The Olympic Games never disappoint. And Tokyo was no exception, especially as the world had to wait until 2021 for their 2020 Summer Games. This brought its own challenges for every athlete, as Olympic hopefuls trained and set their sights to peak at the perfect time to perform their best on the world’s stage. Then for equestrian sports, add in an equine athlete on top of that. Riders and horses that had been training and competing to qualify for a coveted spot on Team USA, had hopes postposed, rearranged or dashed due to the delay. On the other hand, the extension may have allowed a potential horse to recover from an injury or gain a little maturity or experience to step up to the championship level. It doubtlessly added to the excitement—albeit uncertainty—surrounding these unprecedented Games.
The best thing about the Olympics may be that regardless of whether you follow equestrian sport religiously or if you have never heard of dressage, eventing or show jumping in your life—at the end of the day we’re Americans. And Americans show up for America. For Olympic viewers unfamiliar with the “horse sports,” watching equestrian on mainstream NBC does wonders for the popularity of the sport. It sparks conversation, interest and enthusiasm for a culture that tends to fly under its sometimes unapproachable radar. Rapper Snoop Dogg’s memorable commentary—“This horse is off the chain. That intro walk was cold. I got to get this one in a video!”—and the TikTok insta-fame for Steffen Peters’ Suppenkasper aka the “rave horse” that took social media by storm with their electronic freestyle music made equestrian sport accessible and in front of many people that may have skipped over it otherwise. These types of fun and entertaining vignettes create new fans outside of the equestrian realm.
The Olympics—watching our country’s best go head-to-head with the finest the world has to offer—provides a common cause that everyone can belong to. Rooting for your home team athletes and cheering them on from the other side of the world, and often at all times of the day and night, is what it’s all about for the millions of viewers, fans and Olympic enthusiasts stateside. It is a few weeks full of unabashed country pride, something uniting in uncertain times where “masking up” and “staying 6 feet apart” have become the new normal. When the world seemed to have fallen apart, Team USA brought us together to cheer for something we all love dearly—our America.
Congratulations to our Team USA Platinum Athletes on Your Success in Tokyo!
Sabine has been partnered for the past 12 years with Sanceo (San Remo—Rivera, Ramiro’s Son II), the stunning 2006 Hanoverian stallion owned by Alice Womble. Sabine has brought Sanceo up the dressage ranks from the start of his career through the highest levels of the sport calling the stallion “intellectual,” a “quick study” and spending years building their special bond. They were selected to the United States Dressage team for the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada, bringing home a team gold medal and sweeping the podium in the Grand Prix Freestyle. In 2018, Sabine and Sanceo were members of the winning FEI Nations Cup USA team at the CDIO 3* in Wellington, Florida. From 2019 to present, Sabine and Sanceo have been mainstays of the U.S. Equestrian Federation’s Dressage Elite Program, which aims to identify and support athletes who have the potential to represent the U.S. in international competition. Having a spectacular USA Olympic Observation Event in Wellington, FL, Sabine rode Sanceo to a 78.978% in the Grand Prix and a 78.298% in the Grand Prix Special securing her a spot on the 2020 U.S. Olympic Dressage team.
In Tokyo, Sabine Schut-Kery delivered consecutive, foot perfect performances. In her Olympic debut, she scored a 78.416% in the FEI Grand Prix test, continuing to turn out personal best scores and helping to qualify the U.S. for the Team Dressage Finals. For the Finals, Sabine, alongside teammates Steffen Peters and Adrienne Lyle, understood that one mistake from any of the three riders would put them out of medal contention. Proving to be perfectly comfortable in unthinkably high-pressure situations, Sabine scored an 81.596% in the Grand Prix Special—another personal best and breaking into the elusive 80% ranks. Sabine and Sanceo were the top scoring U.S. combination and anchored the 2020 U.S. Dressage Olympic team to clinch the silver medal. The final team medal results ended with Germany winning gold, United States silver and Great Britain with bronze. This was the best finish for the U.S. Dressage team since the 1948 London Games—73 years prior—and only the 2nd time in American dressage. To finish off an epic Olympics, Sabine and Sanceo left their mark in history scoring emphatically in the 80s with an 84.300% in the Freestyle and finishing in 5th place in Individual competition.
“I want to make sure that my horses have all the nutrients and support that reflect their individual needs. Platinum Performance has shown great results in my horses’ health by enhancing their performance and well-being.”
Sabine’s Formulas for Success:
After moving from Los Angeles, Jessica Springsteen grew up on her family’s Stone Hill Farm in Colt’s Neck, New Jersey situated next door to equitation guru Stacia Madden and her renowned training facility, Beacon Hill Show Stables. Form follows function, and so it is no surprise that success has followed the equitation star into the highest levels of show jumping, winning such classes as the American Gold Cup and the Saugerties $1 Million Grand Prix FEI — CSI5*, as well as multiple international competitions on the Longines Global Champions Tour. Jessica was named the traveling reserve rider for the U.S. Olympic Show Jumping Team at the 2012 London Games.
Riding under an even brighter spotlight than other Olympic stars, the daughter of famous rocker Bruce Springsteen, appeared perfectly at ease in her Olympic debut. Her partner of two years, the incredibly talented 12-year old Belgian Warmblood stallion, Don Juan van de Donkhoeve, did not disappoint. Riding alongside the rest of the U.S. Show Jumping dream team of Kent Farrington, McLain Ward and Laura Kraut—with a combined seven Olympic medals—the forecast was bright for an exciting and competitive championship debut.
Jessica and Don Juan had a beautiful first round of competition in the Individual Jumping Qualifier, but an unlucky rail at the third to last oxer resulted in a four fault total. With no room for error, clear rounds only advanced to the Individual Final.
In the Team Jumping Qualifier, Jessica’s four faults were added to Laura Kraut and McLain Ward’s scores for a 13 fault total, helping to move the United States into the Team Jumping Final. Jessica and McLain each had a single rail in the Final, which created a tie between the United States and Sweden with eight faults a piece, forcing a jump off situation. All three riders from each team would ride again over a shorter eight fence course. The fewest faults and fastest combined team times (as tiebreaker) would determine the gold medalists. The #14 ranked rider in the world rose to the occasion as Jessica turned in a clear jump-off round as did both of her teammates keeping the pressure on Sweden. A clean riding Swedish team edged out the U.S. by 1.3 seconds securing the gold medal, with the United States earning silver in incredible and breathtaking competition.
“Nutrition is very important to me. I want my horses to feel their best so they can compete to their fullest potential.”
Jessica’s Formulas for Success:
Arguably the most influential modern American show jumper, McLain Ward is an equestrian phenom. Ward has left little to prove in the arena winning gold medals at the Olympics, the Pan American and World Equestrian Games, topping the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Finals and being ranked #1 in the world. With all of his experience, there are few riders more coveted to have on your team, especially in extreme pressure situations.
Rotating in to compete for Team USA in the Team Jumping competition, McLain and Contagious, the 12-year old German Sporthorse gelding, were fresh and eager to get in the Games. At the Tokyo Olympics, a new format was implemented that most affected team competition. In all previous Olympic Games, each team competed with four riders and were able to drop the lowest score. Per the new format, only three riders were on a team, and each score was added to the total. All scores counted, adding a significant amount of pressure to each team member. In the Team Qualifier round, McLain was the third and final rider to go for the U.S. He and Contagious tallied a total of five faults—four for a rail and one time fault. McLain’s total faults, combined with the total scores of teammates Jessica Springsteen and Laura Kraut, had Team USA finishing with 13 combined faults, which put them in 5th place and qualified as a top 10 team to advance to the Team Jumping Final. In the Final, McLain was again the final rider to go for the U.S., knocking over a single rail for four faults in a quick 79.98 second time. This would secure a medal for the United States, but it wasn’t clear which one it would be as the United States ended in a tie with Sweden forcing a jump-off.
The jump-off consisted of a shortened 8 fence finale where total faults plus time would determine gold and silver medals. McLain Ward went last with a clear fault-free round in a speedy 39.92 seconds, leaving all the pressure on the final rider, Sweden’s Peder Fredricson. Fredricson was not to be denied and turned in a dazzling clear round in 39.01 seconds, 1.3 seconds ahead of the U.S. total, to bring the gold medal home to Sweden for the first time since 1924. Sweden’s total time was 122.90 seconds with the United States just behind in 124.20, and McLain and his teammates were awarded thrilling and hard-fought silver medals.
“These top performance horses, every step that they take is planned. Platinum Performance has just been wonderful for the horses. You can see it in their conditioning, recovery time and overall fitness.”
McLain’s Formulas for Success:
When Kent was 8 years old, he saw a picture of his mother sitting on a horse and asked if he could try it himself. From the eager little boy taking weekly lessons at a carriage barn in downtown Chicago, Kent has skyrocketed to the top of the sport, literally. In fact, fellow Platinum athlete, McLain Ward was ranked #1 in the Longines FEI World Rankings through June 2017, but in July 2017, Kent Farrington bumped Ward to #2 to take the top spot in the world. This was the first time two Americans stood at the top of the Longines FEI world rankings.
Suffice to say the former world #1 ranked show jumper is a viable threat in every class he enters. With the experience of winning a Team silver medal on Voyeur at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Kent was primed and ready for Tokyo flying in his A-list horse, Gazelle, for the Games. The 15-year old Belgian Warmblood mare owned by Kent and Robin Parsky is a seasoned competitor at the championship level, and pulled her weight to earn a Team gold medal at the Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada in 2015.
The first day of show jumping competition held the Individual Jumping Qualifier that promised an extremely high stake day of sport as a single rail down would likely keep riders out of the Individual Finals. Tokyo’s Equestrian Park was host to the show jumping and showcased a 1.65m track with brilliantly detailed Japanese-inspired fences. A total of 73 riders competed with the top 30 advancing to the Individual Final. Kent and Gazelle jumped beautifully with only the lightest rub on the third to last oxer dropping the top rail, the same fence that fell for Jessica Springsteen. This single flaw left hometown horse and rider with a four fault total and a time of 88.57, narrowly missing the cut for the next day’s Final. None of the three Americans competing individually—Kent Farrington, Jessica Springsteen or Laura Kraut—moved on to the Individual Jumping Finals to vie for medals. Great Britain’s Ben Maher on Explosion W won the gold medal in a nail-biting jump-off. While all medalists jumped clear Maher’s blistering 37.85 second time bested silver medalist Peder Fredricson and All In of Sweden. Maikel van der Vleuten and Beauville Z took the bronze individual medal home to the Netherlands. Only 1.05 seconds separated gold from bronze. Even though it’s not how we hoped the Olympics would play out for Kent, it was an extremely exciting kick-off for several days of excellent show jumping. We look forward to watching him contend for another Olympic medal in Paris in 2024.
“Platinum’s combination of simplicity and efficiency make it an ideal supplement for every horse in the stable.”
Kent’s Formulas for Success:
by Emily Smith, MS,