There’s a first for everything in the world of horses, and Tina Konyot had a lot of firsts at Devon on Saturday, Sept. 26. It was her first Grand Prix freestyle with Calecto V, her first appearance with him in the Dixon Oval, and their first Grand Prix freestyle win.
“I’m actually overwhelmed,” said Konyot, North Stonington, Conn. “There are lots of things to fix and make stronger and more consistent, but he has so much talent and is so happy doing his job. It’s nice to have something special that I’m trying to develop.”
Konyot and Calecto performed their freestyle in the rain to music that was originally developed for the mare Anna Karenina, one of Konyot’s former Grand Prix mounts, but it suited Calecto well. The judges rewarded his powerful passage and piaffe tour, as well as his expressive changes.
“I thought Tina did a good job today,” said Linda Zang, who was judging from “C” this evening. “She has a very nice horse with a big future if she can settle a little bit and allow the horse to swing forward. Yesterday she had too much energy behind, so the passage was getting too high. Today it was a lot calmer.”
Konyot said she only practiced the freestyle three times with Calecto before performing it at Devon. She was more than thrilled to ride away with the blue.
“I’m happy with my horse every day,” said Konyot. “Devon would be every day for me. I love this horse so much.”
With only five Grand Prix outings under his belt, Calecto still has a lot of learning to do, but the talent he’s shown so far bodes well for the pair’s future on the international scene.
“Tomorrow is my goal,” said Konyot with a smile. “You have all sorts of plans, and you shoot for higher goals if you have something special. I think it’s a special horse, it’s just a matter of putting it together.”
Balmoral Holds On To Second; Sagacious Improves For Third
The heavy downpour that fell over the Dixon Oval just before the Grand Prix freestyle didn’t affect Balmoral’s performance in the slightest.
“He’s a mudder and really solid in his balance,” said Jacqueline Brooks with a laugh. “I once got a 10 on him at second level in a thunder storm in huge amounts of mud.”
Balmoral and Brooks performed a lovely freestyle to a unique track of music that was made especially for the 10-year-old Canadian-bred gelding. The judges rewarded them with 69.80 percent and the red ribbon for their efforts.
“I’m still fine tuning it, but it’s very suited to him,” said Brooks, Cedar Valley, Ont. “My horse is moving much differently now than when we rode it. I’ve struggled a little bit teaching him to want to perform in the ring. He just needed a little bit more time to figure out where he needed to be and now he’s doing it all by himself out there.”
Brooks is planning on campaigning Balmoral and her other Grand Prix mount, Grand Gesto, on the Florida circuit in the spring, and she hopes to compete one of them at the World Equestrian Games next fall.
Lauren Sammis and Sagacious HF made their last performance of their Billy Joel-themed freestyle a good one, scoring 69.75 percent despite some big spooks at the beginning of the test.
“He was like a foreigner going down 42nd street in New York,” Sammis, South Orange, N.J., said with a laugh.
“Everyone was in the same situation, so we judge the same for everyone,” said Linda Zang. “That’s part of the competition. You have to do it indoors, outdoors, rain or shine. The electricity, the lights, it was all a little added factor to all of the horse’s performances.”
Paganini and Cheryl Meisner received one of the loudest cheers of the day after their ride to lively techno piano music that was extremely complimentary to Paganini’s gaits. They scored 68.90 percent to finish fourth. Todd Flettrich and Otto also garnered a rambunctious salute from the crowd after their performance, which featured big band strains and “When The Saints Go Marching In,” and earned them fifth place with 68.50 percent.