Janet Sassmannshausen was born and raised in Glen Ellyn, IL. Her love of horses was apparent at an early age, so she began taking lessons at a local riding school. It didn't take her long to realize that she wanted to make horses her life's work.
In 1977, at the age of 16, Janet began working for Bill and Michele Muenzenmay at Dunham Woods Farm. She mainly taught private lessons to help pay for her own continued training. Among some of her first students were Nora Fredrickson-Thomas, Jeanie Savegnago, and Chris and Katie Kappler. Chris would go on to win Team Gold and Individual Silver Medals in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
At the age of 19, Janet started running the daily operations of Oak Brook Hunt Club's riding school. This allowed her to continue teaching lessons, showing and developing her client base. While at Oak Brook Hunt Club she would meet her future husband, Richard.
In 1982, Oak Brook Hunt Club was sold. Janet moved her business to Fairlane Farm, in nearby Naperville, IL. While at Fairlane, it wasn't uncommon for Janet to teach over 200 lessons a week for Fairlane's riding school, in addition to caring for her own clients.
Kinvarra's Early Years
By the early 80's, The horse industry was beginning to change, making the sport more accessible then ever before. The focus began shifting away from traditional riding schools, towards a more personalized equestrian experience. This resulted in more clients purchasing or leasing their own horses, seeking personalized programs, and wanting to compete at horse shows, both locally and nationally.
In 1984, Richard and Janet bought Kinvarra Farm, a beautiful 13 acre property located in the heart of Fox River Valley's "Horse Country". This allowed Janet to focus more on her clients, by designing more personalized programs for them and their horses. This new structure gave Kinvarra clients access to a new level of riding, allowing them the opportunity to compete in the rapidly growing show circuits.
In 1989, a fox hunting accident forced Janet to retire from the saddle.Though no longer able to ride, she continued to pursue her passion of horsemanship. Working and teaching from the ground, she brought in talented riders who shared her vision to help maintain and expand her program.
Janets vision of a top quality, family friendly equestrian facility, quickly became a reality. Kinvarra Farm continues to provide exceptional personalized service to this day.
Over the course of the next few decades, Kinvarra helped launch the careers of many of today’s most successful equestrians. Following an amazing Junior career, future Olympian Chris Kappler began his professional career under Janet before moving on to work with George Morris at Hunterdon. Other trainers who got their start at Kinvarra include Katie Kappler, Nora Fredrickson-Thomas, Rachel Johnson, Maggie Gould, and Maggie Jayne. Katie would go on to start her own farm, Kappler Farms. Nora met her husband Morgan and started their own business in the Pacific Northwest. Maggie Gould currently works out of Eastwind Farm in Wellington, FL and Maggie Jayne joined her prestigious family business, Our Day Farm. Janet, along with help from each of these incredible trainers, was able to provide her four boys with excellent training at an early age, all the while knowing that the future of Kinvarra would lie in their hands and hearts.
Kinvarra Farm remains a family run business to this day. All four of Janet’s sons are an integral part of the operations and continued success of Kinvarra. Well known throughout the horse industry, the Sassmannshausen boys each had highly successful Junior careers. They were fortunate enough to train and work under some of the best in the business, both at Kinvarra as well as other prestigious barns throughout the country.
Eric trained with George Morris and Chris Kappler at Hunterdon, as well as Norman Dello Joio, Steve Schaffer, and John and Beezie Madden. He is currently working full time for Split Rock Show Jumping.
Ryan would train with Maggie Gould, Morgan and Nora Thomas, Maggie Jayne, Lane Change Farm, and Missy Clark at North Run. After two years of working and showing for Missy at North Run, Ryan joined his mother at Kinvarra in 2012, assuming the role of Head Professional.
Kevin trained under Maggie Jayne and Maggie Gould. He has developed into a top grounds keeper, working at some of the biggest horse shows in the country. He also started his own jump building business, providing top of the line jumps to some of the area’s biggest horse shows.
Matthew trained under Maggie Gould, Maggie Jayne, and Missy Clark at North Run. He is currently working under Olympian Daniel Bluman.
In 2014, with the help of the entire family, Kinvarra began its transformation into the facility it is today. The farm was rebranded and modernized. Some of the upgrades include a completely new aisle and all new matted stalls, the indoor ring was remodeled, providing new footing that is continually worked to insure a safe, comfortable ride. We expanded our outdoor ring and added a viewing pergola, and our grass Derby Field was cleared and graded to allow for proper drainage. We are continually looking for ways to improve our facility, so we can provide the best possible experience for our customers and their horses.
Kinvarra has developed into a dominant force at “A” rated shows all over the country. Under Janet and Ryan’s training, Kinvarra clients have been extremely successful, claiming many championships on the national level with wins at WEF, Kentucky, Capital Challenge, among others. We are experts in all areas of horsemanship, allowing our clients to realize success in Hunters, Jumpers, Equitation, and Ponies. Our focus on the fundamentals, along with our sense of discipline, provides a truly enjoyable experience for our clients and their horses. Kinvarra’s clients are as dedicated to their passion as we are, and this is the foundation of our success.
Some Highlights of 2018.
Adeline Cordin-Blitstein and Vince - USHJA Nation Adult Jumper Champion (1.15m)
Denim Welhouse and Brownland's Last Call - USHJA Reserve National Pony Champion
Wynn Filipowski and Sophie's Charm - Devon Lead-in 4 and Under Champion
Alexis Ortiz and Little Paul - 10th Maclay Regionals (Region 5)
Alexis Ortiz and Little Paul - NCEA National Medal Champion
Alexis Ortiz and Little Paul - IHJA Medal Reserve Champion
Janet Sassmannshausen - Leading Jumper Trainer (USHJA National Horse Show)
Delaney Hoffman and Bravo - Hack Winner Junior Hunter Finals
Adeline Cordin-Blitstein and Vince - Reserve Champion Zone 5 Champions
Wynn Filipowski and Sophie's Charm - USHJA National Lead-in Champion
Our Future is Bright
Pleasure in the job
Puts perfection in the work.