By Lily Forado
Sabine Schut-Kery emerged as the undeniable star power at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Riding Sanceo, she ended up being the real anchor of the US team, who earned the silver medal in the team competition in Tokyo. She is a native of Germany and moved to the USA in 1998. Living in California, the Olympic medalist has always been related to the P.R.E horses. She describes this breed as magical, extremely intelligent, and strong.
What do you like most about the Spanish Horse? What captivated you about this breed?
I feel like the Iberian horse still has a lot of the working horse mind that ensembles clarity, good work ethic, and rideability, talent for collected work, and a good amount of confidence and trust.
PRE horses are very brave horses with lots of southern charisma and beauty. To me, they mirror the characteristics of the history and tradition of Spain and the Spanish people!
I love the mind of the PRE, the fire, and the desire for life!
I always say if I had to ride through fire or war I would do it on an Iberian horse. I also find the breed extremely intelligent and strong! And last but not least, I’m still fascinated by their beauty, looking into the eyes of a PRE is magical, I can see the horses soul !!!!
How and when did you get your first ride on a PRE?
When I was 16 years old, the person I rode for in Germany imported on a regular basis PRE’s from Spain and I went on many horse buying trips to Spain back then. Back then we performed in a lot of exhibitions all over Germany with the Iberian horses.
If you could ride a famous PRE horse right now, which would it be?
It still would be Fuego de Cardénas, I would love to feel the fire and confidence of this horse.
You have Tornado de Centurion (Rancho el Marengo) in your barn at the moment amongst your Warmbloods. How do you find transitioning your riding between the different types?
I grew up riding and training PRE’s and Iberian horses in Germany and I still always have Iberian horses in my training and teaching program. It was later in my riding career that I started riding traditional warmblood breeds for dressage.
I am a firm believer in training each horse individually regardless of the breed and background and actually love the challenge to think about the differences and how to make it work with each horse’s conformation, gaits and mind, soul, and temperament!
This is actually what I enjoy most about working with horses!
Do you find you have to ride the PREs differently?
I think the end goal is the same, to produce a supple and happy horse but I certainly go a little bit differently about it with each horse based on their temperament, confirmation and gaits .
For me, three main elements when training a PRE are:
-Acceptance of the riders leg so that I can create a horse that moves more through the body (versus a leg mover)
-A supple back that swings and has the functioning of being the bridge between hind end and front end so that the energy can flow freely through the entire body of the horse
– A good contact into my hands in relation to the neck and body confirmation of the PRE .
I also keep in mind that for example a lot of the Iberian horses (not all !!!!) still don’t have a walk that compares to the walk of our traditional warmblood that was bred for dressage. So I try to make the walk as good as possible within the horses’ ability. Another example would be the length of the neck, I want my Iberian horse to step and reach to the contact! That being said, I can’t look into the mirror and expect to have the length of a warmblood neck, because the Iberian horse is built differently, to begin with, but I will always do the best to the horses’ ability and the principles of dressage !!!
What do you think are the strengths of the Iberian horse?
-A lot of Iberian horses are quite sturdy in their health aspects!
-Of course the ability for collected work, confidence, and braveness. Also excellent character and willingness to work in a partnership. Last but not least, the absolute commitment to what is being asked of them if asked correctly and treated with fairness
How do you find the reception of the P.R.E in the International circuit?
I have been watching it for the past 30 years and there is no doubt that it is getting better but it really takes those few special ones to show the world the greatness of the breed!
Cover photo by Terry Miller/ Photos by Lily Forado