What is it like to work for the number one ranked event rider in the world? We were dying to find out, so we asked Sabrina Zetsche, who has worked for Michael for three years, some questions to get the inside scoop. Sabrina has groomed for Michael at many top events and show jumping competitions, but she definitely names Kentucky as one of her best memories.
Sabrina took the time out of her busy schedule yesterday to answer our burning questions, and we’d like to thank her for the insider’s view! Sabrina and fischerRocana FST will be flying out of Chicago today to go back home to Germany, so we’d also like to wish them both safe travels!
EN: How long have you been working for Michael, and what are your normal responsibilities?
SZ: I have worked for Michi for almost three years now. I started an apprenticeship in 2014. Since the first year, I’m the groom for Michi and when I’m not at the competitions, I have to take care of the horses at home and ride and work them.
EN: Do you ride or compete yourself?
SZ: At home I ride everyday between three and six horses. It always depends how many people we have and how many horses are at the competition. We have another groom which prepares the horses everyday for Michi at home.
EN: Do you have a favorite horse of his, and if so, why is that one your favorite?
SZ: Well, we have so many nice horses in the stable! It’s really hard to have a favorite because all of them are beautiful and every horse has something different what makes it really special! But there is one mare, which is definitely one of my most lovely ones! It’s a showjumper and she’s called fischerChelsea. She’s not very easy to handle sometimes but if you got her heart she is going to do everything for you!
EN: What are Sam and Rocana like in the barn?
SZ: Well, you know, Sam and Rocana are the legends in the barn! They are absolutely special and awesome horses and I think they really know that. We have lots of superstars in the stable but these two have done the impossible. They are both really relaxed and calm in the barn. They know their job and what there is to do. I think they are really clever and know how to reserve energy for the important things.
EN: What advice would you give to other grooms to have the best care for their horses?
SZ: You must know the horses you take care of. Some horses are nervous in some situations, then you have to know what you can do to calm him down. Even if it was a long day, when the horse needs special care, it doesn’t matter if you have to spend 10 more minutes more in the stable.
EN: Does Michael have any superstition or traditions that he does before he rides?
SZ: I’m not really sure if he has some tradition that he does before he rides. I see always and everywhere riders who are totally excited and nervous right before a test. Michi is always totally relaxed and even makes jokes before he hops on the horse. I’m surprised over and over again this coolness.
EN: Do you have a favorite memory of working for Michael? Maybe a certain show?
SZ: There are so many special moment when I’m at the competition with Michi. For sure, Kentucky was the most exciting and emotional thing since I have been grooming for Michael. The competition venue is awesome, all the people are very friendly and it is very well organized! It’s a big pleasure for me to come over here and join this event.
EN: How does it feel to be the top groom for the winning horse in Kentucky three years in a row?
SZ: It’s unbelievable! I’m a very emotional person and I was always so nervous before the tests. I couldn’t hold back my tears at all. It’s simply awesome. I’m so proud of Michi and Rocana because it’s incredible to win a 4* with one and the same horse three years in a row.
EN: What is a normal day like for you at a show?
SZ: It always depends if it’s a showjumping or eventing competition and how many horses we have. Normally I start between 5:30 and 6:30 in the mornings. I feed the horses, muck out the boxes and walk with the horses. We always make a plan in the evening for the next day. Then I know when I have to prepare a horse for the test and when I have time to walk the others or go grazing.
EN: What is one of the biggest lessons you have learned from spending time around Michael?
SZ: Michi is a really “normal” person. He is so successful but never arrogant to other people. The horses are no machines, he treat them like good friends. Now I have known him for almost three years but I’m always and always again impressed. Since I have known him, my motto is, “If you ever doubt, keep your goal in mind! If you have your goal, you can make the impossible possible!”
And finally, one last time for the people in the back: