'It's Part of My Every Day': What Daniel Bluman Is Most Excited About in the Sport

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his article was originally published on Nov 13, 2018 as part of NF.insider.

Developing the future champions of sport is no easy task, especially when it involves an animal that may be unpredictable and stubborn at times. But for Israeli show jumper Daniel Bluman, it’s an imperative part of the job and one that he’s passionate about.

The 28-year-old Colombian-born rider is no stranger to feeling the pressure when it matters most as he’s competed in two Olympic Games (2012 in London and 2016 in Rio de Janeiro) and three World Equestrian Games (2010 in Lexington, 2014 in Caen, and most recently the 2018 WEG in Tryon, N.C.). Originally riding for Colombia, Daniel decided in 2017 to change nationalities and ride under the Israeli flag to represent his Jewish heritage and his grandfather, a Holocaust survivor who spent three years in Auschwitz. With his top mounts Sancha Ls, Ladriano Z, and Apardi hitting their stride and becoming veterans of the sport, what will be next for the young show jumper?

Photo credit: Sportfot.

For most professional show jumpers, their rigorous schedules include attending horse shows every weekend, striving to win top prizes, and seeking to make a name for themselves in the sport. Although Daniel’s job entails traveling to big shows and competing at the highest stakes, he is devoted to developing young horses.

"I love it. You ask me and I say young horses are the most exciting part of the sport." 

“That’s how my career started and that’s how my career will go into the end of my days. Young horses are something I’m really passionate about, I really enjoy, and I’ve had the opportunity to produce them – it’s part of my every day,” Daniel explains. "I have the competition horses that are jumping the big international shows, and I have the young horses that are always forming, so it’s very fun.”

Back home at his stables in North Salem, N.Y., Daniel dedicates his free time to up-and-coming talents with his team at Bluman Equestrian. A recent purchase of young horses excites the Israeli rider as he hopes his future star will be in the lot.

Photo credit: Sportfot.

Wondering how a top eventer develops young prospects? Check out Piggy French's series on training the young event horse.

“Right now, actually, I’m in the process of purchasing a big group of youngsters of three, four, five-year-olds, plus the ones we already have. So we have about 30 horses in work,” Daniel says. “I really like it. I have a team for it and then we start picking the best ones that fit my ride, so I aim those to come to my string when they’re seven-year-olds, and then we have others that I look for riders that I believe are going to be the best for them.

“We have a big family – my brother, my cousins – so it’s good to have all those horses. I love it. You ask me and I say young horses are the most exciting part of the sport. The breeding, the bloodlines, all of this is something I truly love.”

There are many trains of thought on how to choose the most promising youngster and then the proper training that must go into its development, but Daniel makes it simple with two key attributes: patience and ambition.

“When you pick a young horse, when you buy a young horse, there’s something you like about it, otherwise you wouldn’t buy it. Try to focus on what you like and develop it. Young horses have many bad days, and some good days, and then a lot of bad days – you can’t try to fix them in one day, just let them grow up – let them become horses.

“The young horses themselves have taught me that – one day you can see one and you love it, then you don’t love it, then it’s my lover again, and you don’t love it – just be patient. Let them come to terms with their body, come to terms with their mind, and then see where they end up.”

Photo credit: Sportfot.

When searching for his next star in the ring, Daniel makes sure he sees potential and natural talent in the young horses. However, he also acknowledges that it’s important to take the proper amount of time to develop the horse with correct horsemanship techniques.

"Let them come to terms with their body, come to terms with their mind, and then see where they end up.”

“Of course, you have to try to find horses with quality, that’s very important – horses that try to avoid the rail. They need to learn from their mistakes, those little things that are very important,” Daniel explains. "But at the end of the day, it’s horsemanship. Just work with them, let their body start developing, work a lot on the shape of their jumps – since they’re young horses, try to teach them to jump in the proper shape so that when the jumps get bigger, they can.

“Be patient. If you look at all the horses that we’ve developed, there’s quite a few that have already made it to the grand prix level, we never really rushed them. My horses that are five-year-olds never jump too much, the six-year-olds are starting to jump a bit more but never make it to the championships at the end of the year because they’re not advanced enough for their age group. At seven-years-old, I start pushing them a little bit more, but still not yet at the level of most seven-year-olds.”

Photo credit: Sportfot.

Where are the best young horses in the world coming from? VDL Stud is one place, and it's becoming a household name.

Another key factor in Daniel’s training is the development of flatwork. Since jumping isn’t pressured at a young age, it’s important to use those years to work on dressage.

“I don’t push them, but I don’t let myself fall too much behind either. It’s fine, because at the end of the day, you have a lot of time. When they’re eight-year-olds I really start to push. My horses have from the beginning at age five worked on dressage. Their dressage is something very important to me,” Daniel says. “So although they’re not jumping big fences by the time they’re five, six, or seven, their dressage skills are very good – perhaps better than many of the ones out there.”

Daniel believes that there are countless youngsters out there who have what it takes to become not just a good horse, but a great horse. With the proper training and time to develop, they will have what it takes to become a champion.

“There are a lot of great horses out there that just need the training and patience. There’s many of them – way more than people can even imagine. There are a lot of good horses that could’ve been great but weren’t given the proper chance and proper training, so I always encourage people and say if you really love the game and really want to make it, buy a young horse.

“Be patient, learn from the best riders, educate yourself, watch the best riders in the world, try to mimic and learn, manage your horse, and then eventually you’ll be given a chance.”

Feature photo by Andreas Pollak.

Written by Editorial Staff

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