Perspective and Insights with Sabine Schut Kery

Saturday, July 23, 2022
Posted by Mary Phelps with Brandon Seger



Sabine Schut Kery "was not born with the dream of wanting to go to the Olympics", until Sanceo came into her life. Her journey to America took a more non traditional path.

Cover photo: Sabine Schut Kery and Sanceo at the 2015 Pan American Games ©Diana DeRosa

Sabine Schut-Kery and Sanceo - Olympics 2021
Sabine Schut Kery and Sanceo - Olympics 2021 ©US Equestrian - Taylor Pence

A performer in a German equine entertainment company similar to Cavalo began her path to America. Sabine was discovered and hired by a Friesian breeder in the USA. She began her career developing and performing what are still unforgettable performances at Dressage at Devon, and other venues. 

Then came her partnership with Alice Womble and Dr. Mike Heitmann and the young stallion Sanceo. The only Olympic horse to date who went through the American program for young horse, developing horse and elite, Sabine and Sanceo were the pioneers in US Dressage history.

Here Sabine shares some of her impressions, memories, and insights. Markel's Brandon Seger recently caught up with Sabine to ask her some key questions.

What advice would you give someone looking to purchase a young horse?

I would encourage the buyer to trust the feeling that a horse gives you under saddle. In other words, how is the rideability of the horse? What kind of temperament does the horse have, both on the ground and under saddle? How easy is the horse to ride and how sensitive is the horse without being too sensitive? Although the horse should have three good gaits, try to stay away from a horse with a huge walk which can easily become lateral once the rider picks up the reins. Good conformation is another consideration. Is the neck set correctly? Also, does the horse have good, big hooves with good angles? Be sure to ask a lot of questions, and of course, conduct a thorough pre-purchase exam!

Do you feel that a focus on young horse development has helped build your business?

Yes, it has been good for me because I really enjoy training horses from a young age. Riding young horses contributes to good horsemanship, and it is a great opportunity to gain experience. For me, producing a Grand Prix horse ideally starts by training a youngster. I can then correctly instill the basics in the horse’s education and ensure that the horse has the proper foundation to become a confident, supple, and strong partner!

How did it feel going down centerline for your first Olympic ride?

Sabine Schut-Kery and Sanceo - Olympics 2021
Sabine Schut-Kery and Sanceo know they did it, nailing the best US Score to help win US Team Silver Olympics 2021 ©Astrid Appels - eurodressage

Well, I was not born with the dream of wanting to go the Olympics. Not that I wouldn’t want to, it just didn’t cross my mind until Sanceo. Then, once the Olympics became a possibility for us, everything was postponed for a year because of covid. With that postponement, came the fear that it would be cancelled again.

When the time came to actually ride down centerline in Tokyo, I was thinking, “We are doing it! It’s real! I am riding in the Olympics!”. On day two, all I was thinking was, “Don’t mess up!”. This is for our team, for everyone who worked so hard for so many years, so no mistakes! Don’t ride off course and just ride like in the Grand Prix!

I was so proud of Sanceo for his unbelievable commitment to me, his brilliance, his beauty, and the strength he showed us all! It was so very special, and it always will be very special. Nothing can ever take that away from me, which makes me so happy. I am so incredibly grateful to Sanceo’s owners, Alice Womble and Dr. Mike Heitmann, who always had this vision and love for Sanceo and me!

Did going through the young/developing horse program help guide your progress with Sanceo?

Absolutely! I am a perfectionist to a fault, so this program was a good fit. It helped me to be thorough with my training. I always look at the big picture when developing a horse through the levels, so instead of training a horse for a certain test or level for the sake of competition, I study the reasoning behind each test.

I think Sanceo is quite unique in that he went through all the US programs with flying colors (young horse, developing and elite) and maybe is a poster horse for the success of our programs. Though I will say I aimed high at each level, I never pushed for it. I also had the right partner in Sanceo and a bit of luck that it all came together at the right time on so many occasions. 

I might be mistaken but to this day I don’t recall another horse that has done this. He was the CDS Futurity Champion as a 4-year-old, he qualified for World breeding championships as a 5 and 6y old and we went to Verden as a 6 y old in 2012. Then he won the Markel/USEF National championships in Chicago in the developing PSG. The next year he brought home team gold as one of the small tour horses at the 2015 Pan American Games and from there started his Grand Prix career with the highlight being the Tokyo Olympics.

He literally delivered and shined through every step of his development from a just saddle broke 3y old all the way to the Olympics scoring over 80% 
That right here is to me magical and unbelievable!

What is next for you?

My goal is to keep developing young prospects and horses into happy, strong, and balanced athletes that will be competitive at any level. I would also love to produce an athlete that has the potential to be a Team horse representing the USA in international competition.

Visit Sabine Schut Kery on her beautiful website for more of her magic.