Monday, November 14, 2011

Dale and I - Myler Clinic in Quebec

It was a damp, miserable rainy weekend in mid-October but nothing was going to dampen my spirits on this occasion – I had waited long for this. I looked forward with anticipation on meeting Dale Myler after speaking with him all year. This was to be my major step of my Myler Bitting System technical certification. Months of preparing, Dale would do a clinic in Quebec sponsored by Jeff Carruthers, president of Cavalier Equestrian Inc.

Dale had arrived from Missouri Thursday evening and began the clinic at a hunter/jumper barn the following morning. (photo of Dale Myler. Photos courtesy Cavalier Equestrian Inc.)

The day would start with a detailed powerpoint presentation on the Myler Bitting System philosophy and the extensive research behind it, followed by evaluating a bunch of horses to see their bitting issues and recommending a solution. The transformation at the end of the day is the 'icing on the cake' for all who attended and witnessed.

My journey started Friday in Stratford where I meet Jeff and 2 managers from Cavalier. We were to be travelling companions. The rain never let up as we drove many hours to Mirabel. Upon arriving after a long day eager to rest, we had pleasantly found out that Dale and Richard from Cavalier had just finished for the day and were just sitting down to supper. The restaurant was famous for being the location of the last legal hanging in Quebec – a witch apparently.

I was anxious to meet Dale at last – like an eager student meeting their mentor. We all exchanged hugs and I immediately recognized Dale's professionalism, confidence, and ease with which he mingled with all types of people. Yet on top of that, Dale can be said to be one of the good ole boys from Missiouri. His southern accent recalled many a great story until regrettably time called us to turn in for the big day to follow.

My fellow travellers looked forward to the next day. I, however was a little nervous as my evaluation was to begin. I, along with Richard had the job of evaluating each horse then conferring with Dale as to the problem and then the bitting solution. Everyone watched the results.

Saturday was the day of reiners at the training barn of Gilles Godbeault. Setup was done. Presentation was good. A lot of new material since the last time I had seen it. Dale had a great sense of humour. As each rider would ride and present their horse, I would discuss the problem with Dale and recommend the bit that would improve the relationship with horse and rider. Training issues were not dealt with. The new bit would then be fitted on the horse and then the rider would ride the horse to see the change. (Photo of Dale and I adjusting the fit of the Myler combination bit)

Everyone in the arena would see the transformation. Time and time again, horse after horse would exhibit a more relax, calm way of going. Some horses you saw some measure of change, while others were dramatic – it changed and amazed everyone in the room. Dale was used to it.

Saturday night's supper was lively and again full of interesting stories from all over the world. It was easy to tell that Dale was at ease here among the french speaking people as he must be anywhere. He had recently returned from Brazil prior to this trip.

Sunday found our team at a facility where Linda Robert, long listed in 2009 for the Canadian Dressage Team, was training and riding. The process would repeat itself as in the previous day. Dale would customized the presentation for each group, this day focusing more on FEI and bitting rules – a subject Dale is quite passionate about. I was more comfortable this day since I had known the process but I had not evaluated such high end dressage, hunter and jumpers before. (photo of Josee riding a jumper for the first time with the new bit)

Jeff had asked me which day was more challenging, the first day with reiners (an event I'm most familiar with though my first day evaluating in front of Dale) or Sunday, a day with dressage and hunter, jumpers and being my second day evaluating. I felt that both presented their challenges but I found both days equally intriguing. I loved both days.

Dale said that every once in a while, there is a horse and rider that is adverse to the Myler Bitting System philosophy. It happens. Some people are very traditional and don't like change. It was into the early evening when this happened, after a long day, but we stayed and spoke with this rider at length. Dale even offered to have the lady resaddle her horse and work for as long as she needed.

After a long successful clinic, Richard and his wife Susan opened their home to us and prepared us a lovely meal. Linda had joined us, and together everyone enjoyed a great time. There is something to be said for a gathering of like minded people. And as always, Dale would pipe up with yet again another interesting tale of his. Hats off to Dale for his stamina.

As for me.... as I was seated in the SUV on the long driving journey back to Stratford, you could see me with a very big smile on my face, recounting everything that had happened, feeling ecstatic with my evaluation, humbled by the experience and eager for the future.

Upward and onward,
@KISS Reiners

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