By Britney Grover
Susan “Susie” Schoellkopf’s riding career began exactly where it is now: at the Saddle and Bridle Club in Buffalo, New York. Of course, the Saddle and Bridle Club where Susie began riding at 6 years old is now the Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center, and she’s been executive director since 1990. She has also owned and operated SBS Farms, Inc. since 1980, with tremendous success. Susie trained five horses to USEF National Champion status, including National Show Horse Hall of Fame Horse of the Year Jersey Boy, ridden by Jennifer Alfano.
Susie has dedicated her life not just to her own program, but to the furtherance of the sport, serving as a USEF “R” judge for over 25 years as well as on national boards and committees. In 2014, she was inducted into the National Show Hunter Hall of Fame. In 2022, she was recognized outside of the horse world when she was inducted into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, representing equestrian sports amongst many acclaimed basketball players, football players and other sports greats. And Susie’s not done yet. Even just with SBS Farms, Inc. and the Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center, Susie’s each and every day is still dedicated to horses—and the people around them.
Tell us about your family.
I grew up with two parents that were very involved in the horse industry and two sisters who are very involved with horses; one is a foxhunter. We three sisters did the hunt teams at Madison Square Garden together.
Best early memories of riding or with horses?
My best riding memories are showing at Madison Square Garden.
Any favorite horses over the years?
WAY too many to count. I have been so privileged to have so many wonderful horses in my life, I can’t even begin—horses I’ve owned, horses I’ve trained. And now that I have the therapeutic riding program, there are even more.
What’s your favorite thing about being part of the horse world?
I’ve been really lucky to do so many different roles in my life in the horse world. I’ve been able to wear many hats on committees for USEF, being executive director at Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center, chairing the Hunter and Junior Hunter committees, starting the Derby and Green Incentive programs, starting Buffalo Horsemanship Challenge here in Buffalo, and judging some of the top horse shows in the country.
If you weren’t involved with the horse world, what career do you think you would have picked?
I would be an event coordinator.
If you could tell every rider one thing, what would it be?
Believe in your horse
If you had a week off, what would you do?
Go to Palm Springs
Where is your favorite place you have been?
Gstaad, Switzerland, is my favorite place.
Where would you like to go but haven’t?
Do you have a personal motto or catch phrase?
Proper planning prevents poor performance!
Have you had a funny horse moment that still makes you laugh?
Showing at Madison Square Garden with my sisters—we would argue all the way into the ring!
What’s something you’ve done that not many people have?
Madison Square Garden Hunt Teams
Who inspires you?
The kids in the Buffalo Therapeutic program
Outside of horses, what do you like to do?
Play backgammon and watch movies
What’s your favorite clothing item to wear?
What’s your favorite meal?
Steak, just steak
What three things can always be found in your refrigerator?
Trader Joe’s green tea, Fair Life milk, English muffins
Something people don’t know about you?
That I’m a really nice person
What would be the best gift in the world?
For me? Money to help kids in need
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
To make children’s cancer go away
What’s something everyone should try at least once?
Judging a horse show
Susie Schoellkopf was inducted into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame in 2022.
Photo by Tom Wolf