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!