Exclusive: A Visit with Louis Meryman

Editor’s note:Louise has been competed at eventing’s highest levels since the early 1980’s. She has galloped around some of the world’s most famous courses, including Burghley in England, Luhmulen in Germany, Boekelo in Holland and Rolex in Kentucky. In 1996, Louise and Mashantum were shorted listed for the Olympic Games. The members of Louise’s family are also comfortable in the saddle. Her husband Dean Nicyper competes occasionally and their daughters Hope, 7, and Ky, 5, are learning the ropes.

When did your partnership with Amazon begin?

I have had “Squeak” for about 2 years. I got her from Phillip Dutton and Nina Gardner. Nina bred her. I got her in late November/early December of 1999 as a 4-year-old and we took her to Florida in January.

She was a late foal, and she only turned 6 a couple of months ago, she could be the youngest horse here.

Did you start her yourself?

No, actually a girl who is Phillip’s barn manager, Colby, had started her. She had done novice and a couple training levels, so I continued at training level with her.

Was she a sale project at Phillip’s?

Well, they have a lot of young horses they breed and bring along, but she was a little bit of a problem because she is such a bucker. Phillip thought maybe she was a little small (15.3 hands) for him, plus the fact that she was difficult because she was a bucker.

Did you buy her with the thought that she would turn into something for you to compete or as a resale prospect?

I bought her to ride myself. She is not easy, I knew she wasn’t a resale horse.

What did you like about her?

That she bucked! No, not really. She is a really good jumper and she has a cocky personality which I like. She has a good hind end.

What are Amazon’s strongest points?

She has become very brave. She was very spooky and looky when I first got her, but she has out grown that and she has gotten very brave. She is quick in her brain and with her body and she has a very good big gallop. She is cocky-that’s what makes her hard in the dressage, but it’s not a tenseness, she is just opinionated.so we are a good match! (laugh laugh).

What she is like in competition?

On cross country, she gets low in her gallop-that’s the problem. The issue has been trying to compromise between letting her gallop where she is comfortable and finding a balance she can jump out of. I think it will get better with more mileage, its already better. She is a good show jumper. Right now she sometimes gets a wild and its not so good, but by nature she wants to be very careful.

What stumbling blocks have you encountered with her?

The flat work is going to be a slow road, but she is a wonderful jumper. Her firecracker personality makes the flat work difficult, and she is low in her shoulders which is odd because when she jumps, she is not.

She has a similar build to your 1996 Olympic Short list partner Mashantum; are there other similarities?

There are some, but not a whole lot, oddly enough. They are both little, they both have a big step, but this is a whole different type of horse.

What do you see for your partnership in the future?

She is the first horse I have had since Mashantum that I feel could do the big time. I will move her up to advanced in Florida this winter, but I would wait until the Fall to do a CCI*** at Fair Hill.

Rachel Hansen is an editorial assistant at Practical Horseman magazine.

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