Ringside Chat: Schut-Kery Reflects On Her Tokyo Triumph And The Year Ahead

Jan 28, 2022 - 2:38 PM

Sabine Schut-Kery was already well-known in U.S. dressage circles before the Tokyo Olympic Games, but her performance there last summer with Alice Womble’s Sanceo thrust her solidly into the global spotlight. The pair’s longtime partnership was on display for all to see as they finished in the top 10 in all three tests, boosting the U.S. to a team silver medal.

Based in Napa Valley, California, Schut-Kery is spending the winter in Loxahatchee, Florida, at Poinciana Farm as she eyes the CDI5* at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival (Florida) in February and selection for the 2022 FEI World Dressage Championships (Denmark) later this year.

We caught up with Schut-Kery, 53, to find out how Sanceo, a 16-year-old Hanoverian stallion (San Remo—Rivera, Ramiro’s Son II), is doing after his Tokyo trip and to see what’s in store for her this season.

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Sabine Schut-Kery and Sanceo made their Olympic debut in Tokyo in 2021. Lisa Slade Photo

What’s Sanceo been up to since the Olympics?

He’s been doing really well. He was breeding all summer and enjoyed that. He’s been kept in shape doing the water treadmill and under saddle and lots of hiking in the vineyards.

Now we’re slowly ramping it up for the five-star [in Wellington in February].

The saddle fitter was just here and was pointing out that he looks amazing. I was saying, he does not feel 16. He feels like 10, and I’m sure being a stallion adds a little bit. He shows very little, and I preserve his mileage.

He loves it here in Florida. I think he likes the change of scenery, as a stallion. This is a little bit bigger barn than what we have at home. The stalls are very open here, so he can be directly touching over the wall with another horse, which is pretty cool for a stallion. I have three of my stallions, and the rest are geldings. It’s really fun to see that even with a stallion you can let him have neighbors and interact with them.

It’s cool to see how happy he is.

Has life changed since the Tokyo Olympics?

I’m a little more busy! I think people are more interested.

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Lisa Slade Photo

People were very inspired by your partnership with Sanceo.

It was close to my heart. It was obviously amazing that it all came together at an event like that, and that we got into our 80%. He is known for being consistent, but to have such peak performance three days in a row? Looking back, I wish I had an updated freestyle, but it is what it is. It’s an old freestyle, but I was really focusing on the team competition.

What was really close to my heart was the response I’ve gotten, the comments from all over the world. As a trainer, that is something so rewarding that I think we all look for, because it comes through that partnership, when people say, “Wow, it was so beautiful to watch. It was light and harmonious.”

Combining the passion of training horses and the love of horses, but then also carrying that over into a competitive sport, it was a huge compliment that personally really fits with my philosophy. That was really neat to see.

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Sabine Schut-Kery earned personal best scores during the 2021 season. Lindsay Berreth Photo

Tell me about Fuego TG, the new 7-year-old PRE stallion (Vetusto JVI—Troya RMC, Opium Del Lago) you have to ride.

He was purchased by Bridget Walker, who lessons with me sometimes. She asked me if I knew the horse, and I actually did know the horse because I know the breeder [Teresa Goode] very well and always loved the horse.

I have a very good friend in Northern Spain from childhood who’s also a dressage rider, and I sent her with Bridget, and Bridget tried the horse and really fell in love.

Bridget asked if I would train him for her. I said yes. I want a certain amount of time and commitment for the horses I take in training. We both agreed that I have him a few years and will develop him and see where that takes us. In the end, the horse is going to be for Bridget, but on the way, while I develop him, we both decided it would be fun to show him and see where that takes us. He’s coming Feb. 19.

Watch Fuego TG competing at the 2021 World Championship for Young Dressage Horses (Germany), where he scored 77.40% with Pedro Hernández Triviño:

What do you like about the PRE horses?

I love the character, the work ethic, and just the way they breed them. It’s still a very pure, working horse, so I love their straightforward mind. I have a little bit of love and fascination for their charisma as well. There’s still that little kid in me who does fall in love with their charisma.

Who else do you have in the barn?

I have a couple of young ones. I have a 6-year-old, “Hex.” His papered name is Gorgeous Latino (Glock’s Toto Jr. N.O.P.—Blackmanda, Rubiquil). He’s a super stallion. He also bred this summer. He’s owned by Sandy Mancini.

Then I have a really nice quality 4-year-old coming 5, Mr. Spielberg (Spielberg—Hello Rose, Sir Donnerhall), in partnership with the owner of Castle Rock Wine, Adriana Popovich.

I have one of my own that’s also 4-coming-5. He’s [by] For Dance, [with the damsire] Calypso named Falou.

You’ve recently become involved with a wine brand. Can you tell me about that?

I am longtime friends with Adriana Popovich. Her husband and her family have been in the wine industry for many years. Me being up in Napa for over a year now, I got a little bit introduced to and have seen some wineries and the lifestyle of a town and area that is known and produces wine.

Adriana had started a line in their Castle Rock Winery called Dressage. It’s a chardonnay and a pinot noir. We got to talk, and I met with her winemaker Meghan [Rech], and she explained to me what she’s doing and how it all works. It was super interesting, and there came a relationship naturally that maybe I can help as an ambassador for that line.

I thought it was really neat. We had a welcome party at Poinciana for all the people who winter here, and we sponsored the party with the wine. It tastes really great, and it’s a beautiful label, and it’s really fun.

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