If you look at HSH Blake’s competition record, it won’t take you long to understand why Caroline Martin is dreaming big with the7-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding. Owned in partnership by Caroline Martin, Sherrie Martin and Molly Hoff, HSH Blake (Tolan R x Doughiska Lass) has already seen much success in his short career, collecting the championship title at the 2020 Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse East Coast 5-Year-Old Championship, several top 2 finishes at the CCI2* level and multiple top 10 finishes at the CCI3* level since stepping up this year. To cap off a successful 2022 season, much of which was spent in Europe with Martin under the tutelage of British Olympian Pippa Funnell, HSH Blake finished in 10th place at the FEI WBFSH Eventing World Breeding 7-Year-Old Championship at Mondial du Lion in Le Lion d’Angers, France, thanks in part to the financial assistance received from The Holekamp/Turner Grant.
Since joining Martin’s string during the pandemic in 2020, HSH Blake has quickly become a barn favorite. Originally sourced by Kelly Hutchinson as sale prospect, Martin explained how she fell in love with the quirky gelding, noting that “he is such a special horse, and I just love bragging about him!” Over the years, HSH Blake has picked up many nicknames, including “Princess Blake” for his love of attention and clear understanding of his own beauty, and “House Cat” for a particularly unique routine he started during the off-season last year. “It’s a funny story, last year, we would call him “house cat” because he refused to stay in the field on his winter vacation,” said Martin. “He would just jump out of the field everyday and sleep in my front lawn. Every single night! We would wake up and say ‘Oh look, there’s Blake, just laying out in the front lawn!” Luckily, since returning from Europe this winter, Blake has decided to stay in his field after becoming best friends with his travel partner, HSH Connor, another YEH graduate who won the 2020 Dutta Corp USEA Young Event Horse East Coast 4-Year-Old Championship and competed at the FEI WBFSH Eventing World Breeding Championships this fall, winning reserve champion in the 6-year-old division.
When Blake is at an event, he knows it’s his time to shine and nothing can stop him from putting his best foot forward. However, as much of a professional as he is at competitions, “at home, he’s a little bit annoying to ride, because everything is spooky and he doesn’t want to work that hard,” Martin noted. “He doesn’t like working at home because he likes being in front of spectators. You get him to a show and he’s a machine. He’s the easiest horse to ride at a show and doesn’t spook at one thing! He loves to compete, but he just hates being at home and doing everyday stuff.”
It is this attitude that came in handy when the pair encounter the spectacular atmosphere at Mondial du Lion. “At Lion with 40,000 spectators, he didn’t spook once! The more people, the better for him. I never get nervous with him in crowds, even in dressage he doesn’t care. There can be a million cameras, a wind gust could come through and wipe of the whole arena, and he wouldn’t even flinch an ear.”
Blake and Martin were lucky to be surrounded by an incredible group of their supporters at Mondial du Lion. Not only did Martin’s family make the trip, including her mother Sherrie Martin and fiancé Deniz Pamukcu, but mentor Pippa Funnell, Blake’s owner Molly Hoff and her daughter Lizzie, friend and colleague Lee Maher, and Kelly Hutchinson also came to cheer the pair on. HSH Blake’s fan club ended up being over 15 people strong, and Martin credited the immense support from these individuals as part of the reason for her success at the championships.
When asked what the future looks like for this talented horse, Martin hinted that her dream would be to have HSH Blake picked to represent the United States at the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile. “He is such a tough horse, and (this year) it was great to see that he could handle anything you through at him. For me, that is what makes him a championships horse.”
About The Holekamp/Turner Grant
Founded in 2015 by Timothy and Cheryl Holekamp of New Spring Farm and Christine and T.J. Turner of Indian Creek Farm, the Holekamp/Turner Grant provides a USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) Championship competitor with the opportunity to represent the United States at the FEI Eventing World Breeding Championships in the 7-year-old CCIYH3*-L Championship at Mondial du Lion in Le Lion d’Angers, France. With the sole purpose of paving a clear pathway for U.S. team horses to progress in the sport of eventing, recipients who are North American bred will be awarded the full cash grant of $17,500, while imported horses are awarded $8,000. Additionally, The Dutta Corp. offers a prize to the Holekamp/Turner Grant recipient, consisting of a round trip flight from the Eastern United States to Europe.
About the Young Event Horse Program
The Young Event Horse (YEH) Program was first established in 2004 as an eventing talent search. Much like similar programs in Europe, the YEH program was designed to identify young horses aged four and five, that possess the talent and disposition to, with proper training, excel at the uppermost levels of the sport. The ultimate goal of the program is to distinguish horses with the potential to compete at the four- and five-star levels, but many fine horses that excel at the lower levels are also showcased by the program.
The YEH program provides an opportunity for breeders and owners to exhibit the potential of their young horses while encouraging the breeding and development of top event horses for the future. The program rewards horses who are educated and prepared in a correct and progressive manner. At qualifying events, youngsters complete a dressage test and a jumping/galloping/general impression phase. At Championships, young horses are also evaluated on their conformation in addition to the dressage test and jumping/galloping/general impression phase. Click here to learn more about the Young Event Horse Program.
The USEA would like to thank Bates Saddles, SmartPak, Standlee, Parker Equine Insurance, Capital Square, Kerrits, and The Jockey Club for sponsoring the Young Event Horse Program. Additionally, the USEA would like to thank The Dutta Corp., Title Sponsor of the Young Event Horse Championships.
The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is pleased to announce the addition of the Modified Rider division beginning at the 2023 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC), presented by Nutrena Feeds. The USEA AEC will move back to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky August 29–September 3, 2023.
Are you interested in competing in the sport of eventing but aren’t quite sure how to get started? Do you have a horse that is looking for a new career? Consider participating in a USEA New Event Horse (NEH) competition in 2023! The USEA NEH Program was created to be an introduction to the sport of eventing for both horse and rider, and the 2023 NEH Calendar is now available here.
Will Coleman had a huge 2022 with his string of horses, including a team silver medal at the FEI World Eventing Championship in Italy on Off The Record and top four-star placings with Chin Tonic HS, but it was Dondante whose consistency paid off to earn the Standlee Premium Western Forage USEA Horse of the Year title.
Julie Murray has loved horses since she could breathe, so when her daughters showed an interest in Pony Club and then eventing, she was thrilled to go along for the ride.
Murray started volunteering at the Fallbrook Pony Club near her home in Fallbrook, California, serving as an intermediate district commissioner.