Some of the best dressage riders across the country are busy competing at USDF dressage regionals to qualify for the national championship in Lexington, Kentucky this November, and the Chronicle is highlighting some cool champs from the various regionals like Casey Blum, who won the adult amateur second level championship at the Great American/USDF Region 4 championship in Cumming, Iowa on Sept. 28-Oct. 1.
Blum and Eschaton won on a 69.63 percent, marking Blum’s first victory at regionals and her first time qualifying for the national championship. She has owned her 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood Eschaton (Sir Sinclair—Melisande, Frostwind) since he was a yearling, and has accumulated her fair share of hilarious young horse anecdotes from their time together!
COTH: So the first thing that pops up on Google when I search for you and your horse is this Twitter post about him losing a fight to a fence. What happened there?
Blum: Oh gosh, that was a long time ago, probably like three years ago now? He got loose one day when I was picking out his feet and he ran through a barbed wire fence!
COTH: Oh baby horses. How did you end up finding Eschaton?
Blum: I’ve had him since he was just a baby. I ride at Providence Farm with Jami Kment, and I was looking for a new horse and her parents Linda and Mike Smith breed Sir Sinclair babies. They had one coming up for sale and he was the cutest and I had to buy him.
So I got him when I was 15, I was in high school, and I broke him with the help of Jami. He was a really good youngster but he was huge—he’s 17.3 now! I had a blast bringing him along and I think just having him for that long and going through all the hard work with him when he was young and all the patience and lunge lessons and things like learning how to put his boots on, all of that is definitely why I’m so close with him today and why we have such a great bond.
COTH: Was putting boots on him a bit of an adventure?
Blum: Oh yeah, we put them on the first time and he was pretty good, he walked kind of funny but he was good, but we didn’t think about the Velcro and how the noise would scare him when we took them off! So that was an experience to try and get the boots off—he was just leaping around.
COTH: You were 15 when you got him—what made you want to buy a yearling?
Blum: I had already had a horse who was made; she knew everything. So at that point I wanted to be able to teach a horse something and have that for myself. There is nothing that’s really comparable to that, when you get a horse that has everything already on it it’s very different.
It’s very, very gratifying to finally get that thing you’ve been working on. When he was a baby there were days where I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I am never going to be able to do a circle, I won’t, I literally will never be able to do one,’ and then a couple months later you’re doing the circle! It’s just the littlest things make you so happy.
COTH: How did you first get into riding?
Blum: I first started when I was 10 years old, I think I got four lessons one per week for a month as a birthday present from my dad. Little did he know that his birthday present turned into the next 12 years of more gifts, the gift that kept on giving!
I started out in dressage, but I started out taking lessons on a school horse and spending all Saturday at the barn with a bunch of other girls my age, and that’s kind of where you truly learn to love horses. You spend all day cleaning their stalls and buckets and riding for only 15 minutes and saying “This is great!”
COTH: Who was the made horse you had before Eschaton?
Blum: Her show name was Fendi, and actually she just passed away [recently] so it was kind of bittersweet. She taught so many people how to ride and was so great. She passed away the day after we got back from regionals, and it was almost kind of like she was saying “OK, I can move on, you guys did your thing and I taught you well so I can go.”
COTH: What’s next for you and Eschaton, have you given a lot of thought to future goals?
Blum: We’re just really looking forward to nationals, that was kind of one of my biggest dreams so it was a dream come true moment to win and qualify really.
Eschaton as a horse has kind of helped me to become the person I am today because I’ve spent all my hours with him versus going and hanging out with friends and all of that kind of stuff. Friday nights are spent at the barn getting ready for shows and all that stuff. I am so thankful for my mom and dad and my trainer Jami and my barn family for supporting me all of these years because I could not do it without them.
Like this story? We’re featuring lots of GAIG/USEF Regional winners on www.coth.com—including a neurosurgeon amateur’s bittersweet win, how North Forks Cardi helped his amateur rider overcome nerves, and more. Read about them all!