Melissa Allen The Carolinas Equestrian 01 Melissa Allen is no stranger to starting new things ... she’s been starting young horses since her riding career began and she continues to try new things with her move from Kansas City, KS, to Waxhaw, NC.  Gone are the chilly rides bundling up in layers of warm clothing.  Now, Melissa’s winters will be spent at Robindale Farm, a premier facility boasting a covered arena with mirrors and GGT footing as well as 12x12 matted stalls, grass turn out, and a farmhouse style tack room.  Melissa hopes to turn Robindale Farm into a top-notch dressage barn, offering lessons, clinics and sale horses.  “I have a lot of goals that I want to achieve with this move.  I want to compete in the “big” ring at Tryon International Equestrian Center, while having a great group of sale horses ready.  I want Robindale and Melissa Allen Dressage to be a well-known program throughout our region and beyond,” states Melissa.

Allen’s passion for riding began when her Aunt Carol gifted her 4 Arabians.  Soon, Melissa joined the Cornhusker Pony Club in her hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska.  After several years of riding, Melissa began to focus on dressage and soon purchased a Hanoverian gelding, ‘Walazon’.  The move to dressage would take her to the 1997 NAYRC at Temple Farm in Chicago, where her Region 4 team finished with the Bronze Medal.  The NAYRC team worked with Conrad Schumacher, a top YR clinician, throughout the year.  “It was an amazing experience and I met a lot of riders that I am still friends and colleagues with today.  It was a great experience for a 17-year-old,” smiles Melissa.  During her NAYRC appearance, Melissa was able to attain scores that helped earn her USDF Silver Medal.  After Young Riders, Schumacher assisted Melissa in securing a working student position in California.  So, she headed west to work with David Wilson for almost 3 years starting young horses and competing at the PSG level and with Young Riders.  As she explains, “It really taught me how to read the particular horse I was working with, not every horse fits into a certain ‘program’.  You need to know when to push, when to wait.  I definitely rely on my ‘gut instinct’ with the horses I start.” 

When her time with Wilson ended in 2000, Melissa made the move to Kansas City, planning to attend massage school and not be a professional equestrian.  “I enjoyed the process of starting young horses but then they would sell, and I wouldn’t have a part of their continued training.  I didn’t want to be a trainer at that point, so I was trying a different path.”  Soon though, a client, and future friend, Amy Stuhr, came into Melissa’s life.  Stuhr had a few horses she needed started and turned to Melissa to help.  She worked with the young horses and was able to continue their training as they were purchased by local equestrians.  “It was great, I got to start talented horses and then have them continue their education with me.”  Melissa and Amy continued to develope a great working friendship and Melissa was even maid of honor at Stuhrs’ wedding!  During this time, Melissa was also able to earn her Bronze Medal while training her young mounts.  She soon went on to earn her USDF Gold Medal at the age of 22.  Melissa’s coaching style translates well into all riding disciplines as current student, Caroline Reichelt, explains “As a jumper, the opportunity to train with Melissa has been a game changer for me and my horse.  My mare is happier in her job and much less body sore now that she is using her body correctly.  With riders, Melissa communicates new concepts in a clear way, customizing the message to each rider in a way that makes sense to them and works for their discipline.  The progress we’ve made in our flatwork with Melissa is translating into vastly improved performances over fences.”

Melissa Allen The Carolinas Equestrian 02 After earning her Gold Medal, Melissa went through the USDF Certified Instructor Program and was certified through the 4th level, which was the highest level offered at the time.  Prior to getting certified, applicants must participate in a 2-day workshop and are then invited to attend the testing.  The certification process is rigorous and includes a variety of requirements, such as riding two unfamiliar horses and one familiar horse, giving 2 lessons followed by a 2-day test.  “It was a nerve-racking process, but I am proud to have gone through it.  I work hard, and I want people to know I am credentialed and that I am prepared to take them to the top levels of the sport,” explains Melissa.  In 2015, Melissa also earned her FEI Certification, which at the time, made her 1 of only 4 other FEI Certified instructors in the country.

While getting her USDF 4th Level certification, Melissa met, and began riding with, Lilo Fore, a former Olympic dressage judge.  Other top dressage coaches that Melissa has trained with include Christine Traurig, Debbie McDonald and regional FEI Trainer, Christopher Hickey.  Melissa has ridden many horses to regional and national awards as well as horse of the year awards and continues to develop horses from starting under saddle through the FEI level.  In 2017, she had the ride on ‘Roodeport II,’ and won 3rd place I1 and were Champions in the I1 Freestyle.  Prior to ‘Roode’ was ‘Daina,’ whom Melissa imported at 4 years old and developed to the Grand Prix level.  ‘Daina’ and Melissa are still together and the mare, at 20 years old, made the move to Waxhaw with the Allens, along with her daughter, 5-year-old ‘Raina’!  Melissa and ‘Daina’ have ridden in many symposiums, USDF trainers’ conferences, and has been demo rider at multiple functions around the country.  She also won the open I2 Regional Championship and was Reserve Open GP Champion in Region 4 in Kansas City.  While continuing her own education and goals, Allen has coached more than 11 students to their own medals, as well as assisted several in reaching other goals, including Amy Stuhr Paterson who has 11 Regional Championship wins and Alexis Losey who was Horse of the Year in third level freestyle with a 77.1%.  Melissa Allen Dressage is sponsored by Hulsebos Saddles from Holland and Samshield.  To learn more about Melissa Allen Dressage, check out www.madressagellc.com.

Photos Courtesy of Melissa Allen Dressage