I am Emeline Gilbert and I’m 13 years old. I event at Novice on my horse Rupert, an Irish Sport Horse. My family owns Eight Bells Farm in Statesville, home to Meyerhoff Show Horses and my trainers, Bobby and Danica Meyerhoff.  Previously, I competed at local hunter shows, but I always wanted to event - but hold that thought.

            Four years ago, I received my first horse, Fleur, now an eight-year-old Friesian. I got her for Christmas, wrapped in a bow. Of course, it was a major shock! Being four, she was still green and didn’t even know how to canter. Since I wanted to do hunters, she learned to jump and soon, to no one’s surprise, we discovered that she may do better with dressage.

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            We were going to need a horse that could jump well and teach me. My mom began the search without me knowing. My trainer, Jessica Fredericks, was a childhood friend of Bobby’s and knew Ace, Bobby’s retired 2-star horse.  My mom fell in love at first sight and before I knew it, Ace was on trial at the farm. Soon enough, he became ours and I showed him in the hunters. Our accomplishments were mainly Ace’s, he was like a “ringer”, but it sure was fun!

            Jessica moved to Hawaii and I started to train with multiple trainers. My mom had talked to the Meyerhoffs (planting seeds as she says) about coming to our farm, but we never expected it to really happen. I remember the day we received the phone call. We had just finished riding and I leaped around celebrating. Next thing I knew, here they were with all their horses. It was like a dream come true!

            This is how I came to the conclusion of yes, in fact, eventing is the thing to do! Ace had finished his eventing career, so we did jumpers. My mom rides him now; he enjoys this treat-filled lifestyle. Last Fall, Rupert came to the Meyerhoffs for training/sale. I got to see Bobby work with him and thought he looked awesome!

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            One day, Bobby and I made a bet. The bet was whoever could do ten pull-ups first could ask a favor of the other. Neither of us wanted to really do it and, in his defense, he didn't necessarily have a place to do pull-ups. Somehow I won the bet and I asked for a lesson on Rupert. Little did I know, this was the beginning of an adventure because we owned him a couple weeks later. I knew that this was going to take a lot of hard work and time.

            Rupert and I did our first event at the October War Horse Series at Carolina Horse Park running Beginner Novice. I had heard that Rupert tends to act up at the XC start box. Cross country is crazy because there are parts of the course where you can’t be seen by anyone you know. It makes it even more of a thrill rush. It’s my favorite of course! We had a decent dressage test and a great show jumping round. At the XC start box, Rupert acted up quite a bit and if it hadn't been a schooling show, we would have been eliminated, but all in all it was a great learning experience.

            Our next show was this Summer. We went with Bobby to the Maryland Horse Trials at Loch Moy Farm. Competing at Beginner Novice, we started off with a great dressage test landing us in second. Next, we moved onto show jumping and cross country going double clear. We learned that if Bobby leads him through the start box, he will behave himself. There were so many riders I have seen at Rolex that were competing. It was overwhelming!

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            Late Summer was Riverglen Horse Trials in Tennessee. This was our first Novice together. Our dressage was challenging because the ring was right by XC, but we ended clear with a few XC time penalties.  Again, it was a great learning experience!

            Sadly, our season was cut short as Rupert has struggled with uveitis. I have an unintentional education in that disease. I hate uveitis - it is awful and cruel. Rupert has been to NCSU nine times culminating in a cyclosporine implant surgery into both of his eyes. This is not a cure, but an NCSU-pioneered procedure that is his only hope in combatting this disease. I hope it will allow us to get back to competition next Spring.

            I have learned so much through this wonderful horse and I am so excited for the rest of our journey. I hope to take him with me to Young Riders for his second time. I also would love to be a professional and compete at Rolex following in Bobby’s footsteps.