Allison Brock Making the Journey With Rosevelt to the Olympic Games

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Allison Brock and Rosevelt after another successful consistent performance in Europe to be selected for the United States Olympic team. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Allison Brock and Rosevelt after another successful consistent performance in Europe to be selected for the United States Olympic team. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

July 7, 2016

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

When Allison Brock was caring for Flim Flam ridden by Sue Blinks at the World Games two years after team bronze at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 she never thought that one day she would be riding for the United States at the pinnacle of the sport. The journey of getting to represent her country at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro was more important than the end result.

Now she has been selected with Rosevelt to go to Rio de Janeiro on the team with Steffen Peters and Legolas, Laura Graves and Verdades and Kasey Perry-Glass with Dublet, she is as thrilled for the owners of the 14-year-old Hanoverian stallion as for herself. Fritz Kundrun and his wife, Claudine own Rosevelt as he did Flim Flam that was on the team at Sydney and earned team silver at the 2002 World Games.

“Everybody dreams of going to the Olympics, for sure,” Allison, 36 years old, told dressage-news.com. “But I didn’t start on this journey because the end goal was to get to the Olympics. The Olympics are a by-product of having the right horse at the right time; it can’t be just the end goal.

“We hope we’re not one-horse wonders. We love the journey. You’re lucky if you’re riding at the right time and the horse arrives in your life at the right time.”

Rosevelt arrived at the right time in the life of Ali.

Growing up in Hawaii, she was as horse crazy as so many other kids–dressage, jumping, Western, Pony Club from an early age. At 17 she left the island state to work as a groom for a succession of dressage trainers until she ended up with Sue Blinks. Among the horses she took care of was Flim Flam that had already been competed at the World Games in Rome in 1998 then the Sydney Olympics.

Claudine and Fritz Kundrun with Allison Brock. © dressage-news.com
Claudine and Fritz Kundrun with Allison Brock. © dressage-news.com

Ali shared the experience of Sue and Flim Flam seeking to go to their second World Games, this time in Spain in 2002. First to qualify for the Festival of Champions where success sent them to Europe for two months to work with then American coach Klaus Balkenhol and the rest of the team of Debbie McDonald on Brentina, Lisa Wilcox on Relevant and Günter Seidel on Nikolaus. They captured team silver.

After Flim Flam was retired and Sue moved to California, Ali became the rider of the horses owned by the Kundruns, who back up their enthusiastic support of American dressage with substantial financial contributions even beyond the horses they buy for their rider to compete.

Ali went with Rosevelt to England for 18 months to work with Kyra Kyrklund, one of the top competitors and trainers in the world and current coach of the Swedish team, and Richard White.

In August, 2013 Ali took Rosevelt into the CDI Grand Prix arena for the first time. She had been working with Michael Barisone of Long Valley, New Jersey, traveling reserve with the American team of only three combinations instead of the usual four at the 2008 Olympics and a top rider for at least two decades.

The training partnership worked. Ali and Michael planned things out “pretty carefully,” she said, “something he learned from George Morris; a lot has trickled down from that.”

Michael Barisone cheering Allison Brock and Rosevelt in Wellington, Florida. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage/news.com
Michael Barisone cheering Allison Brock and Rosevelt in Wellington, Florida. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage/news.com

Two years after starting Big Tour, the duo logged nine first and second places and the pair were chosen to be among the group of American Big and Small Tour combinations to go to Europe in preparation for the Pan American Games. Ali and Rosevelt were reserves for the team that took the critical step to win Pan Am gold and thus give the United States the single slot available for a team start at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

At last winter’s Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida Ali and Rosevelt produced more of the results that were becoming trademark consistent to earn the pair a berth on their second long listed squad for Europe, this time to lead to selection of the Olympic team.

After selection competitions in France and the Netherlands, Ali and Rosevelt were named to the team.

Michael Barisone was not surprised.

“”Ali is the most diligent and detailed horse person I have ever known,” he told dressage-news.com, “and the very best student… a model of how to accept correction and criticism.

“That’s why she is an Olympian.”

Allison Brock and Rosevelt at a European event to select the USA Olympic team. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Allison Brock and Rosevelt at a European event to select the USA Olympic team. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Ali comes over as cool and collected but admits she has a sports psychologist to help her with the “mental game.”

And she laughs that the passion riders pursue working with horses is because they are “wired a certain way and learn how to deal with it.”

The tours she has been to Europe for the past two years, she said, have been “great because we are so supportive of each other.

“Nobody’s perfect every day, the horses are not perfect every day. It’s great to have friends you can rely on. Everybody has supported one another and helped push each other up. Everybody on this tour honestly wanted the best horses and riders to be Team USA, to be the best.”

The length of time away from home–more than four months–is longer than any previous Olympics or championships for the American teams.

Ali bought a five-year-old earlier in the year that she kept in Europe and now focuses on along with Rosevelt –“having just two horses will eat your whole day up.”