For Tami Fleming Crawford, a lifetime career with horses brought her to the highest level of American Dressage when she made the top 12 for the 2000 Olympic Selection Trials with her longtime partner Dakota.
However, the trials ended in disappointment, with Dakota inexplicably lame. "We spent thousands of dollars with the best vets in Kentucky. They did two atomic bone scans and x-rays standing and laying down and nobody can definitively say what was the matter." He appeared to have radial nerve damage but then it traveled to the other leg. Just when things looked like they might get better, the gelding contracted pleurisy. “After he got over that we just decided the best thing that we could do for him was to pull his shoes and turn him out. My friend Judy Tudor kept him for me and turned him out with some old broodmares."
In spite of the challenges and disappointments along the way, Crawford has never once taken for granted the gifts her horses, family, friends, and the sport of dressage have given her. Dakota recouperated and made a comeback, placing fifth at last year’s World Cup trials in Los Angeles and competing successfully again at the Grand Prix level.
Crawford's perspective on things changed in those two turbulent years. "I have a whole different attitude about showing Dakota now," she said. "I consider every day a gift. I think because I have taken so much of the pressure off he is really blooming and coming in to his own. He will be as good as he can be and that is all I can ask for."