November 2015 - Meet Sabine Schut-Kery

Pan Am gold medalist set for Nov. 14-15 clinic at W Farms.

Sabine Schut-Kery hasn’t had much time for clinics this past year. She’s a stickler about prioritizing her focus and time and she knew that the quest to represent the United States Equestrian Team at the Pan American Games this past summer was job-one.

That paid off rather well. Sabine and Alice Womble’s Hanoverian stallion Sanceo not only earned a spot on the team, they were huge in helping the U.S. to the critical gold medal that secured our spot in the 2016 Olympics.

photo © Terri Miller

Sanceo has had a little break and will soon be gearing up for Grand Prix competition. Sabine now has a little more time to coach students beyond the eight-horse program she maintains at El Campeon Farms in Hidden Valley and the small client base she visits regularly.

Presented by the California Dressage Society and, Sabine’s Nov. 14-15 clinic at W Farms in Chino Hills will be a great chance for new and old fans to enjoy and benefit from Sabine’s unique approach.

Sabine earned her three-year “Bereiter” at Jan Bemelmann’s yard in her native Germany. In addition to classical and competitive dressage, she has trained several horses to high-level exhibition work. This includes sidesaddle; tandem riding; the silver coachmen’s badge, which requires driving a four in hand; haute ecole movements and even a few “tricks,” all with the base of proper dressage training.

She and her husband moved to the States in 1998 to train Friesians for Proud Meadows Farm in Texas. Sabine significantly helped introduce and promote the Dutch breed in the U.S. and within the dressage community during that time and she continues to embrace horses of all breeds.

Caroline Hoffmann says riding with and watching Sabine in action is a terrific experience. Based in Agoura Hills, Caroline is a trainer herself and has been working regularly with Sabine for 10 years.

Caroline describes her as “one of the best trainers and coaches of all time” and feels that the wide recognition she’s received through the Pan Am success is overdue. Not that Sabine would care about that. “She’s the most humble person, very easy to talk to,” Caroline says. “She is easy to connect with.”

Several points stand out to Caroline about working with Sabine. First, she takes an individualized approach. “She always takes into consideration where the horse or rider are coming from. If there’s been a difficulty in a certain area, she’s not going to pressure and push past it.”

Which is not to say she lets anything slide. “She expects a lot of horse and rider, but within the realm of what they can do.” She’s also detail oriented to great effect. “She sees and focuses on those little details that make a huge difference.”

The nature of Sabine’s teaching “brings out the relaxation you need to reach your highest potential, and she is very open to listening to the rider’s feedback.”

Finally, the idea that dressage should incorporate and reflect passion and enjoyment, for the horse and the rider, are tenets of Sabine’s teaching.

California Riding Magazine editor, Kim F. Miller, enjoyed a quick update with Sabine.  

Kim: Thank you for helping the U.S. qualify for the Olympics with your great rides at the Pan Am Games. Can you tell us a little about the Pan Am experience?
Sabine: They went too fast!
It was amazing on every level—starting with the supportive people at every level! Robert Dover and Debbie McDonald have been amazing in coaching and preparing us. You never feel as if you are alone and that gives the rider so much confidence and makes it enjoyable. My teammates (Steffen Peters, Laura Graves and Kimberly Herslow) were the best I could ask for.

Kim: It all started with a European tour. How was that?
Sabine: It was also amazing. We learned so much about the preparation and management required to compete at that level. The USET’s philosophy in sending us to Europe was letting us really taste what it’s like. It’s just a different level of competition and management.
The opportunity to spend my time on only one horse was also amazing. To focus so much on something allows you to do so with without stress. There is competition pressure, of course, but you have a chance to find a way to channel that into something positive -- something that actually fires you up.

Kim: Are there some specific training concepts that were reinforced during your Europe trip that may be reflected in your coaching at the clinic?
Sabine: For sure. Here are just a few:
1. Expression comes from throughness and collection.
2. The horse has to continue to carry while pushing and continue pushing while he carries
3. The pirouette is a shoulder-in around the haunches.

Kim: I was surprised to learn that you limit your everyday clientele to eight horses at El Campeon Farms. Why is that?
Sabine: For the same reason that I didn’t do open clinics while preparing to qualify for the Pan Am Games: I like to focus on fewer things so I can do the best job on what I do focus on. And it’s really important to me that I have the time to enjoy working with each horse and rider.
My clientele is very diverse. I have one woman who is super passionate about correct riding. She is perfectly capable of competing, but doesn’t care to. I have horses where my job is to keep them tuned up for their riders and sponsored horses that I ride exclusively. I really like having that variety in my business.

Kim: Your exhibition performances were so lovely. Will you be able to get back to that anytime soon?
Sabine: I miss that a lot! I was just looking at a picture of when I did a little freestyle exhibition at the World Cup Finals in Las Vegas. Seeing the way I was smiling, it reminded me how much I missed that and want to get back to it.
One issue is having the right horse for it and the time to devote to training, which includes both formal dressage and the exhibition training. Not many horses are well suited for it, but it’s one of my goals to get back to that.

Kim: And what is the plan for Sanceo?
Sabine: Training him up to Grand Prix is the goal. I don’t know how fast that will go. He has a very nice piaffe, passage and we have done a couple of one-tempi changes, but that’s far away from the ability to do the whole test. He had some deserved time off after Toronto and has done some breeding and is just coming back to work this month.

Kim: Thank you, Sabine! All the best to you!
Sabine: Thank you!!

Riding spots for Sabine’s Nov. 14-15 clinic are likely full, but auditors are welcome. Auditing is free of charge, but an RSVP by Nov. 10 is required. RSVP to Nicole Bhathal at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Presented by the California Dressage Society and, Sabine’s Nov. 14-15 clinic at W Farms in Chino Hills will be a great chance for new and old fans to enjoy and benefit from Sabine’s unique approach.