Michael Barisone is a former U.S. Olympian in dressage who has been charged with attempted murder after allegedly shooting a woman twice in the chest at his equestrian facility in New Jersey, according to multiple New Jersey media outlets. According to NJ Media, Barisone has been charged with two counts of attempted murder, and two weapon offenses as well.
Several equestrian websites have identified the woman to be Lauren Kanarek, a competitive dressage rider. A family friend of the Kanareks shared this information on Facebook as well, writing, “To keep the rumors down, Lauren was shot earlier today. She is out of surgery, but not out of the woods yet. Your thoughts and prayers are greatly appreciated.”
Barisone competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympic games as a horseback rider in the dressage category (his team did not medal). He is now a well-known trainer for other elite horseback riders, and trains out of his own facilities in New Jersey and Florida.
In the weeks leading up to her being shot, Kanarek posted several messages to her Facebook, referencing her “trainer” and claiming to be “bullied by a 6’3′ man.”
Here’s what you need to know about Barisone:
1. Barisone & One Other Person Were Also Injured From the Event, Authorities Say
In addition to the woman who was shot, authorities confirmed that two other people were injured upon arriving to the scene, one of whom authorities identified as “the suspect” (since confirmed to be Barisone), and another who has not been identified.
Police say Kanarek was shot at around two in the afternoon on the property of the Equestrian center, which is located in Morris County, New Jersey. She was then transported to Morristown Medical Center, a law enforcement confirmed to NJ Media.
Though she was initially believed to be in grave condition, several friends of Kanarek’s have stated that she is now in stable condition.
2. Barisone’s Training Business Is a ‘Full Service, World Class’ Business, According to the Site
According to the official site for Barisone Dressage, the business is a “full service, world class dressage training, boarding, and coaching business with farms in New Jersey and Florida.”
The business is sponsored by Nutrena, Topline Balance, and Custom Saddlery.
Barisone appears to be one of three trainers for Barisone Dressage; the two others listed on the site are Mary-Haskins Gray and Justin Hardin. Barisone’s bio reads, “Michael grew up riding horses in upstate New York and has been based in the horse country of New Jersey for over 20 years…Michael consistently produces upper-level dressage horses from young stock, selling many of them and keeping some to develop himself.”
3. Barisone Has a Lengthy Resume to His Own Equestrian Career
According to his official bio, Barisone has a long list of achievements in addition to being a member of the 2008 Olympic dressage team. He also was a member of the 1997 Nations Cup team who won the gold medal at Hickstead, and through his training has garnered over 100 CDI Grand Prix wins on nine different horses that he “produced himself.”
Barisone was the 2009 Sportsman International Horseman of the Year. He has also coached younger Olympians, like Alison Brock, who helped the US win Bronze in 2016 at the Rio Olympics.
Barisone also appears to have been married in the past. Vera Kessels-Barisone is named as a “former partner” of Barisone Dressage; it’s unclear if she’s still married to Barisone. Like him, she often teaches clinics for horseback riders of all levels; the video above was taken from one of her clinics.
Vera is Dutch born, and competed professionally with dressage and jumpers in the eighties and nineties. Her bio from New England Dressage Association reads in part,
Since 1995 and her arrival in the US she has put all her energy into the dressage world and has had huge success ever since. As a former partner at Barisone Dressage, she specialize d in bringing young horses up through the levels and has produced numerous Grand Prix horses and riders ; including those that have competed in the Olympics, World Cups and Pan Am games. Vera teaches at home in Ct during the summer and in Fla during the winter… Vera teaches with a detail oriented, upbeat and classical approach. She believes every horse and rider deserves the best, most positive training they can get, no matter what size, shape, level or breed they are.
4. Barisone Often Teaches at Clinics & Is Known For Being Charismatic
According to an interview Barisone gave to Event Clinics, he’s known for his wit and his charisma. He frequently gives clinics to riders of all skill level, and explained that he likes it that way.
He said, “It doesn’t matter if you have a green youngster who keeps ignoring your direction under saddle or you’re working on polishing up the two-tempi changes before the regional finals. You’ve got to be interested in learning the building blocks of riding to move forward at this sport. The key to success is total mastery of basic concepts.”
He added, “At the end of the day, if someone has a problem and I can help them get past it and succeed, that makes me happy.”
5. READ: Kanarek’s Friend Alleges Abuse and Harassment by Barisone to Kanarek
Kanarek posted several cryptic messages to Facebook in the weeks leading up to her being shot. One such status, posted on August 2, reads, “I’m being bulled by a 6’3 man. Bullied to the point I’m afraid. It’s very complicated — I’m not sure of what I can say here — but it seems as if Safe Sport was created for exactly this reason.”
Several publications have also reported that Kanarek either filed or planned to file a SafeSport report against Barisone; SafeSport collects reports of assault and misconduct among Olympic sports.
Kanarek’s friend, Paige Ervin, wrote a lengthy Facebook status alleging a number of troubling behaviors that Barisone exhibited towards Kanarek. She wrote in part, “Michael has made death threats to Lauren and her family and warned her to sleep with one eye open.”
Ervin continued, “Michael also broke Lauren’s fiancé’s wrist when he attempted to wrestle the gun out of Michael’s hands.”
Kanarek’s fiance has not yet spoken out publicly about the incident.