In Memory of Stephen Blauner

Steve Blauner pats Bonito after his dressage test at Plantation Field 2019. Amber Heintzberger photo.

I first met Steve Blauner in about 2009. I was racing around the countryside teaching clinics in upstate New York and I kept meeting this bloke named Steve and his horse Joey. Steve and Joey were the ultimate match: Steve pointed Joey at anything that looked like a jump, and Joey would always find a way to jump it. They didn’t have much style, but they got the job done. They were awesome together. Usually at these clinics there was a Saturday night dinner and I would always find myself finishing the night having a drink with Steve. Little did I know at that time that this guy would ultimately change my life and jump start my career.

Nancy Hathaway and Steve Blauner at the 2019 Millbrook Horse Trials Sunday Luncheon. Photo: Amber Heintzberger

Throughout my years in America, there has been one thing that is true about Steve. He absolutely loved helping out the underdog that needed a leg up. In 2010, Steve saw something in my riding and decided to back me. When Steve came up with an idea, he followed through with it. He has always been a guy that has put his money where his mouth is.

Not only did he back me, he rallied up all of his New York friends and encouraged them to get involved with me. It has been an amazing run of horses over the last few years. Steve bankrolled all of the syndicates and trusted me to pay him back. He also was the first to jump into a young horse without even seeing a video. He was the ultimate supporter. Over the years he has been behind and part of:

Neville Bardos – WEG Kentucky 2010

Otis Barbotiere – London Olympics 2012

Trading Aces – WEG Normandy 2014

Shamwari – WEG Normandy 2014

Pancho Villa – Pan Am Toronto 2015

Blackfoot Mystery – Rio Olympics 2016

Master Frisky – Kentucky 2015

Bonito- Bromont 2017

Ray Price – Bromont 2019

Long Island T – Fair Hill 2018

Luke 140

Carlsberg

Mr. Mitchell

Steve has always been one of these characters that really didn’t worry what anyone else thought of him. I loved him for that. I remember him turning up to fancy cocktail parties in old jeans, leaving his luggage in a booked out hotel room to make sure he had another night and buying horses at Irish auctions after umpteen Carlsbergs. He was larger than life.

Steve at Fair Hill in 2018. Photo: Amber Heintzberger

In the last five years Steve was on an absolute mission to make the next generation of American Eventing a force to be reckoned with. After clashing with the USEF and USEA, Steve didn’t give up on his idea. He absolutely bank rolled his own program to help source Under 25 riders who had talent, give them coaching and financial support, and helping take them to the next level. Steve had no time for politics, or concern for upsetting people. He was an absolute renegade. His idea and program really helped the next generation of riders. It was so much of a success, the USEF begged to be part of his program. This was just one example of Steve being Steve.

I will never be able to repay what Steve did to help me get started. I have often wondered where I would be if he didn’t believe in me all those years ago. He was a great example of a real character that had a heart of gold. I am going to miss all of the other owners rolling their eyes when Steve was saying something inappropriate, or when he was offending someone without even knowing. I am going to miss his wonderful partner Kenny scolding Steve when he was being rude. Steve didn’t care. He just loved life and love helping out the ‘up and comers’. I am truly going to miss having a grapefruit and vodka (his favorite drink) with him after the showjumping at Kentucky this year. He was a great guy that will truly be missed.

-Boyd Martin

 

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