Former Olympic dressage athlete denounces his former trainer during his trial

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A dressage rider sobbed as she told a court how her ex-coach – a former Olympian – shot her in a row over rent.

Athlete Lauren Kanarek, 41, was overcome with emotion as she recounted how Michael Barisone, 57, shot her at the farm he owned in Morris County, New Jersey, in August 2019.

“It was almost unreal to me that I got shot,” Kanarek said during Wednesday’s hearing in Barisone’s attempted murder trial. He denies the charge. Kanarek was filmed struggling to speak and calm down as a recording of the chaotic incident was played in court.

She claims she was on the phone with a lawyer when Barisone “pulled out a gun, pointed it at her and her fiancé Rob Goodwin, and ‘boom, boom, just like that,’ he shot her, according to Law & Crime.

She alleges she was taken down, but Barisone’s goal narrowly missed Goodwin and shared a photo of what she said were gunshot wounds on Instagram.

At the time of the shooting, Kanarek was a tenant at Barisone’s farm in Morris County, New Jersey, where she says Barisone and his girlfriend Mary Haskins Gray were bullies to her. But the couple allege Kanarek had fallen behind on rent.

Lauren Kanarek made an emotional appearance in court on Wednesday

Kanarek shared a photo on Instagram which she said was the gunshot wound inflicted by Barisone

Kanarek shared a photo on Instagram which she said was the gunshot wound inflicted by Barisone

Kanarek accused former Olympic equestrian Michael Barisone, pictured in court on Wednesday, of trying to shoot him following a rent dispute

Kanarek accused former Olympic equestrian Michael Barisone, pictured in court on Wednesday, of trying to shoot him following a rent dispute

Barisone's girlfriend Mary Haskins Gray, pictured on Wednesday, testified in support of her accused boyfriend

Barisone’s girlfriend Mary Haskins Gray, pictured on Wednesday, testified in support of her accused boyfriend

To this end, she filed a complaint with SafeSport-an anti-abuse Olympic and Paralympic organization.

Gray, however, says Kanarek threatened her and Barisone on social media.

“We were terrified of what he was building and what was to come next,” she said. ‘[Barisone] was absolutely petrified and terrified.

Dr Ruth Cox, who gave Barisone the gun, said her fiance also engaged in the behavior, threatening her and Barisone.

The judge, however, said only Barisone’s state of mind was relevant to the case.

Dr. Cox could not recall the exact nature of the threats.

“I can’t remember the specific words, but it was around — He wasn’t going to let Michael figure out what was going on with him and his girlfriend’s horses,” she said.

Kanarek admits she’s written ‘unflattering’ things online about the pair, but stops short of calling them ‘threats’.

She added that Barisone’s temper was unpredictable.

He could be “hilarious, funny, charming and kind”. she says.

Barisone, seen here in 2014, rides Ellegria in the FEI Grand Prix Special at the United States Dressage Festival of Champions in Gladstone, New Jersey.

Barisone, seen here in 2014, rides Ellegria in the FEI Grand Prix Special at the United States Dressage Festival of Champions in Gladstone, New Jersey.

“On other days, Barisone seemed angry and even shouted at a member of staff. At that time, you better keep your distance.

NJ.com reported in 2019 that there were frequent arguments between the two and that the police were called to the farm several times.

“They cause problems, they sow shit. They are here at our private equestrian center, and these people need to be notified,” Barisone growled to 911 dispatchers on July 31. “It’s a war and it will be settled immediately. I’ve had enough of these people. I need them to go.

Barisone participated in the 2008 Olympic equestrian team which competed in Beijing. He also coached a rider who won a bronze medal at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Kanarek is a U.S. Dressage Federation and U.S. Equestrian Federation Olympic bronze medalist, according to her Twitter account. She references the incident in her bio with a hashtag #GunViolenceSURVIVOR and calls herself a political activist.

The trial continues.


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