Daniel Bluman: How the Olympian Is Teaching the Next Generation While Thriving in the Show Ring

Bluman and Ladriano Z being honored at the prize-giving ceremony at the Hampton Classic 5* GP - Picture by Kind Media LLC

Daniel Bluman, born in Colombia and of Jewish descent, represents Israel in the world of show jumping. Currently ranked 15th on Jumping Longines FEI World Rankings, he is coming off a successful 2023 show season with multiple international Grand Prix victories as well as a Nations Cup win, which qualified team Israel for the 2024 Olympics in Paris, France.

After winning The Hampton Classic 5* Grand Prix in Bridgehampton, NY and the Saugerties 4* Grand Prix in Saugerties, NY, back to back in September, Daniel found time to share both his approach as a trainer as well as the structure of his training business with The Plaid Horse.

THE PLAID HORSE: How is Bluman Equestrian set up?

Daniel Bluman high-fiving protégé Summer Hill after winning the overall Hermes U25 series in Wellington 2023

BLUMAN: Bluman Equestrian is set on three pillars. 

1 – Sport: I became a professional to chase my dream of competing and to become as successful as I could at the highest level of the sport. I’m living out that dream and it continues to be my main motivation. I have a great team of grooms, managers, veterinarians, farriers, fitness trainers, partners, and mentors around me that share my passion for show jumping and have dedicated their lives to become world class professionals in their respective fields. For that I am very grateful—as we all know, it takes a village. 

2 – Training Program: I enjoy being able to share my expertise from competing at the top level of the sport and mentoring my students with the knowledge I’ve gained from some of the best horsemen in the industry and my own experience. Regardless of their level, our shared goal is to ensure students are enjoying the sport while reaching their objectives.

3 – Development of young horses: When I learned how to select and develop young horses, my professional career took off. I enjoy that process a lot and have seen it come to fruition with the horses at the top of my string that were all produced within Bluman Equestrian. We have facilities in both Belgium and Colombia with team members in place who focus exclusively on young horse development. 

How is your training business structured? 

Alexa Schwitzer and Daniel walking the course at the CSI 5*/1* in Dinard 2022 – Picture by Ashley Neuhof

I am very proud of our training program. We have a structure in place to teach riders from young beginners all the way up to the five-star level. We separated those levels into two training programs, Blue Star Equestrian and Bluman Equestrian.

Our program at Blue Star Equestrian, based in Long Island, NY and Wellington, FL, starts youngsters in the sport from ponies, to hunters and equitation, up to the lower jumper divisions. Pamela Polk and Katie Brown run the training program and have been doing an outstanding job. 

Our training program at Bluman Equestrian, I run with trainer Aline Domaingo, my brother Steven and my cousins, Mark and Ilan. We operate out of various facilities: North Salem, NY, from spring to fall, Belgium for shows in Europe, and winters at our two facilities in Palm Beach Point and Wellington, FL. Ilan bases out of Florida all year round and hence enables clients who live in Florida to ride and compete during all seasons.

The Bluman Equestrian training program focuses on jumpers, helping our clients reach their goals by designing a strategy and tailoring a plan to fit their individual needs and characteristics. We utilize our global network to match them with suitable horses and guide them toward becoming not only better riders and competitors, but also true horsemen.

“Regardless of their level, our shared goal is to ensure students are enjoying the sport while reaching their objectives.” —Daniel Bluman

You have had a very successful year and have brought young riders to a considerable level. How do you balance your own sport and training students?

Bluman and Ladriano Z being honoured at the prize-giving ceremony at the Hampton Classic for winning the 5* Grand Prix – Picture by Kind Media LLC

With an intense international show schedule and not much time in between, I have a great team of professionals that work with me to develop young riders. Aline is my right hand in the day-to-day training roles for our clients. She is a fantastic coach with an extensive equestrian background who enjoys working with clients in a well-established routine to meet objectives we set together, which ensures a show schedule tailored for students all year around and allows me to follow my own schedule but being in constant communication about what is going on. 

Steven and Mark train some of our clients as well, but are mainly involved in the development of our young, up-and-coming horses. 

Together with Aline and my family, we have created a completely integrated program. We all have our roles but work together as a team, stepping in and out as needed. Our team, as well as the sport, continues to grow and get better all the time. I get the opportunity to go to the best events in the world and compete against the best riders in the sport, which keeps me constantly learning and evolving. That experience and insight I share with our program at Bluman Equestrian, offering everyone to benefit from it. 

What do you think are important things to consider for young people who want to make it big in the sport?

Hallie Grimes and Domaingo recapping after a class at WEF – Picture by Ashley Neuhof

Train at the best program you can get access to, a program with a track record and a dedicated group of professionals that want the best for you and enjoy doing what they do. 

To anyone young, I advise them to focus on the basics and the day-to-day work with your horses. Make intermediate, attainable goals, which will keep major frustrations at bay and help to envision the long term goals becoming a reality. As with anything, it takes many hours and a lot of resilience and patience to reach any level of success in show jumping.

International show jumping elite has lately been voicing their concern about the younger generation of our sport focusing more on topics like mental health and fitness over the component of the horse and horsemanship. What are your thoughts on that for equestrian students in America?

Bluman Equestrian trainer Aline Domaingo training Clarissa LoCascio at Wellington 2023 – Picture by Kaitlyn Miller Photography

I personally think all three are equally important. I think very often the component of horsemanship of the average U.S. student might be less extensive than in Europe, due to the fact that most American barns offer the horsemanship for you, from the feeding program to the exercise and training program, to how the horse’s health is managed. Usually, students show up to ride and train and might not see what’s going on behind the scenes as ultimately, they are not responsible for it. However, I think anybody who is interested and willing to learn can always create the opportunity to do so.

I personally work with an equestrian fitness trainer, a program called Rider Balance, which I feel helps my riding a lot and I can only recommend fitness training off the horse additionally to riding. 

Mental health is also very important to me, to handle nerves and to perform under pressure, whether that pressure is coming from yourself or externally, like in Nations Cups or Championships can be more impacting on some than others. I used to suffer from anxiety and nerves a lot.

Do you think having a solid Equitation career as a junior is advantageous to being successful in show jumping later on?

Liam Gaspar and Domaingo after Liam won the Children’s Classic, Champion of that division and a Style award at Princeton

Growing up in Colombia, I didn’t know equitation. The way to start competing was, and still is, in the low-level jumper division, which is how I began. From a very young age, I spent a lot of time riding, learning and watching videos of high-level sport. Ultimately, I think practice makes perfect. 

The junior U.S. Equitation competitions are a good tool for creating a strong base as kids practice round after round to develop a feeling for striding, position, track and pace.

Daniel’s Accomplishments

As of press time and according to USEF, Bluman has won $13,744,303 in prize money. Here’s some 2023 highlights:

With Ladriano Z 

• Winner, $425,000 CSI5* Wellington Equestrian Realty Grand Prix, Winter Equestrian Festival 9

• Winner, Hampton Classic Grand Prix

• Nations Cup victory to help Israel qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics

With GEMMA W 

• Winner, World Cup in Toronto 

• 2nd, World Cup in Lexington 

• Winner, $75,900 CND MLSJ IND Competition, American Gold Cup

• Winner, $300,000 FEI CSI4* Grand Prix, HITS on the Hudson VIII

• Winner, $425,000 Longines HC Grand Prix-CSI5*, The Hampton Classic

• Winner, $146,000 CSI 5* Adequate WEF Challenge Round 12, Winter Equestrian Festival 12

With Cachemire de Braize 

• Winner, $76,000 CND Grand Prix 1.45 m, American Gold Cup

• Winner, $30,000 Grand Prix of Princeton, Princeton Summer Welcome

• Winner, $38,700 1.45 m, Old Salem Farm May II

Winner, $77,300 FEI 1.45 m Grand Prix, TerraNova Hunter Jumper 1

• Winner, $38,700 1.45 m Welcome, Split Rock Sarasota 

With Lady Applaus

• Winner, $200 7 Year old Jumper, HITS on the Hudson VIII

With Corbie V.V. 

• 2nd, $145,100 FEI CSI 3* Grand Prix, Traverse City Spring Horse Show

• 2nd, $30,000 Grand Prix of Princeton, Princeton Summer Welcome • 5th, $77,300 Grand Prix CSI 2* FEI, Great Lakes Equestrian Festival VI