Jan 12, 2023

From Failed Dressage Horse To Novice Packer: 100 Horse Trials and Counting With Landtino S

By Lindsay Berreth - USEA Staff
Photo by Xpress Foto, courtesy of Madeline Bletzacker.

Madeline Bletzacker wasn’t really looking for a horse in 2008 when she came across Landtino S at a local farm near her home in Ohio.

The Danish Warmblood gelding (Solos Lantinus x Chess S) had been imported from Europe as a dressage horse when he was 5 and decided he didn’t like dressage.

“He would rear, buck, spin and was very angry. He was real, real sour about dressage,” Bletzacker recalled. “He was turned out, and then a friend of mine was a school student of the owner and suggested I come try him.”

Bletzacker’s other horse had just bowed a tendon and was resting, so she decided to take a chance on “Pumpkin” and bought him at a steal. A few weeks after she brought him home, Bletzacker took the gelding to a local hunter show, and he jumped around a 2’6” course with ease, impressing even his former owner who’d stopped by the show.

“He loved it,” said Bletzacker. “He wasn’t sour at all.”

The pair soon started eventing at local starter horse trials and competed in their first USEA-recognized event at Beginner Novice in 2009 at the Kentucky Horse Park. Since then, they’ve started at 129 recognized events, including four USEA American Eventing Championship completions at Novice and being named the 2014 USEA Novice Horse of the Year.

While Pumpkin is often in the shadow of his stablemate, Drummer Boy, who won the Waredaca Novice Three-Day (Laytonsville, Maryland) in 2022 and usually scores above him in dressage, he’s been a solid partner for Bletzacker for 14 years, jumping clear on cross-country in all but three starts.

Photo by GRC Photo, courtesy of Madeline Bletzacker.

“He’s a sweet horse,” said Bletzacker. “He knows how to bow; he hugs, he kisses. He’s just a really sweet guy. He’s been real fun to ride cross-country. I don’t worry about [things like ditches.]”

Bletzacker, 66, Galena, Ohio, doesn’t ride with a trainer, but she’s an experienced horsewoman.

“I rode a lot of horses when I was growing up,” she said. "I started breaking yearlings for a famous race horse place [Darby Dan Farm in Ohio] when I was 17, then I went onto the track in my 20s and rode probably 15 horses every day. Most of them were race horses, but then I would end up with Thoroughbreds people were dumping, and I’d turn them into hunters or whatever. Then I started eventing with some of them.”

She worked in Kentucky and Ohio for 20 years as a licensed trainer and enjoyed breaking, galloping and grooming at tracks like River Downs and Turfway.

After meeting her husband, Karl Bletzacker, she moved back to her home state of Ohio, bought a farm and rehabbed race horses.

Now she’s enjoying competing with her husband, who helps her at competitions when he’s not riding.

Madeline Bletzacker and Landtino S. Xpress Foto, courtesy of Madeline Bletzacker

Madeline says the key to keeping Pumpkin happy at age 23 is lots of riding through the woods and in her jumping fields and as little time as possible in a dressage saddle.

With the help of both horses, she won the 2022 USEA Novice Master Rider and Novice Master Amateur rider of the year awards. Pumpkin’s 2022 highlight was second place behind Drummer Boy at the Waredaca Novice Three-Day.

“I was so proud of him at this last show,” she said. “He led the 44 horses until my other horse went and ended up second. I thought, gosh he’s 22, and he did a three-day. I was only 2 seconds from getting speed faults on the cross-country. He was just having so much fun. I think that’s good that at his age he can still be sound and still be excited about it, because when I first got him, he wasn’t very happy.”

With so many competitions under their belts, it’s hard for Madeline to pick a favorite competition, but the 2021 Jump Start Horse Trials at the Kentucky Horse Park stands out.

“I had stadium jumping left, and there only about four of us left to go,” she recalled. “It was a driving rainstorm, pouring so you could hardly see, and he went clean in that stadium, and I was like, oh my gosh, I can’t believe he did that. If I hadn’t been in first, I probably would have scratched!”

Madeline plans to compete Pumpkin again in 2023 for as long as he’s feeling good. “I would definitely like to see him do well at the AEC in Kentucky this year,” she said.

Jun 18, 2024 Young Event Horse

USEA Announces 2024 YEH Championships Venues, Judges, and Entry Process

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Jun 17, 2024 Eventing News

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Jun 17, 2024 Eventing News

Get Ready for the Maryland International and USEF Eventing Young Rider Championship

The countdown to the Maryland International & Horse Trials hosted at Loch Moy Farm in Adamstown, Maryland, on July 5-7 has begun. With competition for all FEI divisions from CCI1* to CCI4*-S, as well as national levels Training through Advanced, local riders will be able to compete alongside the best of the best.

Jun 17, 2024

Fast Facts: EA21 Regional Clinics

One of the best parts of summer is the return of the USEA Emerging Athletes U21 Program (EA21) Regional Clinics! This will be the third year that the USEA is offering these two-day educational sessions for the chosen applicants. There are five clinics taking place across the U.S. over the course of the summer. A USEA Eventing Coaches Program (ECP) certified instructor will guide 12 hand-selected applicants at each clinic.

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