Chuck Grant 1914-1990 Trainer of seventeen competitive Grand Prix horses, instructor and noted author, he introduced Dressage to the Midwest and inspired students for generations. He was inducted into The Roemer Foundation/USDF Hall of Fame in 1997.
Growing up on a farm in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, E.G. Charles “Chuck” Grant spent many hours riding the farm horses bareback. After high school, at the age of nineteen, he signed up to pursue a college degree in maritime engineering.
That summer, in 1934, Grant discovered the 122nd Field Artillery and soon changed his course to join the National Guard unit, where he could ride horses every day. A fellow serviceman gave him James Fillis’s nineteenth-century training classic, Breaking and Riding, and Grant became interested in training horses, reading every book on the subject he could find.
U.S. Army Colonels Isaac Leonard Kitts and Hiram Tuttle were two of Grant’s equestrian role models. He would watch closely all that they did and duplicate it as best he could, as he wasn’t allowed to approach senior officers to ask them questions.
After World War II , Grant went to work for a riding academy in Chicago, eventually purchasing his own equestrian training facility, Plush Horse Stables, also in Chicago, IL . He befriended two of his boarders: Paul Stjernholm, a Dane who’d been a Major in the U.S. Cavalry; and Arthur Konyot, head of the famed European circus family. Both men helped further Grant’s equestrian education.
Grant’s first wife, Emmy Temple, a rider from Ohio, soon joined the three men in their discussions forming an informal dressage group. In 1947, Emmy taught the first civilian dressage lessons in the Midwest at Plush Stables. Later that same year, Grant judged the first dressage show in the Midwest, in Morton Grove, IL.
For ten years, from 1969 to 1979, Grant led an exhibition troupe, the Horse Capades, which included some of his advanced students. Performing classical and high-school dressage, the Horse Capades also included a comedy routine or two. Due to time and money constraints, the group gave its final performance in 1979.
In 1978, with second wife Carole Grant Olford, Grant established Shine a Bit Farm in Brighton, MI. He insisted that dressage was for every horse, bringing seventeen horses to Grand Prix, including Shining Gold, Bit o Shine, Shine a Bit, Miss Prince, Prussian Dudley, and Tarnished Gold. Grant trained Appaloosas, Arabians, Saddlebreds, and Thoroughbreds and taught hundreds of students, including such well-known dressage riders as Dominique Barbier, Violet Hopkins, Mary Anne McPhail, and Nancy Polozker.
Grant is the author of the books American Dressage, American Dressage II, and Haute Ecole and also penned numerous magazine articles. Being largely self-taught, he developed his philosophy of training based on his observations, his common sense, and his reading. He believed that one cannot teach a horse something he does not already know; instead, the key is to learn how to communicate and to ask correctly. Many who have read Grant’s books or who were fortunate enough to have studied or conversed with this modern-day master recall the key point of his teachings: “Ask frequently; expect little or nothing; reward generously.”