A Unique Competition In A Unique Setting
A unique competition in a unique setting created an atmosphere of dressage for enjoyment - for invited riders, international judges, guests and members of the Windsor Community who hosted the first ever Windsor Invitational Grand Prix.
Invited riders, enjoyed a two night stay at the Vero Disney Resort, dinner with the judges and Windsor members at the Windsor Beach Club Restaurant, as well a $8,000 in prize money which was divvied between the top three place riders - Tina Konyot, and Sally Miller’s Anna Karenina, Michael Barisone on his fellow owner Jane Duvalsky’s Neruda, and Tami Crawford, on her own, Dakota.
Windsor, an exclusive planned village by the sea located on a barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River Lagoon, is just about eight miles north of Vero Beach and 90 minutes north of Wellington.
An entire town built from scratch with award winning architecture, courthouse homes, a golf course, polo field and equestrian club, this community has attracted a diverse group of people across the generations, from many parts of the world.
Those lucky enough to have been in residence on March 31 enjoyed some of the highest quality dressage rides to music, by some of America’s leading dressage riders.
A Relaxed Yet Electric Competition
The concept was developed by the Windsor Equestrian Center’s manager, Mary McGuire-Smith, in consultation with Olympian Michael Poulin, of DeLeon Springs, Florida. Not a recognized competition, the riders had the luxury of keeping their horse’s legs protected, and carrying a whip. Competitors, judges, and guests dined Tueday evening at The Windsor Restaurant, where the draw for the following day's competition was held.
Benefiting from the presence of noted international judges, Michael Poulin, Jessica Ransehousen, Natalie Lamping, Lorraine Stubbs, and Janet Brown, participants had the opportunity to socialize and gain advice in a relaxed environment.
The Windsor staff went all out to make sure this was an enjoyable experience for all, as show weary riders, many vying for the hotly contested top 12 position in the Olympic Selection Trials, had a chance to perform their freestyles, and just enjoy the day. Top event announcer Brian O’Connor educated the crowd, some seeing dressage for the first time, and Mary Phelps and JJ. Hathaway handled the photographic and video duties. All riders got a free video of their ride. Invited guests marveled at the show. “My four-year-old son sat perfectly still for over an hour!” marveled a Windsor resident, who comes from England each winter to “get as much sun as possible!”
Tina Konyot and Anna Karenina Rise to the Top
Tina Konyot won the event on Sally Miller's exquisite mare Anna Karenina, riding their first Freestyle, improvised with borrowed music from Susie Dutta. As the duo continue to gain the mileage needed for the realistic goal of making the top 4 US Dressage riders to go to Athens, the win at Windsor allowed them to pick up some prize money to help finance the journey to California for the June Selection Trials.
With her elevated and clearly defined piaffe passage movements the beautiful black KWPN Dutch mare by Sultan out of a Pion mare, demonstrated the strength of her heritage, as the crowd clearly enjoyed the twosome in action.
Michael Barisone and Neruda Perform to Superman Theme
Riding to music from Superman, a freestyle created for Barisone by Lu Spinks, showcased powerful movements to match the powerful music and the powerful pair. Their 73.825 score reflected the judges' delight. While Barisone still misses his former Grand Prix mount Safir, it is clear that this new combo is more suitable in size and presence.
Barisone has rarely missed being in the USET’s top 12, and has done so with several different mounts. Neruda another KWPN Dutch warmblood by Haarlem is co-owned by Barisone and Jane Duvalsky.
The Comeback Queen and Her Equine Prince
But the biggest comeback story of Dressage 2004 is Tami Crawford and Dakota, who placed third with an impressive 71.795%. Riding an elevated and expressive freestyle at Windsor, these two who were in the top 12 at the 2000 Olympic Selection Trials, are back again, flirting with the standings, and holding their own.
For Crawford, a mother of two from Tennessee, this achievement is nothing short of a miracle. After the 2000 Selection Trials Dakota developed an indefinable and debilitating issue with his shoulder, and was laid off for over a year. The 14-year-old gelding by Donnerhall has been Tami’s horse since he was a four-year-old, and like his stable mate Markant, Crawford has trained both her horses to Grand Prix competing successfully, in spite of raising a family and running a busy training and lesson operation at her farm in Franklin, Tennessee.
A Day to Remember
An evening cocktail party with residents, judges, and participants, topped off two relaxing but useful days at Windsor. As the sea breeze flowed through the barns in the golden setting sunlight, so did the wine and conversation. Look for this to be just the first of an annual event Windsor hopes to establish.
Grand Prix Freestyle
- 1. Tina Konyot/Anna Karenina/76.14
- 2. Michael Barisone/Neruda/73.825
- 3. Tami Crawford/Dakota/71.795
- 4. Susan Jaccoma/Harmony’s Coolio/69.145
- 5. Jim Armstrong/Gustaaf/68.57
- 6. Janne Rumbough/Triunfador XVIII/65.40
- 7. Heather Bender/Bona Sera/65.037
Exhibition Intermediare Freestyle
- 1. Carol Lavell/Much Ado/78.51
- 2. Susan Dutta/Romeo DC/69.00