#ProElitePro Sara Hassler, a successful competitor and trainer, is the assistant trainer for Hassler Dressage based out of Chesapeake City, Maryland and Wellington, Florida. With Harmony’s Boitano, Sara ended 2019 tied for Reserve Champion for Intermediare I at the national Festival of Champions, and by sweeping the three CDI small tour classes at Devon. In May 2019 the pair had their first win in a CDI Intermediare I in Canada receiving scores of 72+ and 73+ percent in a panel of 5 Olympic judges. Earlier in Wellington, Florida they finished second in their debut CDI small tour competition with scores above 70 percent and continued their successful winter tour always in the ribbons.
A lifelong dressage rider in training with international trainers Scott and Susanne Hassler, she has also trained in Germany and in clinics with international trainers including Steffen Peters, Michael Klimke, and Ingo Pape. Sara has had success training horses to Grand Prix level – but enjoys working with horses of all levels. Sara is a gifted trainer and coach with a special ability to make learning fun for horses and riders of all ages.
Sara Hassler has known she was going to be a professional horsewoman since she could walk and talk. Born into a long line of horse people, on both sides of the family tree, Sara has felt a magical connection to horses her whole life. “At six years old, I told my parents I wanted to go to the Olympics for Dressage,” says Hassler.
Today, Sara runs Hassler Dressage with her father and best friend, Scott Hassler, out of Poinciana Farm in Florida and still has her eye on the Olympics. After operating Hassler Dressage out of John and Leslie Malone’s River Edge Farm in Chesapeake City, MD for many years, Sara and Scott realized it was time to start their own business together and relaunched Hassler Dressage in 2016.
“We sat down and thought about what we wanted to achieve. We decided we wanted to focus on excellence, proper development of young horses all the way to the grand prix level, do elite sales and provide quality care,” shares Hassler. “We like to say at Hassler Dressage we are coaching for success.”
More than just father and daughter or coach and student, Sara and Scott truly bring out the best in each other. “We have such a beautiful partnership because we both bring something to the table. There’s not a single day that goes by where we aren’t laughing or smiling,” says Hassler. “We are both so grateful we get to share this business we love together.”
Sara and Scott have well defined roles at Hassler Dressage. “I’m the engine behind Hassler Dressage and my dad’s the vehicle. He’s always on the road teaching and doing clinics. I run the business at home, training the horses and teaching the clients we have,” said Hassler. This business model works as Scott doesn’t mind traveling all over the country to meet customers every weekend, while Sara is happy to be home taking care of all things Hassler Dressage.
Although Sara can’t recall the last time she had a day off she wouldn’t have it any other way. “In life I strive to find happiness every day. I wanted a life that I didn’t need a vacation from. I enjoy working hard and love the horses so much that it doesn’t feel like work,” says Hassler. “I’m playing with horses every day, what could be better?”
Sara spent her childhood watching her parents riding and working at Hilltop Farm in Colora, MD. Although she grew up in a dressage centric family, it wasn’t always piaffes that held her passion. She initially wanted to be a jockey or a jumper. However, a special pony changed her trajectory with horses.
“I had a pony, Calypso, a really fancy dressage pony that made me fall in love with dressage. He changed my life because he made me appreciate the sport and switch paths from my jumper and jockey aspirations,” says Hassler.
An emotional person and empathetic rider, Sara connects with dressage on deep level. “Everyone says I do everything with every inch of my heart, so to me dressage is that heart discipline where you really connect with your partner,” explains Hassler.
Sara was drawn to dressage as it’s a pretty discipline with horses “dancing.” Dancing with horses is like breathing for Sara. “You’re so connected to the horse. Their breath feels like yours. To be that connected to another being is just magical,” shares Hassler. “Having a partnership that in sync, has truly changed my first impressions of what dancing with another being should feel like.”
Today, Sara strives to share the magic of dancing with horses with others while still pursuing her own ambitions. “Coaching for success at Hassler Dressage can happen at any level. It can be an amateur who want to learn how to walk, trot and canter comfortably. That’s just as important to us as training a superstar three-year-old up all the way up to the grand prix level,” says Hassler.
It takes a special person to be as excited starting a rider in the sport as they are starting an equine prospect. “It’s so exciting to me when I see my customers have lightbulb moments. I tell my customers, ‘lessons are the elixir of life, they give me energy,’” shares Hassler. “To see them go from thinking about every cue to it flowing naturally as they ride is so much fun.”
Like Scott, Sara is a natural teacher and enthusiastic about educating both horse and rider. “I love teaching, whether it’s the horse or rider. I get that from my dad. It’s such an adrenaline rush when everything starts to come together and horse and rider are dancing,” says Hassler.
One of Sara’s favorite dance partners is Harmony’s Boitano. The duo was awarded the 2020 Brentina Cup U25 Grand Prix Champion at the 2020 Festival of Champions after only making their debut at the Grand Prix level five months prior. Owned by Leslie Malone, “Tano” and Sara developed a special relationship after she rehabbed him from a back injury that caused frequent suspensory issues.
“Winning the Brentina Cup was such a dream come true, because I always dreamt he could be at that level, but we had to overcome so many obstacles and naysayers to get there,” shares Hassler. “The cherry on top was seeing him not only compete with, but best, horses who had been at that level for years when he had just learned some of the moves a few months prior.”
This year Sara’s goal is to compete at CHIO Aachen with Tano in the Brentina Cup one last time before aging out of the U25 group. The pair will then set their sights on the Open Grand Prix at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions.
In addition to focusing on Tano, Sara is really excited about what’s next for Hassler Dressage. “We have a great string of young horses coming up that we hope will one day represent the United States. As always, we will focus on proper development of the horses, health and happiness,” explains Hassler.
One way Sara ensures the horses in her care are happy and healthy is through feeding ProElite® Feeds. “Everyone knows nutrition is the foundation for every successful, happy horse. I know my horses can perform at their highest levels because they are supported from the inside out,” says Hassler.
Regardless of the level of her horses Hassler feels confident ProElite® Feeds can meet their needs. “I feed my young horses ProElite® Growth, the FEI horses get ProElite® Topline Advantage and our older horses eat ProElite® Senior,” says Hassler. “To me there is no other option than feeding ProElite®, because I know it’s the best feed that I can give them. I love the slogan ‘There can only be one best,’ because it’s true ProElite® is the best.”
“I can’t stress enough how important good nutrition is for dressage athletes. After seeing such amazing and consistent results from using ProElite® Feed, it’s hard to imagine feeding our horses anything else! We have had all of our horses on it from youngsters to FEI-level, it is so nice to have a feed line that works well for every horse! The young ones develop a gorgeous topline, and the FEI horses stay in top form all year round. It feels so good to know that each horse is happy and healthy from the inside out! It shows with how eager they are to eat their feed, their happy tummies, muscle definition, stamina, beautiful conformation and body scoring, and shiny coats. There really is only one best and that is ProElite Feed!”