Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Maria Eilberg (GBR) Qualifies for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

CHIO Aachen was great show with all the different disciplines taking place at the same time—Dressage, Show Jumping, Eventing, Driving, Reining and Vaulting—there was no time to get bored! Unfortunately Two Sox got frightened as I entered down the centre line for the Grand Prix; it was very difficult to stop him at X! Not the best way to start the test and it did cross my mind that perhaps we should have been doing the reining competition!

Mike, my brother, did really well at Hartpury. The amount of packing and preparation I had to do before leaving for Aachen was immense; he was taking 6 horses so I had to make sure that everything was organised before I left! It was worth it though, as he came back with several wins and top placings on each of the horses including the National Shearwater and International Small Tour Championship! We had 1 week to get things organised for Hickstead. Hickstead was the final selection for WEG and the team was announced shortly afterwards!

All the hard work has paid off; I have been selected for WEG with Two Sox! He was excellent at Hickstead and pulled out all the stops. There was a bit of pressure as Aachen hadn't gone quite to plan but I knew he was up to doing it! My brother Mike also had a great show with good placings in the small tour and big tour. It was lovely to go together as a family; we had our new lorry which was lovely and spacious for us all to live in.

After having arrived home late from Hickstead, we went off to the Somerford Regionals the next morning. We took two horses and they both qualified for our National Championships which was great and well worth the effort. We were beginning to feel somewhat jaded! Next stop is the Addington Regionals where we will compete on four horses and then not long after that our National Championships, where we hope to qualify 10 horses! The National Champs will also be ideal preparation for Two Sox before Kentucky!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Endurance Rider Kathy Brunjes (USA) Follows the U.S. Endurance Selection Trials for the 2010 Games

Endurance riders vying for a spot to represent the U.S. endurance community at the 2010 WEG participated in three separate selection trials during the 10-day period of June 18-27th.

Central started the process off with 14 nominated riders and 17 horses gathering in Danville, IL for an 80-mile trial that would demonstrate speed and stamina. Unfortunately weather conditions cut the trial short (to 54 miles) and speed could not be demonstrated due to footing on the course – rain and wind caused mud, wet fields and slippery grass, swollen creeks and trees crashing down across trails. Heat and humidity tested the horses and riders for the 54 miles. Veteran international endurance riders Valerie Kanavy, Margaret Sleeper, DVM, Michele Roush, DVM, Jan Worthington and Ellyn Rapp, along with some newer candidates (Kim Orr, Deborah Reich) successfully completed their shortened trial.

East sponsored the next trial at the Fair Hills location (Elkton, MD) with nine horse/rider combinations presenting. The course was 80 miles, and weather cooperated this time around for riders. Heat and humidity was again a factor, and tested both horses and riders. Four riders completed the course successfully (Nicki Meuten, DVM, Lisa Green, Deborah Reich and Meg Sleeper, DVM).

The final trial was held in Prineville, OR with lower humidity factoring into the demonstration for horse/rider combinations. Five selectors, Chef d’Equippe Becky Hart, and three veterinarians traveled across the country to put the West coast nominees through the same requirements asked of the East and Central riders/horses. Jeremy and Heather Reynolds, Lindsay Graham, Ceci Stasiuk, Christoph Schork, Charisse Glen, Carol Giles and Dennis and Sue Summers were among the 18 starting the 80 mile trial, which completed nine of those starting.

The final trial (the “Observation Trial”) was held back at the Danville, IL site (during the week of August 8-12) with all those nominated riders and horses who participated in one of the earlier selection trials invited to attend. From this final trial, a short list of 10 rider/horse combinations will be invited to attend further training prior to the WEG. The short list will move into the Shaker Village complex (Harrodsburg, KY – just a short distance from the Kentucky Horse Park) and await final selection to the Endurance WEG squad. The endurance squad will be named just prior to moving into the WEG venue (week of September 20).

More to come …..!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Four-Time World Champion Four-in-Hand Driver, IJsbrand Chardon (NED)

Well on my way to Kentucky

After the Dutch Championships I successfully competed at Saumur, France. I won the dressage, I drove a very strong marathon in which I came second and I won the combined competition. I went to Saumur to try two other horses in the marathon and it went very well. With Victory and Whooper in the wheel and Zidane and Isovlas Paganini in the lead I could take any turn. I just had a small incident in one of the obstacles when one of my wheeler horses fell down. Luckily it was solved quickly and the horse did not get injured. (IJsbrand Chardon won the marathon in Aachen 2010. Photo Credit: Rinaldo de Craen)

After Saumur I started to prepare my team for Aachen. I took my best team with the same horses I used at the 2008 World Championships in Beesd. Unfortunately, my all-round horse Argus injured his leg just before the horse inspection in Aachen. He was really lame and was taken out for the competition. Luckily he is getting better now and I will be able to use him again this season. He probably twisted his leg. It was extra sad because I had considered bringing another horse to Aachen instead, but I decided not to do it. If I had done this, it would have all been different, but that is the sport! Now I had to use my marathon horse Tomasson in the dressage. I had several small mistakes, which resulted in the 6th place in this phase. For the first time, we had to drive the cones before the marathon and I was very happy with my double clear round. I came back very strong in the marathon where I was assisted by my wife Paulien and my son Bram, who celebrated his 17th birthday a few days before. We won the marathon by a fraction of a second ahead of Boyd Exell from Australia, who keeps performing very strong. We came second in the combined competition behind Exell. Despite the bad luck with Argus I am happy with my results and I believe we are on the right way to Kentucky. It was good to compete in Aachen against Boyd Exell, I now know where I stand. I have a good feeling about my horses, they are in good form. Chester Weber was in Aachen as a spectator and I consider him and Boyd as top favourites for the medals. It was a shame that Chester was not competing in Aachen!

To drive the marathon as last phase of the combined competition was all right. We started in reverse order of the standings after dressage and cones, so I was one of the last to go. The marathon was broadcasted live on television and the TV people had insisted on this experiment to be able to produce a winner of the combined competition at the end of the marathon. To me, I prefer to have the cones as last competition. Now, we did not have as much tension as we used to have in the cones. The obstacle driving competition can be nerve wrecking and is always very exciting, anything can still happen, for both the individual and the team standings!

My next show will be in Lähden, Germany, at the home of my fellow competitor Christoph Sandmann. I need to drive a good dressage again to make up for Aachen and I look forward to battle against the top drivers again!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

2006 WEG Vaulting Silver Medalist Rosalind (Rosey) Ross (USA)

Rosalind Ross has been traveling to Europe as a team vaulter since she was 9 years old, though she started vaulting at a much younger age. Rosalind, "Rosey," is a very expressive vaulter and puts her great choreography, skill, grace, and elegance into an emotional performance. Rosey is a gold vaulter (the highest vaulting category). She has been on many teams throughout the years, and has been on many vaulting clubs, starting at Coastline and Mt. Eden Vaulting Clubs.

Rosey is currently in college at Emerson, Boston. She is majoring in literature, writing, and publishing.

When riding the high of two consecutive Selection Trial wins, there is a danger of becoming complacent about training. Thankfully, my team is of completely the opposite mentality. Having experienced success early in the season, we are now training harder than ever to achieve a standard of excellence that even we have not yet defined. Vaulting is a sport in which it is crucial to continually progress and evolve, even throughout the peak competition season. Often times, the routine one performs in the first competition of the season is far different from the routine that vaulter ends up performing at the World Championships. As the routine becomes more secure, the vaulter may choose to raise the level of difficulty or heighten their expressiveness through choreographic changes.

The first of three U.S. Selection Trials was held at Garrod Farms in Saratoga, California, May 15 and 16. I was very impressed with the high level of competition and unusually high turnout of competitors. Clearly, having the World Equestrian Games on our home turf this year is a major incentive for U.S. vaulters to step it up. It has been years since there were as many as five A-teams vying for the spot of National Team in our country. Each and every team put on a respectable performance. My team, F.A.C.E., aboard the horse Palatine lunged by Carolyn Bland, ended up winning the competition. Our freestyle routine was far from perfect, but evoked enough compliments from the audience to leave us feeling relieved that we had created something our country would be proud to stand behind, should we be selected as the team to compete in Kentucky.
I believe I speak for my entire team when I say that we are more proud of Palatine than anything. The Garrod Farms competition was his debut as a true “team horse,” in which he certainly proved himself. To go from never having carried more than one person on his back, to nearly effortlessly carrying three people for the duration of a four minute routine, is an amazing feat for a horse to accomplish in less than a year’s time. Though I have vaulted on many fantastic horses over my sixteen years in this sport, I can honestly say that performing on Palatine is one of the most relaxing and liberating experiences I have had. For me, the most enjoyable vaulting happens when the horse’s movement is in such a soft, even, cadence that it becomes possible to forget that your stage is moving. Though of course not every second of the performance is so effortless, the majority of our routine now feels that way.

The second U.S. Selection Trial was held at the Portola Valley Training Center in Portola Valley, California. We had another clean competition, securing our second win. We also guaranteed ourselves an invitation (along with the second place team, Woodside Vaulters) to the CHIO in Aachen, Germany in July. Due to financial reasons, we initially thought we would have to decline the invitation. Fortunately, with some aid from the U.S.E.F., the trip became possible. We will traveled to Germany in the end of June to begin training on a borrowed horse, and then competed in Aachen July 9-11. Immediately after returning home on July 12, we traveld to southern California for the third Selection Trial (July 17 and 18).

Since the last competition, we have wasted no time in taking our training to the next level in order to prepare for international competition. Though a couple of our team members live on the east coast, our coach/team manager in San Diego, and our horse trainer in Tennessee, we have all managed to congregate in the Bay Area for the past few weeks for some focused training time together. We spend nearly every waking moment together, living and breathing our passion for the art we create, and hoping that our efforts will carry us to the top of the podium in Kentucky!

Monday, August 2, 2010

2010 German Para Dressage Champion, Angelika Trabert Qualifies for the 2010 Games

ARIVA-AVANTI went with me to the first competition, got a little bit distracted by sun light that was falling through wooden bars, but she behaved well. So the next day we were on the road again to our first international competition in Mannheim. What can I say: I am a very lucky person and I have the honor to ride Ariva-Avanti! She was just awesome. Two starts and both times we came first. It was as if she had done that a million times before. I must admit that we had thought things over very carefully so as to not stress her too much. Michaela (Heinrich’s wife with whom I stable my horses) groomed for me. Heinrich coached me and Uta (our regional trainer) trained Ariva for the 20 min permitted per day. Those days Heinrich called Ariva’s breeder. He was so excited that he almost wanted to book flights to Kentucky right away. Since Ariva-Avanti is totally new "In the scene" I was asked by our trainer to show her once more internationally. Mulhouse/ France was the closest event and so we travelled South on the 16th of June. The competition was rainy and cold, but it was worth it!
The French did their very best to hold a competition in a friendly and warn atmosphere. Ariva herself was excited but showed again her qualities and her potential. We still have to grow together, BUT also this time, out of 3 starts we won three times. For the first time the Germans won the Nations Cup by 0.6% ahead of the Belgium team. The trophy was presented by Mrs. Jonquil Solt, former chairman of IPEC (International Paralympic Equestrian Committee). We were very proud. Ariva has to be trained carefully, she needs time to understand what I ask of her. But I am sure it is only advanced horses (like Ariva) which understand the different aids for turn on the haunches, halt or rein back, all without legs!

Yesterday was “day X”. The German Championships were over and the nomination of the German Para-Equestrian Team for the WEG took place.… and YES YES YES, we made it!!! Ariva-Avanti scored 70,476% in the team test, 71,21% in the Championship test and 73,25% in the Freestyle wish meant two first places and in the freestyle, second with 0,15% points behind Petra van de Sande (Netherlands), who was the winner at the Europeans in Norway 2009 in the Championship test! I was more than satisfied with those results. Ariva is for me already an outstanding horse, with a great character, esprit in the test and intelligence to understand my light aids.

Now we have to work on details and the freestyle performance, but Kentucky watch out, here we come!

An update on LONDRIA, … the positive is, that the vet gave us the OK to start training her again! The negative … she won´t be fit for the German Championships. This is sad on one hand, but the horse comes first, so the most important thing is to have the horse fully recover! We know what potential she has (winning gold and silver with me last year at the Europeans)!