Canaan Ranch, Fulshear, Texas
Dedicated to Producing Quality Performance Horses
Despite the advantage of growing up riding horses, Melanie Pai has had to overcome much to make Canaan Ranch the successful business it is today. Her first son was born with severe allergies to horses and her second son was diagnosed with Leukemia at age six. Now both doing well and in college, Melanie shares her passion for horses with her young daughter.
Today, she and her staff are proud to offer dressage horses with the temperament, conformation and athletic potential to be top competitors in the show ring for amateur and professional riders.
Dedicated to Producing Quality Performance Horses
by Jeannie Blancq-Putney for HorsesDaily
Who Is Canaan Ranch
In 1999 Melanie Pai established Canaan Ranch, which is located in Fulshear, TX, just west of Houston, TX, Starting with five dressage horses, only two of which were Warmbloods, Canaan Ranch is now home to nearly 60 Warmblood Dressage horses. Owner Melanie Pai has an excellent eye for spotting dressage talent in young horses and is currently reaping the fruits of a carefully planned breeding program. She makes a point of starting horses correctly so that they will be a pleasure for their new owners. Her youngsters are winners at breed shows across the nation. Canaan Ranch is a fully staffed facility that offers training, sales, boarding and showing as well as breeding and mare care.
“I love boarding at Canaan Ranch”, says boarder Jennifer Lucitti. “The facilities are excellent, the care is superlative, the atmosphere is friendly, and the instruction and training are correct and professional. As an adult amateur rider, I feel both inspired and educated every time I drive through the gate. Of course, the beautiful landscape and the fields of gorgeous horses facilitate these feelings. My horse has progressed tremendously since arriving and she has never looked better. Further, my interactions with Melanie, Elizabeth (Poulin) and the other clients have been nothing but positive. I honestly can't say enough good things about the ranch.”
Facilities include two dressage arenas (one covered and one outdoor), two four-bedroom homes and pool, an eight-stall stallion barn, a 13-stall barn, a hot-walker, round pen and a jumping arena. Of course, some may wonder what place a jump arena has on a dressage farm. “We jump our horses to keep their minds fresh and let them have some fun,” says Pai. “We like to give them a break from ring work with trail rides and jumping once or twice a week, especially the stallions.” That also allows us the opportunity to pinpoint the equestrian discipline that each horse is best suited for and enjoys the most.
A Top Notch Staff
Melanie Pai and Elizabeth PoulinIn 2006, Elizabeth Poulin joined Canaan Ranch as head trainer. Elizabeth is a member of the well-known Poulin family, originally from Maine. She began riding at the age of three and competing at the age of four. “Growing up with so many judges, riders, clinicians in the family I was fortunate enough to always have plenty of horses to ride and learn on,” says Poulin. “My father, licensed ‘S’ judge Tom Poulin, has been my trainer all of my life. Throughout my childhood he put me on his grand prix horses to teach me how to ride at that level. I was able to compete at all levels on many different breeds/ages/levels of talent which I believe taught me ‘feel’. I was taught with a serious focus on the basics of training and of the training scale.”
Boarder, Leslie Fan says, “I happily drive 75 miles (one way) to have my horse at Canaan Ranch.” “I do this for two reasons: 1) the quality of training and instruction from Elizabeth Poulin, and 2) the quality of care provided by Canaan Ranch and after just a few lessons with Elizabeth I soon realized how much she could teach me about achieving true collection, self carriage and expression. I decided to move my horse to take full advantage of having my horse in partial training while still taking lessons to further my education. Yes, people think I am crazy to drive an hour and a half just to ride my horse.
Melanie Pai and Donates at the 2006 Markel /USEF Young Horse ChampionshipsIt is worth it to me to have the peace of mind knowing my horse is well taken care of and progressing in his training to bring out the best potential in both of us!”
“Elizabeth Poulin has an intuitive understanding of how to challenge both horse and rider without over facing either,” says Lucitti. “As a result, her horses and clients progress in a correct and confident manner, and on a time scale that is tailored to the individual.
The show record of Elizabeth's clients is testimony to the quality of her training system. Elizabeth's own show record is demonstration not only of her skill as a rider and trainer, but also of the quality of the Canaan Ranch horses.”
Melanie’s Passion Ignites
Melanie PaiMelanie was born with a love of horses. She started riding at the age of four at her aunt’s hunt and jump ranch in Alabama. It wasn’t long before her aunt advised that Melanie’s parents needed to get her horses of her own. “My dad was a doctor, and ranches are a good tax break so one thing led to another.”
Melanie grew up in St. Louis, MO were she rode cutting horses and ran barrels, flags, poles and rode during the summer's at her aunt's hunt and jump ranch. However, something was always missing. “I knew there was something else out there in the horse world that would make me even happier. I had seen Arabians and Thoroughbreds and Appaloosas but none of them were quite right for me.”
In 1986 shortly after moving to Texas, Melanie visited a local arena where she saw a horse doing an extended trot across the arena. She thought, ‘What was that?’ “I knew had never seen anything so beautiful in my life and that was my introduction to Dressage. I have been hooked from that moment. I love the discipline and art of Dressage. It is like ballet on a beautiful horse.”
The Dream Becomes a Reality
Melanie had always wanted her own ranch, and she knew early on that horses were always going to be a part of her life. “Horses are God’s perfect animal. They are like angels on earth. They are magnificent to watch in the pasture running and playing. I love cats and dogs too, but you can’t ride them. Watching foals being born and struggle to their feet is just magnificent.”
Along the way, Melanie’s father was a huge supporter of her passion. “My dad is so proud of me now—to the point that he gets tears in his eyes. He has a lot of respect for me and is my biggest fan. He likes to give me a hard time about the kind of horses I have. It is this little game we play. He always says ‘you know you can’t cut cows with those things’.”
The interest in horses does not extend to everyone in Melanie’s family. Ironically, her oldest son is deathly allergic to horses. “His lungs collapsed when he was two years old at my father's ranch and we couldn’t figure out why it happened. There had to be a protocol for when I came home from the barn. I had to take off my clothes and wash them right away and get right into the shower. That is one of the reasons we don’t live on the property now.” Her son is now away at college, so it isn’t as much of a problem day-to-day. Melanie’s other son, who is also in college now, developed leukemia at age six and that took her away from the horses for some time. “We went through a lot to get to where we are today. Luckily, in my daughter I got the horse person who I could bring out to the ranch. She has two ponies at the ranch that she does everything on, from barrels to spins to jumping, dressage and even carriage driving.”
Melanie Pai Brings The Impressive Floriano to America
One of Melanie's dreams has always been to own horse which would go to the Olympic Games. Her dream came close with Floriano.
In 2002, while shopping for horses in Germany, Carla Symader and Ralf Isselhorst showed Melanie, the now famous Floriano. “Even though he never really competed, I knew the moment I saw Floriano finish his demo ride that he had Olympic potential. In the cross ties, I fell in love with him, and I purchased him on the spot.
Floriano made the 2004 Olympic team as first alternate and competed at the World Cup in 2005, where he won the Invitational Championship. After the World Cup, Melanie sold Floriano to concentrate on breeding and developing her young horse program.
The Canaan Ranch Breeding Program
Canaan Ranch specializes in producing top dressage horses. The ranch has 14 broodmares including Lorelie, the winner of two Horse of The Year Awards - one in 2005 and one in 2006. These mares carry many of the top Dressage bloodlines.
DonatesCanaan Ranch also stands stallions on the property. Donates is a Diamond Hit son out of a Rubinstein/Grannus mare. He is a 16.3-hand, chocolate black Oldenberg that has been competing very successfully. He was Horse of the Year as a 3-year-old at training level. He won Oldenberg Horse of the Year at second level in 2005 and USDF Stallion Horse of the Year in 2005. His most outstanding quality is his trainability and rideability which he passes on to his offspring. In the spring of 2007 Mozart will join the ranks after he passes his 3-year-old stallion approval in Germany. Mozart is a 17-hand bay Hanoverian stallion. He is the son of Multistar (Multistar is the grandson of Matcho xx). His dame is Palisander. Mozart comes from the Anglo breeding line that produces active and supple movement.
Dressage at Devon 2006 Spells Success
Melanie's focus on her breeding and young Horse Program began to pay dividends by the Fall of 2006. At the Dressage at Devon - 2006, Canaan Ranch's young horses brought home many impressive ribbons from Devon 2006. The listing of ribbons includes:
Findamark Two-Year-Old Fillies
Dior Fillies of 2006
Lorelei Four-Year-Old and Older Yeld Mares
Lorelei IBC Westfalen
Donates Four-Year-Old and Older Stallion (also under saddle)
Findamark IBC Westfalen
Willow's Dream IBC Oldenburg
Donates EEI Five-Year-Old dressage test*
Devotion Yearling Colts and Geldings
*This performance was remarkable since this was the first time Canaan Ranch entered the Devon Competition.
Melanie Pai certainly isn't resting on any laurels. She has three immediate goals in mind. First, she wants to help grow the status of Region 9. For example, "Region 9 was the most represented region in the 2006 Markel/USEF Young Horse Championships in Lexington, Kentucky. We trained together, stabled together and cheered each other on," said Melanie. Second, she wants to become more involved in the young USDF young horse program, headed by Scott Hassler. This program is young but very vital to the ability for people to understand the correct foundation of training the Dressage horse.
Her third goal goes hand-in-hand with her second. Melanie wants to be a part of growing America's dressage breeding program. "We have a number of great stallions, but we need a lot more high quality mares to develop the ability to compete with the power house of Europe. I would love to go back to the Olympics, but with a "born in the USA" horse (preferably on with one of my own), and that will be when I would feel successful," concludes Melanie.
Canaan Ranch accomplishments and the outstanding bloodlines of all the breeding stock can be seen at the Canaan Ranch web site