Sarah Martin

Born Sarah Merrill in New York City and raised between a small town outside New York (Piermont, on the Hudson River) and a small farm town in northwest Massachusetts (Heath), Sarah’s attraction to horses was a mystery to her parents, whose passion was sailing. Fortunately for Sarah, they recognized and supported her passion, and allowed her to spend every vacation moment and every moment not occupied by school with her friends who had horses. From Shetland ponies to donkeys to Arabians, anything that resembled a horse would satisfy Sarah’s need to touch, ride and spend time with these special friends.

Living with her grandmother and then the Malone family in Heath, Massachusetts, Sarah was able to participate in conditioning their Arabs for 50 and 100 mile endurance rides. In high school, now with her own horse, Sarah was able to participate and compete in 50 mile rides held at GMHA in Woodstock, Vermont. She also participated in their annual summer Pony Camps for two weeks each year learning to event her horse through Training Level.

College years found Sarah selling her own horse in order to attend Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Attracted by their reputation for developing independent people and their work study program, Sarah worked her way through a Bachelor’s Degree in Wildlife Biology. In every location she worked or studied, Sarah would find a horse to work with.

Graduating and starting work in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park, Sarah realized her only truly happy times were spent with the pack horse she used for moving her research gear around the park. When her project was finished, Sarah bid the research life good-bye and headed back to Massachusetts to re-ignite her life with horses.Antioch’s influence on Sarah was a deep desire to experience as many aspects of living and working with horses, in as many varied locations around the country, as she could expose herself to.

Having been introduced to FEI level dressage during a working student relationship with Regula Lorenz of Middleburg, Virginia, Sarah wanted to learn more about this intriguing sport. Moving back north from Tennessee, Sarah worked for a year at Flying Horse Stables in Hamilton, Massachusetts. There she trained with Sarah Geikie and watched the top event riders in the country training at Ledyard. She became quite clear in that time that eventing at the World Class level was not her desire.

After a year in New England Sarah wanted change, so she chose the diagonal opposite and moved to Tucson, Arizona. Helping her life long friend Penny Malone, Sarah was back in the world of Arabian show horses.

From Snaffle Bit Futurities to Western Pleasure, cutting horses and Arabian hunters, Sarah worked with Penny and her training stable. Hooking up with the local Pony Club, Sarah went on to work at Esperanza Stables on the north end of town.

There she met Cila Yantis, a trainer from Linda Zang’s Idlewilde Farm in Davidsonville, Maryland. Intrigued by Cila’s eye for detail and understanding of dressage, Sarah moved back to Maryland to work for Cila.

From Maryland Sarah was offered a job as assistant trainer for Sue Curry in Boulder, Colorado. Moving to Colorado in the summer of 1985, Sarah lost all desire to move anywhere else: Colorado was and is home.

For the next two decades Sarah continued to ride, work and study with the mentors she observed as having the skills she wanted to cultivate. Her interest was always in “how to” so she sought out trainers who could explain, and who had the life experience of developing horses from nothing to something – and something had to be Grand Prix on a World Class level. As such, her time was invested with Sarah Hall from Linda Zang’s barn. Many years, including 3 months immediately after Sarah and Clayton were married, were spent studying with Carol Lavell. Moving their training westward again, Sarah and Clayton both spent time with Hilda Gurney. Through a clinic, Sarah met Kathy Connelly and became fascinated with what long lines could accomplish, especially with the development of piaffe and passage.

Through her husband Clayton, Sarah was introduced to and had the opportunity to work with Karl Mikolka for many years.

From all of these working relationships deep friendships have developed. Sarah has a long list of accomplished horses and riders, and feels she owes it all to the tutelage and mentoring of these wonderful people.

Professional Accomplishments

  • USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold Medalist
  • USDF Certified Second and Fourth Level Instructor Trainer
  • USDF “L” Program Graduate with Distinction
  • Trainer for USDF Horse of the Year horses and riders from Training Level through Prix St Georges

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