Though willing horses like Bright Meadows make
training a joy for Grant, he says it still takes a life time of
devotion to excel in dressage. "You really have to love this
kind of work to do it well. I became interested in dressage back
in 1934 when I was in the Army. I worked with horses then and
became interested in training them. At that time, these precision
movements were only taught in the service, and in 1939 their
horse divisions were being disbanded. 1 kept studying the art
anyway, and decided to go into business on my own."
A native of Iron Mountain, Michigan, Grant had
intended to go to college and take up marine engineering after
his stint, but the horse bug sidetracked him, and he's glad it
did. "I've never been sorry for a day I've put into this
work," he maintains. "I love it now, and after all
these years I'm not going to change." Though he starts many
of his own horses at two, Grant says he expects the average
outside horse to be three years old before he starts training.
"It takes only about a month to find out whether or not the
animal belongs in high schooling. Just about any horse can go
through the basic levels but it takes extraordinary intelligence
for an animal to make it further. Then, too, the horse must have
the right mental attitude. The dressage horse must be more
obedient than any other animal.
For many horses that don't fall down in
aptitude, the next pitfall is appearance. "In dressage,
appearance is everything," said Grant. The horse must look
elegant, he must be graceful in every move. Strides must be long
and even, and his body must flow as one beautiful unit. He must
perform 135 movements, and they have to be done with integration
Though Grant has never had any trouble with
stallions, he prefers mares for dressage training. "It's
true," he says, "that stallions have that certain spark
that makes them just a bit flasher, but mares are vain. They love
to get out before an audience and really 'turn on,' so to speak.
For this reason, they make excellent show candidates. They really
enjoy their work."
Once Chuck has the right horse to work with,
"I find that my biggest problem is that the animals, after a
time, get too excited. If they're worked past the point where
they get excited, they begin to make mistakes. If done for the
right period of time, with the right mount, the training isn't
too difficult. Rewarding the horse with affection is a must, and
he learns to look forward to the pat on the neck and the 'well
done' from the trainer. I never bribe a horse-he doesn't
understand that-but he does understand approval."
Bright Meadows seems to understand Chuck Grant.
His ribbons and trophies testify to his ability and spirit, and
Chuck will swear by his disposition. With a little bit of luck,
and a lot of that Arabian stamina, he may just make it to
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