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Review of Kay Meredith at HHP in Indianapolis

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  • Review of Kay Meredith at HHP in Indianapolis

    Upon going to audit Kay Meredith at the Hoosier Horse Fair, I had heard mixed reviews, (mostly on this board.) The one "live" opinion I got was from someone I know and respect, and she was also not so positive in her opinon based on Meredith's riding. This friend is a very positive, optimistic person, so she then said that perhaps Meredith teaches better than she rides.

    So I went, excited and hopeful.....but was quickly, and I mean in less than 2 minutes, horrified, flabergasted, could not believe what I was hearing!!!!!!

    Within the first minute of her speaking the words that came out of her mouth were, "You can't do anything else until you get the horse's head down first, we worked on this yesterday and while we are walking you will work on getting your horse's head down."

    And HOW does one proceed to get the head down? She said and kept repeating, to keep the hands very low (so low that their arms were almost completely straight) and then hold your hand down and braced as hard as you can. No, sorry, I am not exagerating.
    And what did the horses do? Uh they braced back, and fought back constantly jerking their heads. And what did Meredith say to do, "Don't let him do that hold your hands down harder!"

    Arms are just about as straight as a board at this point, braced against the pommel for support and the horse flings his head more, starts marching backwards, and when stops, starts to paw in frustration and Meredith says, "Good let him fight." Anytime the horse flings his head, which alwasy results in rider's hands being jerked out of place an inch or so, was given a "Hold harder."

    Well, funny enough their necks are stronger than our puny little arms will ever be, so a continuous downward bracing hold is never F*#$%&# going to work. Well, on the occasions that it does, it leads to a false frame, yay.

    Let's not mention the fact that getting the flippin head down is a result of moving freely forward and engaging the hind end and the back, and a constant brace of the hands inhibits that action.
    Did she mention that at all, even a teensy weensy little bit, NOOOO. Not ONE word about moving freely forward, not even a HINT. Well I should have known, as she said in the beginning "You can't do anything else until you get the head down." And since that didn't happen with any horse, obviously there was no getting to anything else!!!!

    The whole lesson was on getting the heads down in this way, with NO progress. The rider, above whose horse starting backing up and pawing, was excused after about 20min or so of trying to get this horse's head down at the walk with no progress.

    This was the worst FRONT to BACK teaching I have ever seen, I thought I was in the freaking Twilight Zone. After about 45min two new ridres came in, I couldn't stomach anymore so I left at that point.

    I'm sure I will offend someone who is a fan, though you need your head thoroughly examined if you are, nevertheless I'll fasten my flame suit.
    Last edited by A Horse of Course; Apr. 2, 2007, 12:24 AM.

  • #2

    I must admit that I am disappointed but, having had students from"the manor" not surprised When I saw IHP I feared this would be another Pareli tread; Was she asked any questions? What was the general response of the crowd?
    breeder of Mercury!

    remember to enjoy the moment, and take a moment to enjoy and give God the glory for these wonderful horses in our lives.BECAUSE: LIFE is What Happens While Making Other Plans


    • Original Poster

      No one asked anything, it wasn't a big dressage crowd and it wasn't set up in a way for auditor questions. From people talking around me, there were those who were starting to dabble in dressage and so on.
      The HHF his mostly western, though dressage and H/J are there, just not in as high numbers, there were around a 100 people or so watching at various times, while I was looking around in disbelief I didn't notice anything but neutral looks on people's faces.


      • #4
        She is not alone!

        Sadly, /I know of at least threBNT FEI level riders in th emidArtlantic states who teach the same way, if the horse "fusses " the remedy is "leg " and if the horse still does not lower the head the rider ewho cannot sit the trot is given roweled spurs These people get big bucks#$ for their instruction instruction
        breeder of Mercury!

        remember to enjoy the moment, and take a moment to enjoy and give God the glory for these wonderful horses in our lives.BECAUSE: LIFE is What Happens While Making Other Plans


        • #5
          Well you can't say you weren't warned either by public posts or from PM's. Sad that you had to experience this method but at least now you can make up your own mind about her.... having seen it first hand.


          • Original Poster

            Well, none of the public posts actually said anything bad, and I didn't get any PMs.
            I wasn't just going to watch her sessions, there's plenty of other stuff to see and do at the HHF, and I also like to see things for myself before I decide.

            Snoopy, was your experience similar? With the getting the head down stuff?


            • #7
              Well, lets just say that neither me nor the horse I was riding was very impressed with her particular training methods. Infact, I excused myself from the clinic as I felt it "counter productive". As I was the first rider that morning, I was not able to audit first....
              I rode in this clinic MANY years ago and I think she was taken back somewhat that a teenager would make the decision to leave the clinic...but I knew fairly early into it that she and I were not going to be compatable so I stopped, put up my hand, and politely said "thank you for your time" and left the arena.


              • Original Poster

                Snoopy, if it was going the way this one went, I would have done the very same thing in quite short order.
                I have since learned that I will always have to audit someone before I ride with them no matter what the opinions are, even by those I consider reputable.


                • #9
                  I too, have adopted this stance and it has stood me in good steed since, so in that regard, I did get my money's worth. There are many roads to Rome and it was a road that I did not want to travel. Now before anyone gets their knickers in a twist, I am not bad mouthing her but merely voicing my own experience.


                  • #10
                    i have known kay for 20 years and have never once seen her teach anyone in that manner.


                    • Original Poster

                      Well, I was really hoping my ears and eyes were playing tricks on me.
                      I know when I read accounts of clinics on here, I have to take them with a grain of salt if they are overly negative or positive.

                      It could be that if she had riders who already had their horses heads down consistently (ick), or hopefully working somewhat forward and engaged, that her teaching wouldn't be sooo bad, though I doubt I would see it as advancing to 'good'. But that's a pretty sorry excuse, if you don't have the basics down to teach beginner horses and riders and your only comfortable with those who seem to "have the head down" or seem to be "on the bit" then you're not going to be much help there either, IMO.
                      Last edited by A Horse of Course; Apr. 2, 2007, 01:07 AM.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by slc2 View Post
                        i have known kay for 20 years and have never once seen her teach anyone in that manner.

                        Me neither.....I've seen her be a bit harsh and definitely demanding, but this is very unusual. I hate ya'll had a negative experience.

                        I totally applaud Snoopy for excusing herself. That takes courage and confidence in one's own training to realize the methods being taught are counter-productive for their horse. Good for you!
                        Last edited by eggbutt; Apr. 2, 2007, 09:37 AM.


                        • #13
                          I had hoped to see her, but with an advanced rider. From my experience, the HHF is not set up well for clinics, better for demos. I can't imagine trying to give a clinic in that environment.


                          • #14
                            I show in both dressage and hunt seat so I went to watch both Linda Allen and Kay Meredith. It was like night and day. I was quickly offended by Kay's tone and attitude towards the rider's. The dark horse had issue's in the Linda Allen clinic she rode in earlier that morning but Linda found something small to work on and then built on that a little so she at least had a successful session and ended on a good note. While that horse probably should not have been in either clinic because it didn't have the basic training needed it shows the difference between someone acting professionally and working with the situation and someone who didn't.


                            • #15
                              I think it important to remember that we have the choice to either continue with something that you know isn't going to work or to simply and POLITELY excuse yourself. We musn't lose sight of the fact that we are at a clinic to LEARN. If what is.... or how it is being presented.... is not working for you then you have every right to stop the situation before you and or your horse becomes upset. This is not to say that you may not come accross some challenging moments that you should try and work through, but if it goes against your principles then you should not be there. I prefer to voice my opinion of the instructor by politely excusing myself. They get the message and so does everyone else for that matter. If the organizer and or instructor comes to ask why you made this decision then tell them your reasons. If the instructor says something to you on the way out, say that you would happily discuss it in private. That way nobody is offended or insulted. Even though you have paid to be there you are still a paying guest and should act accordingly. Training really boils down to finding someone who shares "your brand of peanut butter".
                              In the end I always ask myself if my horse is worth more than the clinic fee...and I always come to the same answer!!!


                              • #16
                                I was there with one of my students who rode in the Linda Allen clinic, and watched bits and pieces of the Kay Meredith sessions. The venue is certainly different from most "normal" clinics, with lots of noisy distraction immediately outside the arena, especially from the "Kids Corral", complete with mooing psuedo-cows, giant rocking horses, pony rides and roping practice from an oversize horse model. The PA system also made things challenging for riders - it worked well for auditors, but was not directed into the arena so riders had a hard time hearing directions if the outside noise was up (most of the middle of the day).

                                I have mixed feelings about what I saw/heard. The riders I watched ranged from a knowledgeable pro to a not-so-knowledgeable pro to amateurs with fairly good basics to amateurs/kids with a serious lack of good basics (and I'm talking basic equitation, not to mention dressage).

                                I was dismayed to hear KM focusing on getting the "head down" (since, with the exception of the knowledgeable pro, all the riders I saw were already much too busy doing that very thing at the exclusion of all else). But I also watched her give a very good private lesson to the knowledgeable pro before the clinic started Sunday morning. I'd have to see her again in a "normal" setting before I'd feel comfortable putting her teaching in the thumbs up or thumbs down column.
                                What we hope ever to do with ease, we must learn first to do with diligence.
                                - Samuel Jackson


                                • #17
                                  I rode in the clinic with Kay this past weekend and although yes, she was very demanding of riders, I didn't think she said anything or did anything that didn't need to be said. To be perfectly honest, I thought it was a fabulous clinic and I would ride with her again in a heartbeat. To an outside observer, I'm sure it looked harsh. Kay does not coddle riders, but she was fair to both horse AND rider. She has an unbelievable ability to watch a horse and rider for a few moments and pick apart the problems and then tell the rider exactly what needs to be done to FIX THE PROBLEM. Whether or not the rider does what she says is the issue.

                                  Kay's 3 main things were that the horse had to have 1) regular rhythm & tempo, 2) energy and 3) roundness. She was not going to let riders go around with their horse's heads way up in the air. And frankly, I'm inclined to agree with her. You can't make progress if your horse is inverted. And to some extent, you have to stop giving the horse the reins every time they put up a fuss. A horse must learn to carry itself. The truly unfortunate part was that many of the riders obviously didn't know how to get the horse's heads down without see-sawing. And see-sawing is one thing that Kay simply would not tolerate.

                                  And HOW does one proceed to get the head down? She said and kept repeating, to keep the hands very low (so low that their arms were almost completely straight) and then hold your hand down and braced as hard as you can. No, sorry, I am not exagerating.
                                  And what did the horses do? Uh they braced back, and fought back constantly jerking their heads. And what did Meredith say to do, "Don't let him do that hold your hands down harder!"
                                  Actually no, the point was to have the elbows down at the sides and the hands just above the withers to create a straight line from bit to elbow. At no point did she tell riders to put their arms straight down. Again...some riders INTERPRETED it that way, but they were corrected. Unfortunately, many of the riders didn't have the ability to move their hands and legs independently of one another and THIS is where the problems were created. In short, riders who got the most demanding feedback from Kay were those that were not able to do as she said when she said to do it.

                                  The whole lesson was on getting the heads down in this way, with NO progress. The rider, above whose horse starting backing up and pawing, was excused after about 20min or so of trying to get this horse's head down at the walk with no progress.
                                  What you failed to mention is that this rider has only owned this horse for about 1 month (if I'm thinking of the same person). Furthermore, the horse was so terribly stiff and upside down from their previous owner that there was very little that Kay could have done to improve the situation. Frankly, the horse/rider combo really should have used the clinic money to find themselves a good trainer. They really weren't in a situation to benefit from a clinic like this. No clinician is a miracle worker.

                                  Did you (to the OP) or the above mentioned rider attend any of the lectures? I was there for all three and was dissapointed at the LACK of rider attendance. I was the only rider that was there for all 3 lectures and I must say, what we discussed in lecture had a significant impact on my success when riding in the clinics.

                                  I will admit that I was nervous going into the ring, but Kay quickly put me at ease. Although she was demanding, she was very fair and rewarding as well always saying "SUPER" or EXCELLENT when the horse was moving correctly. She confirmed to me (and my trainer, who audited) that we were on the right track and had a solid foundation. I would travel a great distance to ride with her again.


                                  • #18
                                    Was she maybe trying to get the horses head down so that he wasn't paying attention to all the distracting stuff and instead started to listen to his rider? The only possible explanation I can think of, although even that wouldn't justify some of the stuff you described...


                                    • #19
                                      What horsepix said makes more sense, although they are obviously two very different interpretations of what was going on and the rest of us weren't there. Although I would expect a clinician to make some kind of progress with any horse/rider, even if it is very small.


                                      • #20
                                        I agree....Horsepix has described the Kay Meredith I've known and watched on many occasions. Thanks for posting your experience.