Rider of the Week: Ilan Bluman

Ilan Bluman and Ladriano. Ph. ©Natalie Hewlitt for NoelleFloyd.com
Ilan Bluman and Ladriano. Ph. ©Natalie Hewlitt for NoelleFloyd.com

While a certain rider probably does come to mind at the mention of the Bluman family name, it is more than likely not Ilan. Daniel Bluman, younger cousin of Ilan, has become the best-known Bluman name for himself over the years, representing Colombia as an Olympic athlete in both 2012 and 2016.

However, after an incredible weekend at the Split Rock Jumping Tour in Lexington, Kentucky, it is Ilan Bluman who is the talk of the circuit. The hardworking rider who works alongside Daniel and other family members at Bluman Equestrian picked up a pair of great wins at the Bourbon International CSI3* Split Rock Jumping Tour over the weekend.

At at this show, the tables were turned, and Daniel happily congratulated his cousin while competing against him. Ilan, who came into the competition with no prior FEI ranking class wins under his belt, walked away with two.

Needless to say, the weekend belonged to Ilan.

The 29-year-old took his first win on Friday evening in the $40,000 Amalaya Investments CSI3* Grand Prix aboard the Blue Star Investments owned Ladriano Z (Lawito x Baloubet du Rouet). The pair were swift and careful, turning in the only double clear effort of 49 total competitors.

Ilan is congratulated by Split Rock owner Derek Braun. Ph. ©Natalie Hewlitt for NoelleFloyd.com

For Sunday’s $130,000 CSI3* event, Ilan came hoping to repeat his earlier success. This time, 33 riders would jump the long track designed by Oscar Soberon. A difficult course with a tight time allowed saw only seven riders advance into the jump off round.

Once again piloting Ladriano Z, Ilan joined his cousin Daniel as the only two riders to turn in double clear efforts. Ilan, however, rode the shortened course a full six seconds faster than Daniel, galloping away from the final fence with a fist pump in the air and an enthusiastic pat for the talented gelding.

“I am really, really excited,” Bluman said in a post-win press conference where he struggled to find the words to express his excitement. “I have been working toward this for five years now. This is only my second FEI ranking class win so I couldn’t be happier. The horse was amazing. I am just so happy!”

The partnership between Ilan and the talented bay Zangersheide gelding Ladriano Z has been two years in the making. “The horse is eight-years-old now. I got him when he was six,” he explained. “He was doing the 1.20 classes and we started doing him in some grand prix’s over the winter in Wellington. The horse is just amazing. He always wants to go clear. We’ll see where things go from here but I think he will be my grand prix horse for a while.”

The special bond between horse and rider was evident not only from their success in the ring, but from the praise and adoration Ilan showed his mount throughout the day. Adorned in ribbons and a classic white Split Rock cooler, Bluman took extra victory gallop laps around the ring to the cheers of the audience. His celebrations earned half of Split Rock’s signature “Fist Pump Award,” a $500 prize presented by EquiThrive to the rider with the most enthusiastic expression of their achievement. Ilan shared the award with Bryan Dietz.

As he exited the ring following his victory tour, Ilan pulled a peppermint out of his pocket and offered it to a patiently waiting Ladriano Z, a quiet moment that served as a reminder that beyond the pomp and circumstance of a huge win, it all begins and ends with a special bond between horse and rider.

Perhaps the only factor to top the excitement of Ilan’s win was the joy shared in it by his cousin Daniel.

“Ilan and I have been riding together our whole lives,” Daniel explained. “He is three years older than me but we have been riding together since I began. We have been working together through Bluman Equestrian for the past four or five years. This is so great for him. He had a great summer, but he had been waiting for a win like this to happen. I just came back from Europe and to be here together… to give him a little bit of motivation. That’s all he needed. He has a great horse and he is a great rider and he really showed it this week.”

And when Ilan was asked how it felt to come out on top over his cousin, he shook his head and laughed. “We both won! It’s really the same thing for me. If I win, he wins and if he wins, I win. We are equal.”

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