Interview with Saer Coulter – the newcomer from the USA

16. Jul 13 | 12:00 | By | Category: INTERNATIONAL NEWS, interviews

16 July 2013

While the last few weeks you could very often read the name Saer Coulter top-placed at prestigious shows all over Europe. The 21-year-old Stanford student is training with Markus Beerbaum since 2010 – three years where she learned a lot and always tries to spend the summer in Germany at the Michaels-Beerbaum farm in Thedinghausen near Bremen. The big goal for this year for her is competing at the Global Champions Tour and doing the World Cup in winter. With no less than four Grand Prix horses Saer is one of the most talented young US-show-jumping-riders…

She was talking to me about her passion for horses, her big goals with them, her most memorable moments and how training at the Michaels-Beerbaum farm is like…

At the Global Champions Tour event in London you had quite big success including a 4th place in a major class. How do you like such big events like the GCT?

I am lucky to have the opportunity to compete in the GCTs this summer. They are some of the most competitive and difficult competitions in the world right now and just being able to be a part of them pushes me to become a better rider. I learn so much from simply watching the best in the world compete and then getting to jump the same courses that they are jumping. Jan Tops has done an unbelievable job making the Global Champions Tour both beautiful and competitive. It is always fun to travel to new places and experience different cities and different showing venues. The GCT makes all of that possible. Since I am still learning, a lot the events can also be challenging for me but these challenges only provide new learning experiences. Competing in the GCTs is inspiring, challenging, fun and shows you that there is always more to learn.

You are at Markus and Meredith Beerbaums place and trained by Markus. How long will you stay there? What is especially nice about this place for you?

From September-May Markus travels to the US to train me, Lucy Davis, and my sister Audrey. During those months we compete in California, on the east coast and in Florida. In the summer, I come to Germany and base out of Markus and Meredith’s farm while competing throughout Europe. This summer I will be here for about three months. They have a beautiful facility that is fantastic for the horses. It is a great escape from the busy shows for the horses to relax and for us to train before heading to all the major competitions.

You are trained by Markus for several years now? How did this cooperation start?

I have been working with Markus and Meredith for three years now. The first time I met Meredith was when she came over to our farm about three and a half years ago to do a clinic for my sister and me. We had a great time with her and felt like we learned a lot in that short weekend. A few months after that Markus and Meredith came over together to train us for a weekend again and after working with both of them we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to begin training with Markus and Meredith full time.

What is the best thing about Markus Beerbaum as a trainer? Do you think a big part of your recent successes is because of him training you?

Markus has been hugely influential in helping me get to where I am today. Until I was nineteen I was trained by two American trainers who did a fantastic job of getting me to the Grand Prix level. Once I was competing consistently in the Grand Prixs the next step was to help me improve my consistency at the 1.60 level. Markus has hugely helped making this step towards consistency. He has made me a smoother, more confident and more capable rider over the past three years. His training is powerful in its simplicity. Most importantly, his training is centered not only on improving my riding but also on improving the horse’s training as well. Markus is incredible at working with the horses to make sure they are always listening to the leg and responsive to the rider. Working with him the past three years has been an incredible opportunity and he always has something new to teach me!

Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum was the first (and only) woman ever ranked No.1 at the Rolex Rankings. Has she always been a role model for you? Are there other riders who you look up to?

I admire Meredith’s work ethic, her competitive nature, and her strength. She made a huge decision to move to Germany as a young American that would be a hard choice for many people. But she worked hard and got herself to the top, which is hugely admirable. Meredith is a great person to have around to ask advice from and, even though she doesn’t train me on a regular basis, she can give insight to my riding that is always helpful. Together, Markus and Meredith make an amazing team. Growing up in the US I have always looked up to Beezie Madden and Laura Kraut. Beezie and Laura are both incredibly consistent and competitive at the top level and I have always loved watching them compete.

You´ve been in Germany now for a while. What is different in riding here for you from riding in the United States?

Traveling between the US and Germany keeps things interesting! In the US the system is much more based on amateur and junior riders and their trainers. Shows often have many different rings with many different levels of riding all in the same place. When I first came to Germany for the summer and went to Aachen to watch Meredith ride I was awe struck. I compared the Aachen stadium to a football stadium in the US. I had never seen so many people coming to watch horses compete and it was incredibly inspiring. Germany as a country has a great love for horses that you cannot find in the same way in the United States. The US has some amazing shows, the Florida circuit and the Alltech National Horse show in Kentucky for example, but it is great to come to Germany in the summers where there is such respect and admiration for show jumping by the entire nation.  

Do you miss the USA sometimes? Your family and friends? How often can you visit them?

I love that I can spend part fo the year in Germany and Part of the year in the US. During the year I get to spend a lot of time with my family and friends and during the summer I spend my time in Germany. My parents often come to visit and watch some of the shows while I am in Europe and I always love it when my sister is competing at the same shows with me. I am so lucky to have such incredibly supportive friends and family that always follow where I am and stay updated on my show schedule.

What did you especially learn over here in Germany?

When I first started training with Markus he taught me the German Seat. He worked on getting me to sit in the saddle after the jumps so that I could reorganize more quickly. This was hugely helpful to my riding! Although I am American my current riding style has been greatly influenced and helped by the German riding style.

What do you like best about Germany? And what do you dislike?

I love the passion for horses in Germany. It inspires me to get better every day that I am here. The one thing I need to work on is learning to speak German!

Your best horses Springtime and Don are both in very good shape recently. What is making them special for you? What do you hope for with them this year?

I am so lucky to have such a great group of horses right now. Markus, Meredith and I have been working over the past three years to put together a strong group of horses to keep me at the top level. Springtime and Don are two amazing horses that I am privileged to be able to ride. Springtime I have owned for four years now. We have owned him since he was ten and he has been a fantastic horse for me. Over the past three years he has been my top horse. He was the first horse I jumped in a five star nations cup, he was the first horse I did in a GCT and he did the Olympic trials in Wellington, Florida last year. He has taught me so much and helped me reach a level of consistency at the 1.60. This year he will do some of the GCT Grand Prixs this summer and the World Cup Qualifiers back in California in the fall. Hopefully we can keep placing consistently as we did in London and Wiesbaden!

Don VHP Z is a nine year old that we purchased from Brendon Stud in England last August. From the first time I sat on him I knew he was the right horse for me. I had a special connection with him from the beginning and I am really excited about his talent and ability. He consistently placed in all the Grand Prixs in California this winter and was 12th in the $1 million at HITS Thermal. I am excited to have him back in Europe for the summer and hope to get him into some of the five star Grand Prixs and just keep working on improving our relationship. I think he is really special and I am excited to see where we will go!

What other horses did you take over here to Europe?

I have a few other younger horses here but I am lucky to also have two other Grand Prix horses, Carmena Z and Graciella. Carmena Z was previously ridden by Shane Breen and has been a really fun horse for me to have for the past year and a half. Graciella is an eleven year old mare who won a few grand prixs in California this year and most recently was third in the 1.45 in Rotterdam. She is feisty, fast and so much fun!

How did you start riding in the US? When did you decide to become a show jumping rider?

When I was 4 my family lived in Woodside, California and my neighbor across the street had horses. The first time I rode was on the neighbors horses across the street. Shortly after, my family moved to the city of San Francisco and I wasn’t around horses for a little while. When I was ten I asked my parents if I could start riding again and they found a place for me to start riding ponies. I started just going a couple times a week and my love for the horses only kept growing. I started in the Pony hunters with my first pony named “Dreams Come True” and rode in the hunters and equitation until I was twelve when I first started in show jumping. I did my first Grand Prix at 17 and at that point realized how many opportunities are open to show jumpers all over the world. Since then I have been constantly working to improve in the show jumping arena.

Your sister Audrey is also a show jumping rider. Have horses always been a part of the Coulter family?

Once I started riding my sister became interested as well. While my parents were never really involved with horses before they understood the passion my sister and I had for riding. They have always been incredibly supportive of our passion. It has always been so much fun having my sister at the shows with me. Its great that we both share such a love for horses and show jumping!

Which success in riding do you remember best?

One of my favorite memories is the first time I went clear in a Grand Prix. I was 18 and it was my third or fourth Grand Prix. It was the $100,000 Grand Prix of Del Mar in California and there were only three clear round. Richard Spooner on two horses, a fantastic rider who I always looked up to growing up in California, and me. I ended up third but it was fantastic to compete against Richard and such a huge moment for me. Although it wasn’t a huge success overall it really inspired me to keep going and is something I will always remember. Being a part of the winning US Nations Cup team in Buenos Aires was another great success. Recently, I was very excited about my 6th place finish in the DKB riders tour Grand Prix in Wiesbaden and my fourth place finish in the $60,000 1.50 in London behind Patrice Delaveau, Steve Guerdat, and Scott Brash.

What is making horses so fascinating for you?

One of the most intriguing part of horses is that there is always something new to learn! Just when you think you have figured it out there is another level and another aspect to be conquered. The sport always keeps you humble, one day you can win and the next day you can fall off. No matter what it is always interesting!

When you are not sitting on a horseback, what do you like to do?

I love spending time with my friends at Stanford. I have made some incredible friends there who always inspire me in every aspect in life.  I am majoring in Art History and I really like to go to museums and look at art. I also love skiing!

Do you have a special philosophy in life?

I like to try to do as much as possible! Sometimes I try to do too much but I love being able to travel, go to school, ride and spend time with my friends and family. There are so many fantastic experiences out there. It is also important to always try to stay positive. Positivity can get you very far!

If you had one wish to be fulfilled, what would it be?

Right now I am not sure what I would wish for!


Interview: Alexandra Koch

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