Cheryl Meisner Open House

Cheryl Meisner is a very talented and accomplished Nova Scotia dressage rider sponsored by John Risley, a  successful Nova Scotia business man. She trains and shows in Europe and is currently back in Nova Scotia for a period of time. She's Canada's 5th ranked dressage rider I think. She and her sponsor did the open house today at his beautiful facility in Chester (for free) - so nice. There was a great turn out and everyone loved it.
Although only in her mid twenties at the time, she narrowly missed being on Canada's Olympic team in 2008. Here's a bit of background on that.
She rode a 31/2 year old schooling training level and a 10 year old Grand Prix horse, Tango. Both were beautiful. She talked as she rode, explaining her training as she went and it was really interesting, informative  and helpful. I was really happy to see that her horses were in front of the vertical. I watch training videos ( and almost all the horses, even three year olds, are well behind the vertical). I want to write down some of the key pieces while I'm thinking about it.
I loved watching the GP horse perform. He is so talented and 'on'. She went through a series from 4 tempis to 3 tempis to 2 temis to 1 tempies, crossing the diagonals one after the other for each set. There wasn't a second of anticipation or a foot set wrong. Each series was perfect. Wow. So often I've seen horses start to anticipate in the tempis and change on their own. Not this horse and rider. Also, she makes it look easy.
What really impressed me was that she rode the GP horse in a single bridle in the same very mild snaffle bit she used on the 3 year old, and this horse is quite hot and in Cheryl's own words "not an easy ride". He went perfectly though - many wow moments. I've seen it suggested that upper level horses shouldn't be required to wear double bridles in competition and I have to say I agree. Actually, while I'm on that topic, it would be great if bits weren't required at all if that's what the rider wanted.
The young horse was my main interest. He was very forward, so I asked her in the question period if he'd always been that way, or if she'd trained him to be that way. She said he started very forward, then backed off and didn't want to go forward (a buck, a kick at her leg when it went on, etc.) and she corrected him strongly and quickly (a strong kick I think is what she said) and he got over it quickly. She said when you nag at them with half hearted corrections the problem doesn't get fixed and then you're in a situation of small corrections all the time.
He was such a sweet horse for being so young. It was his first time in front of a crowd of people and she got on and rode without even lunging him and he was super.
I noticed he was cantering like Rogo does sometimes. I don't know how to describe it - he threw his head a bit (Rogo's only done that once, a couple of days ago), and he seemed not to be that steady at times. Seeing another young horse do this made me realize it's just a natural young/green horse thing, not a problem.
Cheryl talked about the importance of forwardness and how lack of forwardness is the cause of most problems or trouble. Keeping the young horse forward and keeping the head up is the key to stay out of trouble with a young horse. When asked what one of the biggest challenges of training a young horse is, Cheryl responded "fear", which got a big laugh. It made me feel better, because I've sure felt that at times when starting Rogo. If a rider like her faces it too, I guess I can forgive myself. She did make clear that this young horse doesn't trigger fear because he has a very good mind (as does Rogo).
After the open house Doug went home and I went to the barn and rode. To make a long story short, it evolved at the barn that we're going to bring our horses home the end of March. Yeah! Rogo was great:
  • I lunged him and his trot is really improving
  • Trot under saddle could have been more forward, but it's improving
  • He's very good at bending
  • Contact needs more work, especially in the canter, and somewhat in the trot, but we're working on it every ride
  • Canter transitions up and down are slightly improving, but need work
  • He did a great canter across the diagonal and change of lead back into the canter, three times in succession. We hadn't done this in a couple of months so I was happy with that
  • We did a little shoulder in and it's coming slowly (be we don't work on it much)
  • He has the leg yield at the walk now, but not the trot. Boy this is painfully slow, but coming.
That's it. Thanks for all the great comments on the past post. It was fun to write and I'm going to follow up on some of the ideas.


    Dom said…
    Awesome, awesome, awesome. :)
    Oak Creek Ranch said…
    What an interesting clinic. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Funny how important forward is. My trainer told me that the most important thing in teaching Jackson straight is forward. I guess it's easier to be straight if you are forward and just about impossible if you aren't.
    Anonymous said…
    So glad you got to go to that clinic, thanks for sharing it with us.
    I see the same head bob in the canter with Cass and when I first got her it was TERRIBLE. I read somewhere that as they develop and get off the forehand that will stop.
    Riding Cass, who is really forward, and then some of the school horses that have to be driven constantly, I like the forward!
    Anonymous said…
    Thanks for the report! It's so wonderful to see an upper level rider using correct principles rather than looking for the shortcut of rollkur, that just produces horses who move incorrectly and don't carry themselves properly from behind.

    Canter work will young horses takes time and strengthening of the back and hindquarters and comes along fine as the horse develops provided the rider doesn't worry about the head too much.
    That sounds like a perfect dressage day! Thanks for sharing :)
    This sounds like a great clinic and I like that her horse was in front of the vertical. And that she rode with a snaffle. I believe that you should be allowed to ride in whatever bit(or none) if your horse goes better. In my opinion less is more and if the horse is trained properly you don't need a lot of gadgets.

    Good work with Rogo when you got home. He's coming along nicely for a young horse.
    Achieve1dream said…
    Wow that sounds like a lot of fun. I bet you learned a lot. I always enjoy going to clinics because I always seem to learn something new. :)

    Keep up the great work on Rogo. It sounds like he's doing everything a green horse should do and you're working through it nicely. :)
    Jan said…
    Carol, That sounds like a wonderful clinic! I'm glad you got to ask questions, and she gave you some great answers, that can reassure you of your work with Rogo. Then you had a really good ride with him. Good boy! And great work by you!
    Dutch Hollow said…
    I just love clinics! You can learn so much as a spectator.

    Cute blog, love for you to share your stories on our Tuesday Linky at