August 2019 - Sarah Lockman
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Friday, 26 July 2019 16:30


Pan Am Games are the current chapter in a still-unfolding story of realized dreams driven by hard work.

by Kim F Miller

Many in the international dressage world Sarah Lockman enters as a member of the U.S. Pan Am Games team July 28-31 may view her as an overnight sensation. West Coasters know better. Sometimes called the Little Richard of the horse show world, as in the “hardest working” horsewoman, Sarah fulfills a major milestone in riding for the U.S. internationally in Lima, Peru.

A year ago in this issue, we detailed the latest launchpad for Sarah’s dreams: the arrival of sponsor and supporter Gerry Ibanez. He wasn’t raised as a “horse guy” but pursued an interest in them later in life, along the way realizing that his knack for recognizing good people applied in the equestrian world, and to good horses, too. He and Sarah connected over a Friesian Gerry bought sight-unseen and as a beginning horseman in 2015. That horse, Taling Van De Oostwal, is now working at Intermediare !, and Sarah and Gerry’s partnership is taking Sarah to Peru and who knows where beyond that.

With a solid string of horses led by her Pan Am partner, First Apple, Sarah has a future that appears unlimited. “I’m still pinching myself,” she said last year of Gerry’s sponsorship and this year of the Pan Am Games appointment. “It’s been my dream to represent the United States since I was a kid and it still gives me goosebumps. I’m so honored to be on this team of incredibly talented horses and riders. Most of us have not been on a team before, so it’s an exciting opportunity to get out there and get our feet wet.”

Sarah and First Apple.

Sarah and First Apple, a 9-year-old KWPN, were named to the USET’s Pan Am Short List on May 1. And, they topped the Small Tour qualification rankings after earning a combined Prix St. Georges and Intermediare 1 average score of 74.956 with stellar outings at the Dressage Affaire and the West Coast Festival CDIs in March and April, respectively.

Once the seven horse/rider pairs were named to the Short List, there was still work to be done and suspense while waiting for the final team announcement in late June. In the interim, each worked with chef d’equipe Debbie McDonald and members of the selection committee to determine individual requirements and preparation plans. Sarah and Apple followed their plan with a few more shows. “At the end of the day, I planned to go to Lima and wanted to stay in the ring, to stay fresh and keep working on all the details. Everything worked out perfectly.”

An Unexpected Apple

A year ago, First Apple wasn’t even in the picture. Sarah was raving about a younger horse, Balia, she considered to be her perfect match. She still feels that way about the now 7-year-old Bellisimo/Florestan mare, but Balia shares that distinction with First Apple.

“I call it the Gerry juju,” laughs Sarah. “I don’t think it happens very often to get two super talented horses that are totally my type of ride within an 18-month period.” Getting two such perfect matches as Balia and Apple is the kind of serendipity that Gerry’s support engenders. That they’re both redheads makes it extra fun, Sarah adds.

The “juju”-supplying Gerry purchased a dressage training facility in La Cresta in 2017 and committed to supporting Sarah with international-quality horses, access to top coaches including her main coach, Scott Hassler, and the rest of the support system that Sarah’s talent and work ethic warrant.

Campaigned from his 6-year-old year by Patrick Van Der Meer, of Holland, Apple was not even for sale and Sarah wasn’t looking for another horse for herself when she came across him in Europe. She was looking for sale horse prospects that are an aspect of her business at Summit Farm. The purchase was made in October of last year, and Apple didn’t begin showing in California until January. “It’s been quite incredible!”

That Inexplicable Thing

Apple and Balia are “quiet, level-headed and super consistent, Sarah says. In addition to talent, they have that “unexplainable thing: that sixth sense. They both gave me that specific feeling that riders have, that feedback, like an instant language. It’s hard to put into words, but when you when you feel it, it’s almost like an out-of-body experience.”

After the Pan Am Games, Sarah and First Apple will target the selection trials for the 2020 Olympics.  “The horse shows super talent for the Grand Prix, and we are so excited how well he’s done in the Small Tour. In between the Pan Ams and selection trials, we’ll be working on the Grand Prix, but trying to do it in a way that he continues to enjoy the work.”

“Harmony” and “effortlessness” are common comments from judges so far, and Sarah prioritizes keeping those qualities in their partnership over any other goal.
The Pan Am Games odyssey formally began with training camp in Wellington, Florida, where Sarah is especially excited to work with Debbie McDonald. Sarah met Debbie early in her professional career, in 2013, as she was just beginning CDI competition with Vinterpol. “Debbie has always been such a big supporter of mine and I enjoyed working with her when she was the USET Developing Rider coach. She’s such a huge player for the USEF, as a coach, trainer and cheerleader.”

Sarah hasn’t given much thought to how the international community will view her. “I’m still kind of the same person I was when I was 16,” she says. “I’m so grateful for everything. I’m keeping my head down, working really hard. No matter what happens, at the end of the day, what matters is what I and my coaches think.

“I’m really excited to get to know more people,” she continues. “I think my history will come out over time, and I’m planning to just stay true to myself. To keep showing up and doing the same things that brought me here.”

Fellow Californians Nick Wagman and Don John are the alternates for the Pan Am Games dressage team. This pair stood second – to Charlotte Jorst and Kastel’s Nintendo, on the Big Tour ranking list.

On the eventing side, Tamie Smith of Temecula and Mai Baum are on the main squad, and California native Liz Halliday-Sharp is the traveling reserve with Cooley Quicksilver. They have extra work cut out for them because the eventing team must earn gold or silver to assure a spot at the 2020 Olympics.

Eve Jobs carries the California flag on the jumping team.

Big kudos to all!

The Pan American Games is a major sporting event in the Americas featuring summer sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions.  The equestrian schedule is as follows: dressage takes place June 28-31; eventing is August 1-4; and jumping is August 6-9. At presstime, it appeared that USEF Facebook, Instagram and other social media channels will be the best way to stay abreast of news from Peru.