U.S. Dressage Olympian Sabine Schut-Kery Finds Many Opportunities In Wellington

U.S. Dressage Olympian Sabine Schut-Kery Finds Many Opportunities In Wellington

By Jennifer Wood

There is nothing simple about making a 3,000-mile trek from Napa, California, to Wellington, Florida, every winter with horses, but for Tokyo Olympic Games team silver medalist Sabine Schut-Kery, it’s a trip she does gladly for the opportunity it affords her to progress in the international sport of dressage.

Sabine is one of the world’s best dressage athletes, and she has regularly attended competitions during South Florida’s winter season, from its early beginnings at the White Fences Equestrian Center in Loxahatchee, to recent years at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF).

Sabine, who is 53 years old, first came to Wellington in 2000, two years after she made the move from her home country of Germany to Proud Meadows in Texas. She brought with her two Friesian stallions, Tinus PM and Jorrit PM, and a career of not only classical dressage, but training and performances in a traveling horse theater in Germany, similar to the Cavalia show in the United States. She continued these special exhibitions in the U.S., including shows at Madison Square Garden in New York City, but despite having traveled the world, she was still awed by the equestrian scene in Wellington.

“I was blown away,” Sabine recalled. “I had never seen anything like Wellington. It was quite special. It does get better and better. I think the community is growing so much more and improving.”

When asked about her favorite memory of Wellington, a big smile lit up her face as she recounted when she brought Jorrit PM, the Friesian stallion that was the first horse she owned, to compete in the Grand Prix Freestyle when dressage was held at the Winter Equestrian Festival show grounds in 2001. At the same event, she also won the Prix St. Georges with Tinus PM.

“It’s just a neat story for myself, personally, because I bought him when he was just a green three-year-old back then in Germany, I was competing at Second Level,” she recalled. “I bought him, and I remember my dream was, ‘Oh my God, if I could ever ride Third Level.’ And here I am winning the Grand Prix Freestyle in Wellington with a Friesian against the warmbloods!”

While Sabine did not come every winter since 2000, she made a point to make the trip when she could to advance her competition career. When her top horse and Olympic partner Sanceo was ready for international competition in 2014, she decided to attend AGDF each winter to give him the experience and exposure that the circuit brings.

“The concentration of the opportunity to compete, that is why I come. I don’t think that’s the case anywhere else in the world,” she explained. “You have the opportunity and the option of showing on an almost weekly basis for all the horses you’re bringing: your students, clients, young horses and your top horses. The atmosphere is one of the biggest in the country, as well. It’s so concentrated and a bigger stage. It’s so competitive, so I think you can measure up and be your best against the best in the country. That is always very encouraging, that you stay on the top of your own game. It’s also inspiring to see other amazing horse-and-rider combinations. It’s all-around really wonderful and positive.”

Unlike many riders in Florida, Sabine doesn’t come for the pleasant weather — “It’s actually better at home!” — but she finds that she can take advantage of the competition and help train others while she is in Wellington for the three-month stay.

Watching others and learning is something Sabine has always considered important in her quest to always be a better horsewoman than the day before.

“I really learned a lot here from the availability of having top-notch farriers and veterinarians, just horsemen and horsewomen in general,” she said. “Seeing colleagues, riders I look up to, I get inspired and get ideas. You learn a lot from watching other riders compete, or training even. Here it’s easy to go watch someone work with their horses.”

Yet it isn’t all horses, all the time, for Sabine. She has made an effort to check out more of the area and takes an occasional “Sabine Day” to the Four Seasons Resort for the spa, pool, restaurant and walks on the beach. She has also started to explore Miami. “I’m very interested in learning about different cultures and seeing different cities,” she said. “My dream was always to go around the world with a backpack. But with horses, maybe this occurred; it’s my little version of that.”

Sabine has a strong string of mounts that she is working with this winter, including Alice Womble’s 16-year-old Hanoverian stallion Sanceo, with whom she won the team silver medal in Tokyo last summer and took the team gold medal at the 2015 Pan American Games. Sanceo has competed in 18 classes at AGDF since 2015 and won 11 of them. In 2018, they helped the U.S. team take the silver medal at the Stillpoint Farm FEI Nations Cup CDIO3* at AGDF, and Sabine and Sanceo took home the individual silver medal as well.

She is also excited about four other young horses that she has in Wellington this winter, including six-year-old stallions Gorgeous Latino, owned by Sandy Mancini, and the Andalusian Fuego TG, owned by Bridget Walker, who made the trip from Spain. Her personal horse Falou is five years old, as is a “very, very exciting” gelding Mr. Spielberg, a horse owned in partnership with her friend Adriana Popovich of Castle Rock Wines in Napa.

Sabine and Adriana recently announced a new line of wines called “Dressage” that includes a Pinot Noir and a Chardonnay, which is Sabine’s personal favorite. Both wines are carried in Wellington, as well.

Sabine is competing once again with Sanceo in the main international arena at AGDF in 2022 with the goal to make the U.S. Short List to compete in Europe this summer and represent the American team at the World Championships in Herning, Denmark, in August.

Bringing along young horses is close to Sabine’s heart — she found Sanceo as a three-year-old and has cultivated that winning partnership over the past 13 years — and she will aim to move her young horses through the pathway of young horse, developing horse and high-performance programs.

“I’m always pushing myself to be a better rider and mentor for my horses and my students,” she said. “I want to develop the horses into beautiful athletes that will showcase classical dressage on a competitive platform.”

To learn more about Sabine Schut-Kery, visit www.sabineschutkery.com. Visit www.globaldressagefestival.com to find out more about the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, including the schedule, riders and horses competing this season.