Sabine Schut-Kery and Sanceo Wows The World In Historic Olympic Performance

Tuesday, August 3, 2021
Posted by Mary Phelps



Sabine Schut-Kery and Alice Womble-Heitman & Dr. Mike Heitman's 15-year-old stallion Sanceo have secured a historic finish in Olympic History, securing the Silver Medal for the USA in Olympic Dressage for the first time since 1948.

Photo ©Shannon Brinkman Photography

Sabine began her equestrian career in Germany, performing in exhibitions on Friesian and Andalusian horses. She was also one of the creators of the German horse musical 'Zauberwald' [Magic Forest] the German version of Cavalia. It was there she met her future husband, Hungarian horseman Krisztian Kery, a "solid horseman" with a background in dressage and showjumping.

Sabine Schut-Kery with her two men Sanceo and husband Krisztian Kery ©Terri Miller
Sabine Schut-Kery with her two men Sanceo and husband Krisztian Kery ©Terri Miller

Sabine is originally from Krefeld, Germany, where she was classically trained under Jean Bemelmanns for three years. She completed her official “Bereiter” exam with the Federation Nationale in Germany. She continued to study with Jan Nivelle and Stefanie Meyer-Biss before her career in America was launched in 1998.

in 1998 she was offered a position in the United States, as head trainer for Proud Meadow Friesians. During her interview she told her future boss in the interview, she had met someone. Jim Mosebrook and Larry Rings of Proud Meadows, then offered, "Bring him along then as well as your two horses." (a Friesian and Andalusian).

That Friesian "Jorrit" was the first horse Sabine has ever owned. A stallion, he was also the first horse she ever trained to Grand Prix, and the first horse she competed and won with. Twenty years later in her first Olympics with Sanceo, Sabine's score in the Team Final, won the silver medal for the USA.

"When I bought Jorrit he was just four and it was my dream to train him for exhibitions and to compete at third level." In 2001, they won their first Grand Prix Freestyle in Wellington. For Sabine now reflecting on her US Team Silver Medal Olympic victory, she noted, "It was exactly 20 years since my first Grand Prix with Jorrit, and now Sanceo and I are Olympians."

Performances a Foundation For the Future

Jorrit Poster commemorating his first Grand Prix win
Jorrit Poster commemorating his first Grand Prix win

In Sabine's earlier years with Proud Meadow, she carried her passion for performing, inspiring, and entertaining the US Dressage world at major events such as Dressage at Devon, The FEI World Cup, and the Palm Beach Dressage Derby, Sabine left a lasting impression on all who watched her. "I really enjoy the creativity that comes with those performances," said Sabine, "There is a bond you create with each horse when teaching them how to sit, rear and bow on command or perform under side-saddle or pulling a carriage." 

Soon Sabine was showing in recognized Dressage classes along with her performances at shows. She caught the attention of not only the judges but those involved in developing America's international future. A confirmed Dressage competitor in Germany, along with her performances, Sabine knew there was an opportunity in America. In Germany, the leading country in Dressage Team medals, the team was dominated by regulars such as Isabell Werth.

When Sabine was offered the opportunity to further her career in the USA, starting with Proud Meadows, she made the move, and now the rest is Olympic history.

Sabine and Krisztian were married and became US citizens after moving to California to start their own business in 2007. Her husband became a successful stunt actor training horses for movies, known for his work  The Magnificent Seven (2016), Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), and American Sniper (2014).

Sanceo - Love at First Sight

Sabine and Sanceo

Sabine's talent, honesty, ability, and keen eye, caught the attention of Alice Womble-Heitman & Dr. Mike Heitman of Horsegate Ranch who sent her to Germany in 2009 to find a young Dressage prospect. "When I first saw Sanceo, I fell in love with his beauty and presence immediately, " Sabine recalls. "He was just under three years old and only 3 times under saddle, but I wanted to sit on him to make sure I would feel what I had seen on the longe line. Sure enough, I could feel the steady rhythm, balance, and ground covering gaits of a more mature and experienced horse."

In 2011 the stallion as a young Five-Year-Old, Sanceo (by San Remo) traveled to Chicago for the Markel/USEF National Young Horse Championships. Judge Linda Zang saw his talent in spite of some tenseness and a big spook during his test. “You are making us work here, this is a lovely horse and we know what you can do you are able to do because you are an extremely good rider and you do a great job.  He was shying but we consider these minor problems we take into consideration for the five-year-old test."

In the young horse tests, the horse and rider remain in the arena while the judges make their comments. Sabine took that time to walk the young stallion around, get him comfortable with the flowers, stands, and banners in the ring. He finished fourth that year, and in 2012 as a six-year-old represented the USA at The FEI World Young Horse Championships for Dressage in Verden, Germany.

Their career continued to flourish, representing the United States at the Pan American Games in 2015 winning a Team Gold Medal. As his Grand Prix scores continued to climb they were awarded The Carol Level Advanced Level Training Grant for the second year in a row in 2018. 

Olympic Observation Trial Seals The Deal - It's Off to Tokyo

At the US Mandatory Observation event held in early June 2021, Sabine and Sanceo earned a personal best score of 78.298%, putting them on the team with Olympic veterans Steffen Peters and Adrienne Lyle. After the trials, Sabine, Steffen, Adrienne, and alternate rider Nick Wagman traveled with their horses from Florida to Aachen, Germany,. Here Olympic horses from Europe, Canada, and America converged to prepare to ship by plane through Liege, Belgium to Tokyo.

It was a different Olympics, delayed for a year because of the COVID Pandemic, and nearly canceled again in 2021. There were newly added dynamics: No friends, family, spouses allowed unless they were a declared coach. Strict masking and quarantine mandates, with daily testing. The climate was very hot and humid, conditions US Riders were used to having their finals selection in south Florida in the summer heat.

Sanceo's Personal Best Creates Olympic Best For the USA 

American Dressage fans got used to early mornings when for the first time Olympic Live streaming was available. They were able to watch as their athletes put in a solid performance during the Grand Prix, the first test for the team results. All three riders were qualified for the individual final. Then in the Grand Prix Special, the test that would determine the team medals, Sabine Schut-Kery and Sanceo's new personal best result of 81.596 secured the Team Silver, the first in 73 years for the USA since the London Olympic Games in 1948.

With all US Team members qualified for the Olympic Final, The Grand Prix Freestyle (Kur) Adrienne Lyle opted to withdraw Betsy Juliano's Salvino. Five-Time Olympian Steffen Peters and Suppenkasper put in an entertaining "Rave Horse" performance synchronized to a high-energy club mix, which has since gone viral with a tenth overall finish.

Sabine Schut-Kery and Sanceo - Olympics 2021

Sabine's husband Krisztian Kery created the Freestyle music for his wife's 2021 Olympic debut. "The first song is from the movie The Last Samurai. I just love it because I think movie music is meant to bring certain emotion to you, so I love that style of music - it resembles Sanceo, a little bit dramatic but not too much!”

Sabine Schut-Kery USA finished fifth in the world, with another personal best score of 84.3 was now thrust into the limelight. With interviews on NBC, a welcoming celebration on her return to California, and international media shining a different kind of spotlight on the seasoned performer, Sabine is sharing her joy. "I don’t really know what to do with it all right now. "said Sabine when put in front of yet another microphone. 

The consummate horsewoman who has been with Sanceo under for 11 years, showed her focus after her grand finale in her Olympic debut. She carefully looked him over following the Freestyle after she dismounted.

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Euro Dressage Scores - Olympic Games