Since arriving in the United States from her native Germany 25 years ago, elite dressage rider, trainer, and competitor Sabine Schut-Kery has become a household name within the sport. Known for captivating audiences with both her breathtaking exhibition performances and harmonious competitive rides, Sabine is also well-respected for her ability to produce horses from the beginning of their dressage journey all the way to the elite levels of the sport.
Most recently, Sabine represented Team USA at the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games riding Sanceo, a bay Hanoverian stallion owned by Alice Womble-Heitman and Dr. Mike Heitman of Horsegate Ranch in Texas. Sabine and Sanceo delivered three personal best performances—with scores to 84%—and played a critical role in helping to secure the team silver medal. Sabine and Sanceo were also members of the gold medal winning Pan American Games team in 2015 and have twice been awarded the Carol Lavell Advanced Level Training Grant.
Sabine met Sanceo as a barely backed 3-year-old in Germany, and methodically brought him up the levels herself. She takes a great deal of pride in developing her own horses, and currently has several talented youngsters in her barn, just beginning their dressage journey.
Sabine and her team are based year-round at Monica Garner’s The Palms Equestrian Center in San Marcos, California, where last spring, Premier Preferred Builder Olympia Footing installed the Premier Arion Ebb and Flow System, OTTO Sport Base Mats, and Premier ProTex Footing Product. We recently caught up with Sabine to learn why great footing is key to her success, and why she is proud to be a Premier Ambassador.
PREMIER: Southern California recently received unprecedented levels of rain, but you posted on social media that your horses didn’t miss a day of training.
SABINE: “We don’t have a covered arena here [at the Palms] yet, but we do have the Arion Ebb and Flow System. Despite the rain, the footing was really good—it wasn’t just that there were no puddles, it was almost normal. It gives me peace of mind, knowing my horses are performing on good footing. I love the research that they do at Premier, because they understand that my horses are athletes.”
Tell us more about why the surface you train on is so critical…
“We are a dressage training facility, and we develop horses for competitive sport—good footing is essential. If the footing is too hard, it is concussive, and if it is too deep, it can cause soft tissue injuries. You cannot perform well if you are worried that your horse is going to have an injury.
With Premier Equestrian Footing, I feel like I can bring the best out in my horse’s performance. The horse’s leg is designed to move a little bit into the footing, without it going into the footing too deeply. Premier Footing is the perfect balance of cushion, rebound, stability, and grip. I can feel in my horse the difference between regular sand and a Premier surface—their footing gives good performance.”
You have earned a well-deserved reputation for working with riders and horses of all breeds and backgrounds, and Premier Equestrian has helped thousands of everyday equestrians to have footing like the pros. We have something in common!
“It’s great that Premier works on arena surfaces for regular riders. All horses deserve good footing. Premier offers various kinds of footing depending on the work the horse is doing, and they provide an option for any budget.”
You mentioned earlier that you feel like you have a true partnership with the team at Premier Equestrian.
“When you work with a company that is both very professional but also very involved with you on a personal level, you feel like you are important to them. Premier’s customer service is outstanding—you are talking to a person, and Premier’s president, Heidi Zorn, enjoys learning about what you need, and how Premier can help. Heidi has a true passion for footing and has turned it into a craft. I take pride in working with Premier Equestrian.”
About the author
Christina Keim is a professional equestrian and writer based at Cold Moon Farm in Rochester, NH. Over the course of her career, she has worked as a barn manager, head groom, riding instructor, and collegiate equestrian team coach. In 2015, she founded Cold Moon Farm with the mission to promote sustainable living, conservation, and the highest standards of compassionate horsemanship.