Friday, May 28, 2010

2006 Vaulting World Champion, and Seven-Time German Vaulting Champion, Kai Vorberg (GER)

“So now I can start to plan precisely…”

First I want to apologize for not updating my blog in a while! But there were many things to do and to get started to have a good run into an outstanding season.

The first international competition was held in Saumur, France in April. I did not compete there because my longeur was too busy and so I travelled with my team to support them.

Two weeks later in the Netherlands, I had my first international competition with my new Freestyle concept. The CVI** was held in Ermelo, NED where they have the KNHS, the National Riding Centre of the Netherlands. It is a nice venue which gave us a good opportunity for the first start. I won and I am quite satisfied with my progress so far.

The last weekend (May 1-2) we had the first WEG qualification in Germany.
At the “Prize of the Best” in western Germany was the first possibility for everybody to show up. This was quite important for me, because I needed to see how my routine works in tough competition, and I was very satisfied with my horse“Sir Bernhard RS vd Wintermühle”! He had some brilliant moments and some with a little lack of concentration, but he definitely keeps moving forward! And that was the most important thing to see.

My new Freestyle had good reviews, so I am happy with what the people and the press think about it. Not to forget the judges! And I am looking forward to present it more people in Europe and of course especially in the US!

I was happy to win, and in second place was my teammate Gero Meyer. He is a little older than me, but actually we are both the only ones left from an older generation of vaulters.
We can still show the young guys what’s going on and we are very proud of that!
After the awards ceremony the committee gave the official confirmation
that I have permission to compete in Kentucky for the 2010 WEG! The other individuals still need to qualify, but because of my success in past years (medal in every championship since 2003), and especially because of my shape at the moment and that I have quite a few top level horses, I got selected as the first Individual for the Games for Germany! That makes me very proud and I am truly happy to have reached that first, and very important, step by now!

When I was standing with Gero in the awards ceremony we made a pact that we will show the new generation what our passion for the sport is all about!

I will be sure to keep you posted about my journey to Kentucky!


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

2008 British Grand Prix Freestyle Champion, and British National Champion Dressage Rider, Maria Eilberg (GBR)

The 2008 British Grand Prix Freestyle Champion and British National Dressage Champion, Maria Eilberg, 26, blogs about her horses, and her journey to the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games:

So, with having had a major effort in Spain in April (The Spanish Sunshine Tour) in March it was nice to have some home time. I enjoyed Easter, almost didn't remember but a few Easter Eggs helped! We were fairly chilled for the bank holiday and had catch up time with the family which was nice.

(Pictured: Maria and Two Sox winning the National Grand Prix Title in 2008)

April 9-11 I had Woodlander Rockstar, an 8yr old dark bay Hannovarian Stallion who is owned by Lynne Crowden of the Woodlander Stud, compete in our National Winter Championships. He went very well and won his class which was the Advanced Medium Open Championship. Being first to go I thought it was going to be difficult to hold the lead from the front but he did it bless him! I think having gone to Spain prepared us well for the atmosphere; you always come back being somewhat bomb proof with having had almost everything thrown at you from barking dogs to whizzing mopeds to screaming kids. At the time it is a little frustrating but in the long run the horses need to learn to cope with it and put their trust in you—you never know what might happen for those few minutes in the ring! I had also been preparing him at home as though I was going to ride a PSG, the Adv Med then felt easy. I could tell as I rode him around the arena that he was pretty relaxed and focused, he didn't even flinch at the banners. Generally he is feeling so much stronger and established in his work and I feel he is now ready to move up a gear! My brother Mike did very well on his small tour horse Torino in the Int 1 Music in the evening. It was quite a long wait with Rockstar having gone at half one but it was worth the wait. I managed to catch a glimpse of some of the other evening performances aswell, as is nearly always the case when you're competing you don't get to see anything! Have to say I thought the Bad Boys Pas de Deux with Charlie Hutton and Henry Boswell was great, they were wearing leather jackets with shades, very cool!!

Two Sox, my Grand Prix horse, was not happy to be left at home but his turn will come again soon (he is enjoying a well deserved break after Spain.) I managed to lead him out for some grass for the first time yesterday which he thoroughly enjoyed with a big smirk across his face. He so loves all the extra pamper and I have to say he is thoroughly spoilt, as they all are! It is amazing how they thrive on individual attention so it is really important to make that extra time for them.

Worldwide, a stallion I am riding for the Parkland Stud, has now started with the double bridle. Touch wood he seems to be liking it, I've only put a very soft curb in to get him used to it. He is also starting with the flying changes as well-with having qualified him for the Summer Regs at Medium before I went to Spain it now gives me a bit of time to play with the changes without having to worry about competing.

I had actually planned to go on holiday towards the end of April, but my brother Michael was invited to go to Saumur so I have had to stay at home to keep things going. With the volcanic ash cloud my flight was cancelled anyway which made me feel a little better!

The weather has been lovely so the horses have been enjoying the sunshine, we have been hacking out, riding on the sandtrack and hand grazing. I have been doing a few new things with Rockstar in preparation for the Intermediare 1, he is currently working at Prix St Georges. I am planning on going to Germany for a couple of shows with Two Sox and it would be great if I can take Rockstar for the small tour as well . . .

We have a few young horses in the stable at the moment, working with them has been fun and interesting, after having worked with the more advanced horses it makes you remember where it all starts, I feel like I am learning all over again!

May has proved to be another busy month with Mike having been to Saumur, my Dad having been to Badminton to help with the Dressage and myself having done Central Camp followed by BYRDS and SW Training, and it's already time to start preparing for the Addington Premier Show which is next weekend! I am aiming to use it as a warm up for Wiesbaden and Lingen Internationals which are going to be held in Germany at the end May/begin June. I will be taking Two Sox for the big tour and Rockstar for the small tour-he hasn't even done his first PSG yet so this will be quite a challenge!!
(Here is a picture of our Jack Russell, "Rocky," who, by the looks of it, has been feeling just as tired as us this past week!)

The horses have been going quite well, and I am having to remind Two Sox he has not quite made retirement yet, and that he has some rather important shows coming up! I had been giving him a bit of a break from the arena, especially while the weather was so nice, with loads of hacking, sand tracking and of course the all important hand grazing and I think he is definitely of the opinion that that is how life should be! It is very important to keep his mind happy and interested as he has been doing the Grand Prix work for 6 years now. Rockstar on the other hand is still learning and having to get his head around some of the more advanced movements-he is coping very well, I think he is really enjoying learning new things and feeling very pleased with himself!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Update from Olympic Gold Medalist Beezie Madden (USA) on her European Tour

May 17, 2010--We just finished our first Super League competition in La Baule, France, as a team and the Americans did extremely well. The team consisted of myself with Mademoiselle, McLain Ward with Sapphire, Richard Spooner with Cristallo, Mario Deslauriers with Urico and Hillary Dobbs with Quincy B. We all had additional horses there for classes other than the Nations Cup and Grand Prix. We finished second in the Nations Cup to the home team of France and McLain won the Grand Prix with Sapphire. Mario finished just behind him in second with Urico. In addition, McLain won two other classes with a new horse, I won a 1.50m class with Via Volo, and Richard Spooner won the Derby with Pako. McLain ended up the Leading Gentleman Rider of the show, and I was the Leading Lady Rider.

I was pleased with Mademoiselle’s performance since she was third the first day in the qualifier for the Grand Prix and then had just four faults in the Grand Prix. Our chef de equip, George Morris, chose not to have me ride on the Nations Cup this week, but based on Mademoiselle’s performance in La Baule, he plans on having me on the Nations Cup team in Rome. I hope she and I can have a great performance there to boost her chances of making the team for the WEG in October. Since she is a new partner for me and she finished ninth in the rankings, she needs to come on strong now to make up some ground on the others.

Since I haven’t written in a while, I would like to give a brief summary of what the horses have been doing. Danny Boy and Mademoiselle both had a few weeks of light work after the Florida Circuit. They traveled to Lexington, KY instead of home with our other horses, so they could be there for the test event at the horse park during the Rolex Three Day Event the last week in April. I planned to compete with them in two competitions there, but due to inclement weather, the first one on Saturday night was cancelled. That meant that Sunday was my only chance to get them into the stadium. Luckily, they both were very comfortable in it. Danny Boy won the Grand Prix and Mademoiselle was fifth. Obviously, the course was not as big as what it will be at the WEG, but I was relieved to know that both horses liked the venue.

From there they went home for one week and then flew to Europe. They stayed about three days at our base in Holland, at Johan Heins’s stable, and then traveled by van to LaBaule. Right now, Danny Boy is in Torino waiting to compete there this week, and Mademoiselle is in Milan for one week of R&R before her next competition in Rome. More to come after Rome!


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Endurance Rider Kathy Brunjes (USA) Blogs About Spring Training and the Upcoming 2010 Games Endurance Selection Trials

Training in the NE going along nicely - weather has been phenomenal, with temps in the mid-70s. April in Maine usually means icy trails, 2-3 foot snow banks and temps around 40 degrees. With the mild weather, we are not only able to get out on trails usually blocked until mid-May, but we're also getting some good "heat" training in for the more southern competitions coming up. Southern, of course for those of us in the NE, means anything south of Massachusetts!

The weekend of April 10-11 was an FEI endurance "qualifying" event in Inyokern, California - I was scheduled to attend this, flying out to San Francisco, to compete on a young horse belonging to fellow WEG nominees (and friends) Heather and Jeremy Reynolds. Unfortunately I had to cancel due to a death in my family. We'll try to get together in mid-May outside of San Jose for another qualifying event for both riders and horses.

Our major training attempts are focusing on the prestigious Biltmore Challenge (first weekend of May) in Asheville, NC. The course winds around the Biltmore estate. All FEI endurance events are qualifying events for riders and horses working up the FEI mileage "ladder" and the (formerly called) certificate of capability required in the qualification process.

Since I was unable to go to California, I'll be away to increase mileage in our training; 15-20 miles per horse per day over the weekend. All endurance riders on the ERRL (endurance rider ranking list) met (by teleconference) with our Chef last evening to touch basis and go over use of our GPS units during our training sessions. You can feel the excitement in the athletes' voices as they ask questions and respond to our Chef's questions.

Selection trials are in another month, and athletes and horses are continuing their quest to complete their qualifications. The Biltmore Challenge was held in Asheville, NC during the weekend of May 1, an important FEI ** and *** event for endurance; with near-perfect weather conditions (although there had been predicted thunder storms/storm cell to arrive mid-day, the weather held off until later in the evening, when most riders/horses had completed the course) and no mud on course this year, it proved to be a challenge, never-the-less for many athletes. Yours truly did not complete the course on my alternate horse prospect, being eliminated at the end of the fourth phase (at 70 miles) for left front lameness. Running out of time to qualify this particular horse - my primary mount will be my nominated horse for the selection trials.

There should be between 50-60 horses/athletes at the three zone trials; Central Zone will host the first of the three trials from June 18-20 in Danville, IL. East Zone will be held at Fair Hill in Elkton, MD during June 21-23 and the Selectors and Chef and veterinarians will conclude their marathon evaluations on the West Coast from June 24-26 (Prineville, OR). Footing for all three trials should be very close to what is anticipated in Kentucky at WEG and although the West Coast trial may not be as humid as Kentucky could be, the Central and East trials should come pretty close to what we can expect in Kentucky.

Athletes and Chef are "meeting" monthly via telephone conference call, going over expectations for both the trials and the WEG. Everyone is getting pumped!

This past weekend I took Theatric to a local (4 hours away) endurance event (a 30-mile Limited Distance and a 50-mile open) as a small tune up ride. We entered the Limited Distance (30-mile) due to weather conditions - unexpected cold spell with rain, snow flurries (yes, in May!) and 40 degree temps. Theatric's 3/4 brother, Synthetic (ridden by my good friend Melody Blittersdorf - also a nominated WEG contender who has just received her invitation to attend a selection trial as a "Wild Card" invitee) was also at this ride, so Mel and I decided to ride together as a team and let our boys have some fun. Both horses breezed the 30 miles and averaged a nice 10 mph speed over the hills and through the bad weather to finish tied for first place. It's always fun to win - especially with such great team mates. We were able to put the horses up, shower and have lunch before noon! There's something to be said about Limited Distance!

I'm off to California for the Shine and Shine Only endurance events (May 14-16) in San Jose, California. I'll be riding another team mates horse (Heather and Jeremy Reynolds of Los Gatos, Calif.) on his first 75 mile event. I'm looking forward to seeing all my West Coast friends, and our Chef this weekend. The next East Coast 50-mile endurance event will be held in CT/RI at the Escoheag Park (hosted by the New England Arabian Trail Organization - NEATO). A good many of the East nominated riders and horses will be using this 50-mile event as a final warm-up/tune-up for our selection trial in June.

More news to follow - I'll report on the West coast riders after the SASO events this coming weekend.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Follow Australian Show Jumper Edwina Alexander On the Road to the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Edwina Alexander is writing a diary for the Official Athlete Blog of the 2010 Games as she prepares for the 2010 Global Champions Tour (GCT) and the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG). Here is Edwina's second entry...

The last month…

The last month has been a real rollercoaster with quite a few shows and then the Rolex FEI World Cup Final. Overall, I’m feeling pretty good in myself and I’m trying to get as much rest as possible, but not doing too much isn’t the easiest thing in the world at the moment! I was up at 4am last Wednesday morning to go to Copenhagen for a photo shoot and got back home at about 1am the following morning. I was then up very early to jump five horses ahead of the four-day show in Mannheim, so I haven’t had as much rest as I would have hoped for!

Itot (Cevo Itot Du Château)…

Itot was a completely different horse when he arrived in Geneva for the Rolex Final compared to how he was in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and Paris. I’m not quite sure what happened but his back was causing him a lot of discomfort; maybe he rolled in his box, but I really didn’t know what the problem was at the time. In hindsight I shouldn’t have jumped Itot on the second day of the Final, and I was thinking that before I went into the ring; sometimes you should listen to your own instinct. After the round my osteopath took a look at Itot and said that one of his joints was a little bit out, so it was just a case of putting that back in. Thankfully, after one week of just walking, being on the lunge and some massage, he’s much better. I did some small jumps with him this morning and he’s feeling like his old self again.

Rolex FEI World Cup™ Final, Geneva…

The Rolex FEI World Cup Final was a fantastic experience and in my opinion it’s one of the most beautiful indoor shows in the world. I stayed at a fantastic hotel which was right opposite the showground, which was lovely and also extremely convenient when I needed to practice or get to my classes! I was typically doing some light riding every morning between 7 – 8.00am to get the horses loose and relaxed, and I think I rode once at lunchtime as the classes weren’t until the evening. Outside of that I watched a little bit of the other classes, did a bit of reading and went for a few walks to try and stay as relaxed as I possibly could. I was obviously disappointed with my result in the Rolex FEI World Cup, but Socrates’ (Cevo Socrates) performance and second place in the Grand Prix was a great consolation; he always seems to pull something out when it matters.

What’s next…?

This weekend I go to Mannheim and I’ll take four horses, one who I’ve only ridden once and who I don’t know at all! It will give some of my younger, less experienced horses a chance to step up another level, and I aim to do that at least once every three weeks with those kinds of horses. My focus now is very much on the GCT, which starts in Valencia and runs from 7 – 9 May.

Summer 2010’s schedule…

I’m going to be playing this summer a lot by ear but Itot is very much at the forefront of my plans as, being the number one horse, he is going to have the best and busiest programme. I’m conscious not to give him too much work as I want him to fully recover from his back injury. Itot will go to Valencia and then on to Hamburg, and then I have a pretty heavy programme with my other horses. I go to the Turin leg of the GCT and after that to the Formula One Grand Prix in Monaco, which I’m really excited about. Following Turin I go to Wiesbaden for a couple of days, then back home for a day or so, and then to the Rome CSIO – so a busy schedule coming up.

Edwina Alexander, Olympic and World Equestrian Games Jumper, is a friend of Rolex. Edwina will be competing at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

2008 Paralympic Silver Medalist Angelika Trabert (GER)

First of all I want to excuse myself - sorry my second blog entry has taken so long. A lot has kept me from my desk. See for yourself:
(Pictured: Angelika Trabert on Ariva-Avanti)

LONDRIA, went with me on a training weekend with Manolo Oliva and did really well BUT the following week she was not a 100% sound. What a shock! She was diagnosed by 2 different vets with something very similar to a carpal tunnel syndrome in humans. So what does that mean?

First and foremost, LONDRIA will fully recover! But it will take time (not something we have a great deal of this year). However, to keep her fit without too much muscle loss while not being ridden, she is receiving suitable wellness training on my account...including aquatraining (water training). We will have to skip the first qualification competition in Mannheim in May. But we hope to be ready to "Rock and Roll" again for the Germans in July. In between we will have to attend training weekends and regular horse shows to prove that we are fit and ready. Quite a challenge ...

WALMOREL had her first foal on the 26th of March - a very nice little colt by Fuerst Romancier. His name is "Finaud Coquin" (pictured right). I think (hope) he has a bright future. But talking of the future, competitions in 2010 to be precise, as both of my horses (L & W) were one way or the other not up to joining me on training weekends I have been in a bit of a bind. However, again I was lucky. Heinrich, a good friend and the owner of the establishment where I stable my horses, found another horse which I am able to ride.

So let me introduce:
ARIVA-AVANTI (pictured above), a 7 year old mare by Alabaster, dam sir Florestan I. She is fairly young and has had no proper training in the last two years (she had 2 foals instead). I have been riding her for the last three weeks and she impresses me with her intelligence, fairness and her attitude. We have travelled to three different training weekends throughout Germany. Each time she was very excited, but after being shown around, she adapted quickly to the new situation. So in two weeks we will have our first regular horse show. I would be very happy if I could just manoeuvre her through the test without a major error. If this is the case we will go straight to our first international horse show in Mannheim. It will be very exciting (for both of us) I suspect we could probably both do with some extra nerve. So everything is in progress and I sure hope I can prove the quality of my horses which as you know I admire greatly!

Monday, May 10, 2010

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

Four-time World Champion Four-in-Hand Driver, IJsbrand Chardon (NED) blogs about his sucess in the 2010 FEI World Cup Driving Finals, and his journey to the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
(Photo Credit:Rinaldo de Craen)

We completed our indoor driving season with the third place in the FEI World Cup Driving Final in Geneva, Switzerland. The World Cup season was successful for me. I bought three Lipizzaner horses of my Hungarian colleague Jozsef Dobrovitz at the end of November, especially to compete in indoor competitions. The four-in-hand team I had for indoor driving was good, but the standard nowadays is so high that I had to make a change in order to be able to win. I successfully competed in several World Cup competitions with these Lipizzaners and I qualified for the Final. Three weeks ago I completed the team with the fourth Lipizzaner horse, which I also bought from Dobrovitz. I am very pleased with the third place in Geneva and my goal is to perform even better with this grey team during the coming indoor World Cup season. The Final was a good closure of the indoor season and we are looking forward to the outdoor season with the WEG in Kentucky as highlight.

We already started the preparations for the WEG straight after I won my fourth individual World Championship title on home soil in Beesd in 2008.

I have 8 horses at my disposal, amongst which the same horses as in Beesd:

Tomasson, 1990, KWPN gelding, all-round horse and usually goes in the wheel in the dressage and cones competition.

Argus, 1995, KWPN gelding, all-round horse

Isovlas Tango, 1996, Swedish warm blood gelding, all-round horse

Isovlas Paganini, 1994, Swedish warm blood gelding, all-round horse

Zidane, 1992, KWPN gelding, all-round horse and usually one goes in the dressage and cones competition.

Whooper, 2003, KWPN gelding, all-round horse but specialized in dressage. Whooper was successfully part of my team in 2009 at several big competitions.

Victory, 2002, KWPN gelding, all-round horse

Zep, 2004, KWPN gelding, all-round horse

Kelvin, 1992, KWPN gelding, marathon horse.

Last year we invested in the accommodation of our riding school and training centre which turned out to be very useful last winter! We built a large indoor arena so I was able to train throughout the very cold winter period in The Netherlands last months. We also realized an outdoor driving arena with an all-weather footing, which allows me to train under ideal circumstances.

I believe it has been a great advantage to me that I was able to keep training in the winter. I have not lost one day of training and the horses are very fit.

I focus on dressage training and I also select new horses on their dressage skills. If you get too far behind in dressage, you have already lost the competition. My horses are all ridden regularly, this is good for their balance, bending, discipline, obedience, just good for everything really!

I also drive them in a pair regularly and since March I drive them in a team once a week.

It all looks well, we have had our first national training in March and I was very pleased with their performance. We have several highlights this season before Kentucky; Zelhem, Aachen the Dutch Championships. We will use these shows to compete against the other top drivers and to see where we stand!

To visit IJsbrand Chardon's Website, go to

Friday, May 7, 2010

Canadian Reiner and 2010 Games Hopeful, Lisa Coulter

I have been a little worried about connecting with my new horse, Weg, but after the CRI at the NRBC in mid April in Texas I am feeling a lot more confident! I decided I needed to run him hard and we had a great run. I was a little tentative as the goal wasn't to win it but the goal was to go hard under pressure and against top horses and see how we fared. We ended up with a good score of 219.5 and in 6th place. I was pleased with that but more pleased with the connection Weg and I are making. I feel we are getting to a trust level in the show pen that is critical to us being a successful team. I will be schooling him and Ace now in preparation for the final in mid July to select our WEG team. I have decided to only take the 2 horses and leave Angel at home. I just think that is the best strategy and management is part of what it takes to win. (Pictured: Lisa Coulter on her horse Weg. Photo Credit: Waltenberry)

I was posed with an interesting question recently. I am a guest on a radio talk show that is following athletes on their quest for WEG (Horse Radio Network). It is a lot of fun to do and the hosts, Samantha and Glenn, are wonderful. They asked a thoughtful question about why there were so few women in the sport of Reining at a professional level. I stammered over the answer. There are truly great professional women in Reining but the numbers are very low. However the Non Pro level is filled with super talented women. They do not make their living at it though. So I have given this a lot of thought but still have few answers. There are plenty of equine sports that are filled with women pros. I keep going back to the fact that Reining was derived from Cutting and that is a cowboys' cowboy game. There are many successful women in the Cutting but I see it also have more men in numbers than women. So it could be we are somewhat of a boys club that simply does not attract women. Lets not forget Reining is only about 40 years old so maybe as it grows more women will become professionals in it. I don't see one reason a woman cannot make a career in the Reining industry. There are many doing it and have done so for years. I am proud to be in the Reining industry and have never felt at a disadvantage being a woman. I always say that its actually better as I get to be the one in the pretty shirts!! Its an interesting question and I wonder if there is a definite answer?

Looking to June I will be going to a couple schooling shows but nothing competitive. All efforts are pointed to the preparation to make the team. I will be keeping Weg and Ace focused and ready to perform. I know all the equine disciplines are gearing up and preparing for WEG and Reiners everywhere are focusing and awaiting the challenge!

Monday, May 3, 2010

2009 AERC National Champion Endurance Rider and UC Davis Veterinary Student, Lindsay Graham (USA)

Hi, my name is Lindsay Graham and I am a fourth year veterinary student at UC Davis. I have been competing in endurance since 2004 but began riding as a kid and showed in hunter/jumpers for several years. On the international level, I competed in the 2005 North American Endurance Championships as a Pacific North Squad member on a horse named Phoenix Affair. This horse also took me to a 7th place Tevis Cup finish in 2006. (Photo: Lindsay and her horse, Monk)

At the end of the 2008 endurance season I began riding a horse named Monk, owned by Chris Martin of Grass Valley, CA. Chris needed a jockey to campaign his horse at the international level so I shortly took over the reins.

Monk is a 15.3, leggy Arabian gelding that is very quiet on the ground but means business under saddle. He has proven to be a spectacular athlete with a 100% completion rate, 1st place finish and Best Condition at the 2009 AERC 100 mile National Championships and a recent 2nd place finish and Best Condition at the 100 mile CEI *** Git R Done ride. The talent that this horse possesses is beyond what I have ever experienced I am looking forward to what lies ahead.

Finding time to train Monk has been a challenge as school takes up most of my time. Chris and I have worked out a great system where he does most of the training and hard work and I ride Monk whenever and wherever I can. Monk and I have finished our WEG qualifications, are currently tied for fifth on the national training list and at the moment, are fine-tuning ourselves for the big events ahead.