Canadian Olympic hopeful Chris von Martels traveled to Tryon International Equestrian Center (North Carolina) last week to give his horses exposure to a different venue with a big atmosphere. That decision paid off, as he and Eclips on Sunday, April 25, won the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI4* on a score of 79.09%.
Von Martels rode the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Apache—Kebora, Olympic Ferro) he owns in partnership with Barbara Soederhuizen, aiming for a fun experience rather than a pressure-filled ride.
“He’s amazing. He’s my dream horse, and today we just went in with a fun expectation and to try to solve a few little rideability things that I’ve felt in the Grand Prix,” von Martels said. “I tried a few things with a different approach, and that worked out for me. He is always a horse that gives 200%, and I really believe in him. Today he showed everybody that he can do it.”
Von Martels, who is based in Wellington, Florida, placed third with Eclips in the FEI Grand Prix CDI4* on Friday. He’ll return to Wellington and start making plans for training camp, should he be selected to represent Canada in Tokyo later this summer.
“One of the reasons I chose to come here was because it is a real international atmosphere,” he said. “Our horses do get used to competing just in the one arena at [the Adequan Global Dressage Festival], which definitely has a lot of pros, but they also need to of course see different places. My horse proved he is fine, and actually I think he enjoys a big venue like this. He’s a little bit of a showoff horse, so he likes to have some atmosphere around him.”