Alissa Kinsey of Danville, NH, and her own Grisset captured the $15,000 Vermont Celebration Child/Adult Jumper Classic on Sunday, August 11, at the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT. Kinsey and Grisset had also emerged victorious a day earlier in Saturday’s $2,500 NAL/WIHS Adult Amateur Jumper Classic.
Kinsey and Grisset, a 16-year-old Hanoverian mare, were the final challengers in the 12-horse jump-off. The times got shorter and shorter as the lead changed hands several times, but Kinsey knew exactly what she had to do when she entered the ring. The time to beat was 32.25 seconds, set by Ava Lindsay of New York, NY, and Commander Tom, winners of week two’s $2,500 Marshall and Sterling Adult Amateur Jumper Classic.
Kinsey and Grisset stepped up the challenge, stopping the timers an astonishing full two seconds faster, in 30.02, for the win. The pair’s victory marked their third in the final event of the Vermont Summer Festival, as they also won the $15,000 Vermont Celebration Child Adult Jumper Classic in 2010 and 2012. Despite having been there, done that, Kinsey was just as thrilled with win number three, if not more so, thanks to the high caliber competition.
“It’s hard to keep topping a big win like this, but this was the most competitive group in the jump-off that I have seen yet,” said Kinsey. “Everybody was just faster than the next. I’ve never seen riders go so well. It was tough! I didn’t think I had it until I looked up (at the timers). It was that close!”
Grisset was uncharacteristically fired up in the first round, leaving Kinsey concerned about whether they could keep the rails up.
“The first round was a tough course, but for the class it was great,” Kinsey said of the track designed by Eric Hasbrouck. “I don’t know what her deal was. She was maybe overexcited or happy or wanting to prove herself to me, but she was wild! Our time was really fast for the first round and I wasn’t looking to do that. I was worried we’d have a rail, but she was being so careful that we got lucky.”
The pair reorganized for their second appearance and, despite a jump-off track headed predominately in the mare’s weaker direction, Kinsey and Grisset pulled out the win.
“The jump-off wasn’t really her type,” remarked Kinsey. “It had a lot of right turns and that’s her weakness. It doesn’t really suit her. But then the only really hard slice was off the left lead, which is her good lead. That was really her strength towards the end.”
Sunday’s win was especially meaningful to Kinsey after she and Grisset had an accident several weeks ago that left them out of sorts. Kinsey was injured and didn’t think she would be back in the saddle for the rest of summer, but had a remarkably quick recovery. Although she was back in action, her beloved mare was struggling.
“I finally figured out that it wasn’t anything physically or mentally wrong with her; it was her shoes,” explained Kinsey. “So, she got new shoes before the horse show (this week) and this was the result! That’s knowing her. I knew there was no reason for her not to be good. She loves her job and I finally realized that was the only thing that could be wrong.”
A new set of shoes and a strong bond spanning seven years landed Kinsey and Grisset yet another big win.
“She’s been a super horse, she’s a horse of a lifetime for me,” praised Kinsey, who imported Grisset from Europe. “She’s lived in my backyard from day one. She practically lives on the couch with me! I do all of her care and it’s always been that way. We can read each other’s minds.”
She continued, “I think we’re two tough cookies! We go together. We’re both really strong-willed and when we both want do something, we do. She wanted to show me that she was finally back and I really wanted to win it, so it happened!”
Kinsey and Grisset’s victory wrapped up six weeks of competition at the 2013 Vermont Summer Festival at Harold Beebe Farm in the show’s 20th anniversary year. The Vermont Summer Festival will return in 2014 from July 1 through August 10, once again offering more than $750,000 in total prize money, making it the richest sporting event based on purse in the state of Vermont.
The Vermont Summer Festival is a proud member event of the Show Jumping Hall Of Fame, the Marshall & Sterling League, and the North American League (NAL). Please e-mail us or visit our website for more information about the Vermont Summer Festival.