“Once he gets to know you and trust you he’s a lovely guy and wants to feel respected and important all the time.”
As Canada’s Olympic dressage team prepares to compete in Tokyo, let’s go behind the stall door to meet one of the team’s brightest stars.
The 15-year-old black gelding known as Seb has helped propel his rider/trainer Lindsay Kellock to success after success in the international ring, and the Olympics isn’t their final destination. The sky’s the limit for this talented horse ‒ and he knows it!
Show name: Sebastien
Nicknames: Seb, Sebber
Year of birth: 2006
Height: 16.3 hands
Breeding: Rhinelander by Sandro Hit out of a Fidermark dam
Owner: Melissa Schiff of Enterprise Farm Equestrian
Competitive highlights together:
2019 : Won the CDI GP and GPF at Devon
2020: Silver medal Nations Cup team Wellington FL
2021 : Won the 3* GPS in Wellington with 73.3%
2021: 2nd place at Tryon in the freestyle with 79% and an 80% from one judge
How long have you been paired with him?
How and where did you first meet him?
I first met Sebastien when I went for a job interview for the position of head trainer at Enterprise Farm Equestrian (in Wellington, FL) in September of 2016.
What was your initial impression?
My first impression was that he is a very intelligent horse with a big ego. He comes across grumpy at first, but once he gets to know you and trust you he’s a lovely guy and wants to feel respected and important all the time.
When did you first have an inkling that he had the talent to go all the way to the Olympics?
I would say my first inkling was when I competed him at Devon in 2019. This was only the third CDI competition of his career and the class was under the lights in the big stadium, which makes for quite an intimidating atmosphere. I had no idea going into it how he was going to handle that pressure and he really rose to the occasion and tried his heart out for me. We ended up winning the class with a 71%, which at the time was a career high score for me at the Grand Prix level. I learned in that moment that Sebastien wanted to go all the way and show everyone what he’s capable of.
What has he taught you as a rider and trainer?
I would say that Seb has taught me the most of any horse. We have had our challenges and setbacks and he’s taught me to have patience and to be a good listener. He’s very smart and once he understand something he’s got it, but he doesn’t want to be pushed around. He wants to feel very respected and he’s made me a better rider and trainer because of that.
Describe his personality in one word
What’s his greatest strength?
His greatest strength in the GP tests is the passage/piaffe and the trot half-passes. He really doesn’t have anything holding him back. He has three good gaits and a great presence in the ring.
What’s his biggest challenge?
Sometimes his ego gets in the way. [laughs]
What is his favourite treat?
He loves bananas, stud muffins, oranges, pumpkin spice treats, polo mints. The list goes on and on!
Is there anything he hates or is afraid of?
He’s a very brave horse, but he doesn’t like cold water, and he likes his personal space and his alone time.
If he were a human celebrity, who would he be?
Have you had any embarrassing/funny moments with him?
Hmmm, that’s a tough one. He’s a very serious guy and would avoid embarrassment at any cost, so I can honestly say that we haven’t really had a moment like that.
If he wasn’t a dressage horse, what would his dream occupation be?
We joke at the barn that he would like to be a hair product model.
What are your future plans for him beyond 2021?
I will listen to him and let him decide what his future plans are moving forward after the Olympics, but I believe he still has a lot more to give and he really loves competing. Right now our goals are to do the World Cup and/or the World Championships in Denmark.