Friday, October 8, 2010

Anky van Grunsven blogs about a new WEG experience: Reining

I really enjoyed beying here at the WEG. Some time ago I decided to withdraw IPS Painted Black for the Dutch dressage team and to focus on reining. One of the Dutch reining horses got lame and I got a spot on the team. I seriously considered going to the WEG, but I am so glad that I went! It was the right decision and Whizashiningwalla BB and I did our best test so far here at the WEG. We scored 71,5, which was a new personal best and I am very proud of Whiz. I did not make it to the second qualifier round, which made me a bit sad. I had hoped to make it to the best 35, but with a 39th place we just missed that. Despite that, I am proud!

I would like to thank my sponsor Cavalor, who made sure that their American supplier brought horsefood to Kentucky for Whiz. I stayed to watch the dressage competition as well. I train two Italian dressage riders and I also help the Dutch eventing rider Tim Lips with his dressage. So still there was enough to do even after I was finished competing!

We have been at the showground a lot and the weather was nice and warm. At the moment it’s a bit colder. The past days we went swimming with the children. Later this week I will definately go shopping and buy myself a new cowboy hat!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Seven-time USEF Four-in-Hand Driving Champion, Chester Weber (USA), on his final preparations for the 2010 Games

Chester Weber and the Road to WEG 2010

It was a busy month but June proved to be quite rewarding for my team in training. We successfully captured first place at the Garden State Driving Event in Allentown, New Jersey and finished the competition over 34 penalties below the rest of the teams. I have the opportunity to work with my horses and play with their strengths and weaknesses.

During the last weekend in June I competed at the Bromont International Driving Competition in Quebec, Canada. I am very pleased with my win and really proud of my less experienced team of horses. The marathon course was quite challenging but the horses were up to the test. My young horse Reno really stood out and is proving to be very consistent.

My next competition was the Iron Horse CDE in Illinois, July 30 to August 1st. I teamed up with my sponsors Charles Owen and SUCCEED to auction off a helmet for a spin on their national “Helmets 4 Riders” campaign called “Helmets 4 Drivers”. I want to congratulate Mary Sheerin, the winner of the Charles Owen helmet certificate. Proceeds from the silent auction were donated to Habitat for Humanity.

My team and I are on the last stretch towards WEG. We are traveling north to Cedar Lane Farm in Oldwick, New Jersey where James Fairclough, Tucker Johnson, Josh Rector, David Sanders and I will be participating in a USEF hosted outing for the four-in-hand driving competitors. We will be in New Jersey September 1-3 and will be training with our coaches Peter Tischer and Michael Freund.

In this phase every detail of our training and performance is under close scrutiny and we feel the team is on course to peak at the Games. It is very exciting and we are also mentally focused to put forth our best. So as they say...let the games begin!!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Canadian Reiner Lisa Coulter on her journey to the 2010 Games and those who have supported her along the way

Well we are literally just a few short days from WEG and a lot of emotions are stirring. WEG will be THE biggest accomplishment in my career. It also fulfills a lifelong dream of representing my country with the most elite equine athletes in the world. But this growing sense of accomplishment and pride lends itself to another realization. I see clearly that none of this would mean much without the loud cheers, tears, hugs, support, criticism and love from those who have mentored, believed in and raised me.

This spring two of the most important people in my life were diagnosed with cancer. It came as a shock and sent us all in a tail spin. Bob Thompson has been my backbone for many years. I have trained horses for Bob for a long time. He mentors me in business and most importantly he is my very best friend. He believed in me when I was still breaking colts and his support has never waivered. I owe so much to Bob’s dedication and ultimate belief in my ability. Bob is battling hard and will be victorious. He has taught me how to win in life and I dedicate my WEG rides to our victory. Bob told me I would be competing at WEG one day and he felt that long before I did.

My dad, Marv Carlson, was diagnosed the same time as Bob. Words will never express the adoration and love I have for my father. My dad is the reason I am fulfilling my dream of riding at WEG. He taught me determination, hard work, tenacity and absolute and ultimate belief in myself and my dreams. The spirit he instilled in me is the reason he too will be victorious in his battle. I also dedicate my rides at WEG to my dad and thank him with all my heart for always being by my side and giving his whole life to his family, especially my daughter Clancy.

No matter what happens at WEG my family and friends are already embracing the journey we have been on to get here and cherishing the seemingly simple fact that we are all here. I owe my life to these two men and a couple rides are a small, small gift. However, my hope is that they see the gleam in my eye and feel the spirit in my smile and know they are responsible.

I was going to talk about preparations and final steps to WEG which are so very important at this time but they seemed a bit trivial to what really is going on in my life. I wanted to take this opportunity to embrace all those who have loved and believed in me. They took a very small town girl and put her in Lexington, Kentucky at the World Equestrian Games! Victory is already ours and the rest will be history!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Lauren Barwick (CAN) Para Equestrian Athlete and 4 star Parelli Instructor

I have been looking forward to the 2010 WEG especially since it is being held here in the USA. Since I started competing internationally in 2002, I have traveled mostly to Europe to compete against the top riders, but this time it will be a hop, skip and a jump over to Lexington. My England 2012 horse is not as of yet emotionally ready for a competition of this size so I have been trying to keep my gold and silver medal Beijing 2008 horse in training for Worlds. Maile has age and physical limitations against her, however her accuracy, with her heart and desire will help her through WEG with great results. Maile has had a fantastic 2010 show season with her highest results most recently in Canada at a 3 star International show scoring 78% in her freestyle, and overall grade 2 championship.

Her training involves mostly supelling exercises, stretching and cardio strengthening. Since this will be her last International competition with me as a grade 2 rider I have decided not to change her freestyle from the one she performed in Hong Kong winning a gold medal.

My second horse in training for WEG is L’Amistat (Manny). I have been partnered with him since January. We are still getting to know one another and he is learning to adapt well to my aids which are very different from an able bodied person. He has great technique and knows dressage well. He just needs to improve on his expression, exuberance, and communication with me, his partner.

With WEG being in the USA, I am looking forward to all the sideline support. With the competition being so close it will allow friends and family the opportunity to support all riders.

As a Para Equestrian I am ecstatic being involved in the first World games that have all the FEI sports competing at the same venue within the same time line. This is really a step forward for our sport and I hope spectators take advantage of the opportunity to be inspired and empowered by watching what is possible!!

I am fortunate that I actually get to be involved in the 2010 WEG in two ways. My sponsors and full time educational program, Parelli Natural Horsemanship will be there for the full two weeks as demonstrators. I have three other horses that will be at WEG as a part of the Parelli demo team. Before the Para Equestrian Canadian team goes into team training camp, I will participate in demos with Parelli showing their principles and the kind of foundation I believe will help a performance horse achieve their optimum potential.

Lauren Barwick – WEG Competitor: Para Dressage
Parelli Level 4 Mastery Student
2008 Gold and Silver medalist (Beijing Paralympic Games)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Four-Time World Champion Four-in-Hand Driver, IJsbrand Chardon (NED), Well on His Way to Kentucky

Successful last rehearsal
After I had driven a good dressage test in Zelhem and Saumur, I had planned to start with the horses of Argentinean four-in-hand driver Baron Wolf von Buchholtz at Riesenbeck. Von Buchholtz has not recovered completely yet from his hunting accident last fall and I have trained his horses this season.

After my somewhat disappointing score in Aachen where I had to miss my all-round horse Argus, I decided to change my plans and to start in Lähden instead of in Riesenbeck. German four-in-hand driver Christoph Sandmann organizes a wonderful international combined driving event at his place every two years and this year, the complete world top was represented again. Including my biggest opponent for the World title, Australia’s Boyd Exell. I wanted to battle against him one more time after Aachen and drive a good dressage test.

I had brought the seven-year-old Whooper to Lähden, who was also part of my winning team in Saumur in 2009 and 2010. My team went very well in Lähden and everyone said that the difference with Boyd in the dressage should have been bigger. I stayed ahead of him in the marathon and I drove a double clear round in the cones, despite the pressure Boyd put on me. I won the competition and that felt super, especially because I now have the feeling that I have made up for Aachen. Lähden was my last competition before the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky and I will focus completely now on the World Championships.

It is my habit not to drive any more competitions four to five weeks before a World Championship and to create my own training camp. I focus on the six or seven horses, which are eligible for the World Championship. I drive them once a day and they are also ridden once a day. We will probably also train a few days at a competition site in The Netherlands or abroad.
I don’t know exactly yet which horses I will take to Kentucky. Argus, who was injured before the horse inspection in Aachen, is back in training again and he is doing well. Whooper did an excellent job in Saumur and in Lähden and he for sure contributes to my dressage team. In the marathon he does not perform less than Argus and he is strong and safe in the cones.

I will go to Kentucky with a good feeling. I don’t have to improve much, I just have to keep the form we had in Lähden. It will be a very exciting battle and especially the dressage will be important.

My carriages, harness, bicycles and other necessities are already on the boat to Kentucky. The horses will fly on September 28th. All Dutch driving horses fly together and will be accompanied by my wife Paulien and team veterinarian Ben Horsmans. My horses have never flown before, but I don’t see any problems. They are top fit and I don’t think they will suffer. They will stay in a quarantine stable for two days and then we take them directly to the show grounds where we will start training again. I am looking forward to the World Equestrian Games!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Six-time Olympic Dressage Gold Medalist Isabell Werth (GER) on the road to Kentucky

Isabell Werth is writing a diary for as she prepares for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ from 25 September – 10 October. Here is Isabell’s latest entry...

Plans beyond the CHIO Aachen and towards Kentucky (WEG)…

I was back in the saddle very quickly after the birth of my son, Frederik, and I´m feeling really well. My plan is to get in the best shape possible before Kentucky, and it’s encouraging that Satchmo and I have become more and more consistent in our performances as the months have gone by.

I was really pleased with how both horses (Satchmo and Hannes) performed at the Grand Prix at CHIO Aachen, and with a score of more than 75% I feel we can be quite satisfied and happy. However, we have higher expectations over the coming weeks and months, and the plan is to sort out the mistakes and concentrate on the finer details of our programme.

Between now and WEG we will go to the German Championships in Münster and following that the nominations will be announced, so I’m hoping that we can find our best form for that performance. We now know that the Dutch riders are very strong and so is Laura Bechtolsheimer, so we will be hoping to finish closer and closer to Laura and Adelinde (Cornelissen). Edward (Gal) seems to be in a league of his own but the other two riders are definitely within our reach.

Satchmo, Hannes, El Santo & Don Johnson…

As it stands Satchmo has qualified as my number one A, and Hannes as my number one B, although four years ago in Aachen it was the other was round. I am happy to have both horses on this level, and it is pleasing that Hannes has been so consistent and is not as spooky as he used to be.

Over the next two years we will see what happens to my two big hopes – El Santo (9-y-o) and Don Johnson (8-y-o) – who have both improved a lot. El Santo has already shown his talent in Grands Prix; however, Don Johnson still has to show his, so at the moment he will only compete in the small shows before he is ready for the Grand Prix circuit.

A new partner – Roberto Blanco…

I have some new freestyle music, which I am really excited about; it is mixed by Roberto Blanco and is really different to my old style. My thinking is that if we can’t win, we want to have fun; the music just really inspires me, and I hope it inspires the crowd, and of course the judges!

We had a meeting in the studio and Roberto was singing his famous song Ein bisschen Spass muss sein, and the Tom Jones song She’s a Lady. His music creates a real party atmosphere, which I think suits Satchmo really well. It was surprising how great Roberto was; he was really positive and motivated and he even met Satchmo! It will now be interesting for me to see how the music works in a competition environment and how the crowd will react, so I’m looking forward to it very much.

The German Dressage team at the WEG…

I am sure that Christoph (Koschel) and Annabel (Balkenhol) will do a really good job, and it’s normal that they will both need a bit more experience. Christoph surprised everybody with the improvements that he has made over the last few months, and his horse has huge potential. He had extra pressure on his shoulders at CHIO Aachen when he was the first team rider, but he performed well and he will now just grow in confidence.

Annabel and Christoph’s horses are both young and inexperienced so it will be a few more years until they reach their best form. This year and next will therefore be difficult for the German team and I don’t think it will be possible to beat the Dutch, but give us a couple of years and we will be competing with the best.

Isabell Werth, multiple Olympic Games gold medal winning dressage rider, is a Rolex equestrian sports Testimonee

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Follow Australian Show Jumper, Edwina Alexander, on the road to the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Edwina Alexander's Diary

Courtesy of Rolex

Edwina Alexander is writing a diary for as she prepares for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG). Here is Edwina's fourth entry...

Plans beyond the CHIO Aachen and towards Kentucky (The WEG)…

Itot (Cevo Itot Du Château) will have three more shows after Aachen – Chantilly, Valkenswaard and Rio de Janeiro – and then he will have a month’s break. He feels in really great shape and has been jumping well.

I’ve received an email from my Federation (Equestrian Australia) confirming that I am on the team for the WEG, and they also confirmed that if I have another horse which qualifies then I am able to take it as well. I’m pretty set up for WEG and I don’t really want to take another horse if it’s not 100% ready.

I recently sold four of my horses, including two that had qualified for WEG. On the back of those sales I have just received a new eight year old (Ciske Van Overis) that has already qualified; she was seventh in the Grand Prix in Hamburg with Guy Williams, and fifth with me in La Coruña. It’s not my plan to take her to WEG but she will be a back-up in the meantime while Itot is doing his preparations.

Overall, I’m looking forward to going to WEG and I fully appreciate how tough a competition it is. I personally think that WEG is the most difficult championship that we have in comparison to The Olympics as I feel that it takes a lot more out of the horse.

Looking back to the WEG in Aachen, 2006…

I have some fond memories of the World Equestrian Games™ in Aachen in 2006, above all finishing in the top four. My goal then was to get into the top 25 so I thought I did pretty well to get to that point. My Federation is a very strong supporter of whichever programme and direction I choose, but at the same time I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself. Everyone has their aim and their goal, so I’ll try to do my best this year and my goal is to finish in the top four again.

It’s very important to create a good programme for your horse afterwards as the championships take a lot out of them; they have to be very fit as we found out after the last WEG in Aachen.

The WEG in the USA for the first time…

My horses are used to travelling and are incredibly fit, so I don’t see this being a problem. They are booked to go and will arrive in Kentucky a week before the competition starts, which I think is plenty of time for them to acclimatise. The travelling aspect won’t be a problem, and funnily enough it will actually involve less travelling than if they were to go to somewhere like Portugal, within Europe

The WEG – an individual or a team performance?

I think that Australia has a pretty good team and that this year is absolutely our strongest ever; we have two other strong riders (Chris Chugg and James Patterson Robinson) and their horses, and the fourth partnership will be selected following competitions in Hachenburg and Paderborn.

I would like to think that realistically we could finish in the first five, and of course a medal would be fantastic. However, for me it is difficult to think of WEG as a team competition; I have to focus on myself, and I know that might sound a little bit selfish but that’s how it is, and how it’s been since I’ve been competing in Europe, especially over the last five or six years.

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™