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From youngster to international Grand Prix horse: DSP Alice

Tuesday, 02 June 2020
From youngster to international Grand Prix horse

Photo © World of Showjumping by Jenny Abrahamsson
"When I first saw Alice, it was love at first sight," Simone Blum tells. Photo © World of Showjumping by Jenny Abrahamsson.

 

Text © World of Showjumping

 


 

In the late summer of 2017, DSP Alice was the name on everybody’s lips. The chestnut mare was ten, and had started to make her presence known on the international showjumping scene with Simone Blum in the saddle – winning five-star classes in Gothenburg, Lausanne and Stuttgart. The year after, following a strong summer season, the pair jumped to global fame when winning individual gold and team bronze at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon – the mare making four days of tough competition look like a walk in the park. Last year, the couple crowned yet another impressive season with team silver at the European Championships in Rotterdam.

Was Alice always destined for stardom though? World of Showjumping speaks with Alice’s former rider Steffen Buchheim, as well as Hansi and Simone Blum, about the now 13-year-old mare’s journey to the top.

“I got Alice to ride when she was 4-years-old and had her until she was sold to Simone and Hansi Blum at the beginning of her 7th year,” Steffen Buchheim tells.  “When I got Alice, she was very sensitive and also very sceptical – especially to men, me included. Any new person would be met with scepticism, and while she liked some people faster than others there were some she never accepted at all. In my case, once I got to know her all was good – luckily,” Buchheim smiles.

For the first two years that Buchheim rode Alice, her owner Kai Uwe Fricke would drive the mare to him a couple of times a week. “I also did a few shows with her in the spring when she was four and over the summer she went out on the field. Then I started to ride her again after the summer and showed her in the autumn and spring before she got another break in the field. As a 6-year-old she moved permanently to my stable,” Buchheim tells.

Photo © World of Showjumping by Jenny Abrahamsson
"Alice has always been full of temperament and even though she has been challenging to ride, she always wanted to do a good job in the ring," Simone Blum tells. Photo © World of Showjumping by Jenny Abrahamsson.

“Alice was spooky to ride, never on the jump itself but to everything around,” Buchheim continues. “While her jump was something really special, it was not always so easy to get to them. Alice would notice absolutely everything on her way, which made her quite wobbly to sit on. This made her rather difficult to ride, but on the fence itself she was always there with you. As a young horse, she had the tendency to over-jump a lot and would more often than not be one meter higher than the fences, so you really had to make sure to be steady in the saddle,” Buchheim laughs. “It got better with time and experience though, but she never wanted to make a mistake. Actually, she never made a fault on her own – if we ever got one it was my mistake.”

“The most difficult part with Alice was to get her to relax,” Buchheim tells. “As she noticed everything around her, she got very easily tense so I had to work on getting her to relax and keep her nerves under control. The only way to do that was to give her time.”

At the beginning of year when she turned seven, Alice won a 1.40m class straight away and after that it went fast. “Simone’s husband Hansi was here to try her and thought it could work. Shortly after I drove with Alice to Simone and the two of them clicked straight away. The day after she passed the vet-check, and that was it,” Buchheim tells.

Buchheim really enjoys watching Alice and Simone in action. “I had several horses with quality, but Alice was really something special,” he says. “However, I wouldn’t have guessed back then that she would end up as World Champion!”

Photo © World of Showjumping by Jenny Abrahamsson
"I wouldn’t have guessed back then that she would end up as World Champion!” Alice’s former rider Steffen Buchheim tells. Photo © World of Showjumping by Jenny Abrahamsson.

Simone Blum confirms Buchheim’s story about Alice not being the easiest. “Alice’s breeder has told me that she was untouchable as a foal – so he was happy when she was sold! She was also difficult as a young horse, she was just fighting against people – she did not have a good opinion about human beings,” she tells. “Luckily, she ended up with Steffen and he managed to win her heart over.”

Simone’s husband Hansi Blum got to know about Alice through a friend. “Hansi went to try Alice. After, he sent me a message saying ’I think I found you a horse – a mare with a lot of blood, and very careful’. When I first saw Alice, it was love at first sight! She came out of the trailer, I looked into her eyes and I remember thinking, ’what a beautiful mare’. She was a bit nervous, but the feeling on her was really good. I love bloody horses and she is always going. I could also feel the scope in her. Sometimes with young horses, you cannot tell – with Alice, I knew straight away that she could jump anything in the world,” Simone Blum recalls.

“We bought Alice at a time when I mostly was competing at national level and did some international two- and three-star shows. We simply wanted to have a good young horse in our team,” Simone says. “When Alice was 8, she was still so careful and always jumping so high that it was enough for her to do the 1.40-1.45m classes. We had the time though, and when she turned 9, we did the German Championship for women and we won – it was the first time she jumped a bit bigger classes,” Simone tells. “We grew together, and when she was 10, she felt ready to jump bigger. However, for us in Germany, it is not so easy to get a chance to ride at the bigger shows,” Simone explains. “That year, Otto (Becker) saw Alice in Mannheim and I think – for him too – it was love at first sight. He believed in her straight away. After that I was able to do the open German Championship, and without jumping too many big classes Alice took me directly to five-star level. Alice has always been full of temperament and even though she has been challenging to ride, she always wanted to do a good job in the ring," Simone Blum closes off. 

 

No reproduction without written permission, copyright © World of Showjumping

 

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