April dressage test winner Konyot disappoints herself

American dressage rider Tina Konyot and Calecto V earned a score of 69.915 for their performance Tuesday during the team grand prix. The U.S. finished fourth.
American dressage rider Tina Konyot and Calecto V earned a score of 69.915 for their performance Tuesday during the team grand prix. The U.S. finished fourth.

Varied thoughts raced through Tina Konyot's head soon after she completed Tuesday's dressage test in the team grand prix portion of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

Her horse, Calecto V, was brilliant.

A mental error in the final moments led Konyot to say she could kick herself.

She savored the experience of competing in the main stadium of the Kentucky Horse Park, representing her team and country.

"Every day's a wonderful feeling, to be able to do what we do," she said. "How privileged we are to ride these beautiful horses. And then ..."

She paused, choking with emotion.

"It's great," she said, choking a bit harder.

"I wish my dad was here."

For it was her father, Alex, who groomed not only Tina in the sport, but countless others. Over an 80-year career, he nurtured novices through experts, including Olympic medalist Robert Dover. Alex Konyot died in 2006.

The Konyot family's ties to equine excellence precede even Alex's time.

Tina's grandfather, horseman Arthur Konyot, was discovered in Hungary. Known as The White Rider, he became a center-ring attraction in the Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Tina's grandmother Manya, a relative of prima ballerina Anna Pavlova, also performed, mixing bareback equestrian and ballet.

While Alex founded and operated an equine facility in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Tina's mother, Josephine, performed a high-wire act. She performed without a safety net, using only a plume for balance.

The Circus Ring of Fame inducted the Konyots as a family.

Tina, 48, couldn't help but think of how proud her family, especially her dad, would have been Tuesday.

Konyot and Calecto V scored 69.915 and finished 16th.

The winner of the Horse Park test event in April, Konyot said she was "kicking myself for the mistake at the end."

Calecto V stopped, seeming to think the test was over, then picked up the piaffe — a movement in which the horse trots in place.

"I think I just had a little too much confidence and didn't ride it, obviously," said Konyot, from Palm City, Fla. "It's never the horse. It's us. I love that horse so much, and he felt so good to me, and he was superb in the warmup. It was our best, best ever."

In fact, her 12-year-old Danish Warmblood stallion clearly was pumped before entering the stadium.

"He almost bucked me off outside. I had to grab the front of the saddle," Konyot said. "He's so happy, and he's so fit, and he's squealing like 'Yee! Yee! Mommy!' He walks up here like 'Oooh, this is so much fun.' And it's never with malice. ... He's not really trying to buck me off; he's just saying, 'Wow, we're here!' "

Konyot said it was "a spectacular feeling" when she came to the Horse Park in April. Now, that sense is heightened. She said she regretted not having done better for her team Tuesday.

"I wanted to do the best I possibly could, and I didn't do the best I possibly could," she said. "It was good, and I'm happy, but I wanted to do better for them. ... I know that horse has it in him."

The Konyot family, no doubt, knows Tina has "it" in her, too.