Sabine Spring — trainer, owner, race official

by Victoria Howard

Born in Munich, Germany, this edition’s Superstar moved to the United States in 1999 and got a job working for Hall of Famer Jimmy Takter as a caretaker.

The fact that her family was not involved in harness racing didn’t deter the young girl from trying something completely out of her element, and it didn’t take long before Sabine Spring would excel in every sector of the industry that she went into.

“Horses have always been my love and passion, and whether it’s owning, training, riding, placing retirees in forever homes, or working on the backside as a racing official, I am living out my dream and doing exactly what I always wanted to do.”

So how did this German girl get involved in harness racing?

“A horse named GERMER is the one responsible that sparked my interest in being involved in harness racing. He was a trotter who came right off the track and my sister and I bought him as our riding horse. He was a goofy guy who I will never forget.

“I had many other horses in Germany, such as millionaire KANO COMFORT and Derby winner SPEEDY HARRY.

“I was fortunate to work with some really nice horses in Germany and travel across Europe to race them. Millionaire Kano Comfort and Derby Winner Speedy Harry have been two of the most outstanding trotters I’ve had the honor and blessing to work with.

“After working for Takter, I got a job at Joie De Vie Farm in New Jersey. It was there that I met my husband and the plan of my staying a few months in the United States turned into permanently living here.

“It was great working at the farm for I got a chance to work with some really, really good ones, such as AVA, DREAM ANGEL, EXCUSEZ MOI and TONY CHIN. We developed other nice youngsters as well.

“I’ve always enjoyed working with the young ones, but today I have mostly teenagers who have a lot of wisdom.

“The most prominent amongst my retirees are: champion trotter SEVRUGA, THEHEARTOFCONFUSION A (who was recently adopted out a few days ago) and multiple winners who earned several hundred thousand dollars during their racing careers; now enjoying their retirement eating green grass and exploring the trails.

“I currently have 10 retired standardbreds; the majority of which are available for adoption after transitioning into riding horses. They reside at a farm I’m leasing in Pennsylvania.

“Horses are wonderful, intelligent animals and standardbreds are exceptionally versatile. I love seeing them show the world what they are capable of doing besides racing.

“The breed is incredibly smart, willing to learn and please, level headed, and hardy.

“The mandatory retirement age for standardbreds is 15, but many retire way before that due to not being competitive enough to pay the bills, or sustaining injuries that require more time to heal then their owners can afford.

“Most trainers and owners are caring and want to be sure their horses will go to loving homes in their second careers after retired from racing. I’m often contacted by the horsemen/horsewomen to take their horse to rehab to transition them to racing so they can be adopted out.

“Over the years I’ve had many standardbreds who ended up at auctions and kill pens across the United States after they no longer could work on Amish farms as buggy horses. I always try my best to keep one or two and save them from that horrific trip across the borders.

“I wish I could save them all, for they all deserve another chance, but it’s impossible.

“It’s amazing how the horses saved from the kill pen blossom with TLC and proper nutrition. The vast majority of kill pen horses are useful for riding and driving and make exceptional family horses after they’ve had time to bounce back from nutrition and neglect.

“All the horses go on an adoption contract and will come back to me should their owner no longer care for the horse. Through this life-fulfilling endeavor, I have met many wonderful people and made good friends with many adopters. Seeing the horses being well cared for and happy is one of the most rewarding things in life and why I do this.”

Spring makes time in her busy life to place retired racehorses into loving, forever homes. She is one of several ‘angels’ who place horses who can no longer race; and steers them into a new career.

Besides owning and training horses, Spring has worked as the assistant paddock judge at Harrah’s Philadelphia from 2006 through 2020 and began working as assistant race secretary at Pocono Downs in February 2021.

“My job as assistant race secretary includes taking entries each day; assisting in putting together the races; taking and directing phone calls, and processing claims placed on horses in claiming races,” she said.

Today, she resides in Ashley, PA with her husband and horses.

If you are interested in adopting one of these horses you can reach Sabine at