Once upon a time…. We had the opportunity to host Vera Kessels while our friend Michael was off to the selection trials for the 2016 Olympics!
Earlier this week I got a call from Michael telling me that his long-time student Allison Brock and her stallion Roosevelt (owned by Fritz and Claudine Kundrun) got on the selection trial team for the 2016 Olympic Games. That means that Michael, as her personal coach, must be in Holland by Saturday to be coaching Ali and Rosevelt through this trial. We are very excited for Michael and Ali and wish them good luck making the Olympic team!
The good news is that we are still able to host this weekend clinic and welcome Michael’s business partner, Vera! I had the privilege to observe both of them coaching and riding at their winter home in Wellington FL. They are a wonderful team and together they train the best horses to the top levels. Vera has as much knowledge and skill as Michael himself. I am very excited to have her here at QLD this weekend! –Marketa Matthews
Vera Kessels-Barisone grew up in the Netherlands, a member of a show-jumper family. She worked ten years at a large training and sales barn in Holland before coming to the United States in 1995 with her Grand Prix horse Dotato. In Florida, she served as a dressage trainer for Nan Sexton at South Gate Farm and eventually met her future husband, Michael Barisone.
Today, Vera and Michael own and operate Barisone Dressage, a thriving business that manages training facilities in both Long Valley, NJ and Wellington, FL. As partners, they train and coach numerous Grand Prix horses and riders, but their specialty lies in schooling young horses and aspiring riders through all the levels of dressage. Every year, Vera returns to Holland for the foal auctions from which she typically brings home two or three quality youngsters that will be started under her patient and expert hands.
A talented trainer, Vera is also a successful competitor. She has won many prestigious open and CDI Grand Prix competitions including the Palm Beach Dressage Derby and the renown Dressage at Devon. In 2014, Vera won the Grand Prix at Return to White Fences III, riding Jane Suwalsky’s Whitman, an 11 year old KWPN gelding, to a memorable 68.9%.
As a teacher, Vera is detail-oriented, classical in approach and optimistic in attitude. Like her husband, she believes every horse and rider deserves earnest attention and positive training. Her experience is both broad and deep, having worked with nearly every type and breed of horse over the course of 30+ years. Overall, Vera is a skilled instructor capable of communicating her knowledge and talents to her students as they strive to improve dressage fundamentals or to advance to the next level.