The legendary dressage trainer, and father of well known American dressage star Tina Konyot, passed away Wednesday, February 8, 2006, peacefully in his home surrounded by his loving family at the age of 91. Services and a celebration of his life are planned for Monday, February 13, in Palm City, Florida. Click here for more details
Alex Konyot came to the United States from Hungary in 1939 where he eventually joined the military to earn his citizenship. After the war, he joined the Ringling Circus. He met his wife Josephine ("Fina"), from Czechoslovakia who was already part of the Circus when she came to the United States for the World's Fair in New York in 1939. She was a high wire walker and to this day is still the only woman to walk the high wire without a net.
Alex Konyot was one of the first true dressage trainers in the United States and influenced the riding careers of many individuals including Kathy Von Ertfelda, Robert Dover, Michael Poulin and of course his own daughter Tina Konyot. Her father taught and trained her in the beginning until she went on to Europe to advance her riding career, becoming one of America's finest and most beautiful riders. Tina's brother Randy Konyot is a well know hunter-jumper rider and trainer.
"He could teach a donkey to piaffe and passage." recalls Kathy Von Ertfelda, who trained her first two horses to Grand Prix with Alex Konyot, and was with him on his last day on this earth. "He had incredible tact and was of the old classical school of riding, and was great friends with Nuno Olivera in Portugal. He would always say 'That's enough already' and 'What are you doing up there? Let the horse do it!'"
Emily Kannenstine,a long time friend of the family who has always considered Alex her mentor, said "Just the day before he passed away, Alex told me how he has had a 'long and wonderful life'."
The passing of Alex Konyot marks the end of an era in American Dressage where he provided much of the early influence of the sport and more importantly the art of dressage in this country.
"He went the way we all should, after a long and productive life, at home, and with the people who love us surrounding us." said Robert Dover, who trained with Konyot as a Young Rider. "He would, if my hands or position moved even ever so slightly, scream at me that I was a "shoemaker"! He could speak many languages fluently and swear in many more. " Robert recalled fondly. "Someone could bring him their 4th level horse on a Thursday, and pick it back up on the following Sunday doing the entire Grand Prix as well as Spanish Walk and Trot, bowing, and able to get on a small box with all four feet and take a carrot out of your mouth! And this was all trained with love and never with abusive methods. He was truly a genius of another era."