“Alice has often pushed me to the brink of despair”: Simone Blum bids farewell to “miracle mare” Alice
There are horses that a rider encounters only once in a lifetime. The chemistry is perfect, as is the sporting success. For Simone Blum and her horse Alice, it was a match made in heaven. Now, the chestnut mare will be ceremoniously bid farewell at the CHIO in Aachen.
Strictly speaking, it’s all Hansi Blum’s fault, as he was the one who discovered Alice. He had a strong feeling that the chestnut mare and his wife Simone would be a perfect fit. “I’ve found your horse!” he wrote in a text message to his wife back in 2014. “Chestnut mare, temperamental, with a lot of potential, a real firecracker.” And then Alice and Simone Blum met, “Alice and I, it was love at first sight,” writes Blum on her website. “She was wild, cheeky, and boundless – and we fell in love with each other instantly.”
It’s what Blum calls a “once in a lifetime horse.” A horse that perfectly matches one’s expectations and desires, forming a symbiotic relationship with the rider that is rarely encountered. A dream horse, “my heart horse. Because she is so special, we have a unique connection,” says Blum.
A Unique Character
Yet, Alice has always been a challenge – difficult, spirited, and full of energy. The chemistry is there, but dedication and patience are required from Blum, who often found herself on the brink of despair because of Alice’s boundless energy. “Alice has pushed me to the brink of despair many times. She has so much energy that is hard to control,” Blum said in an interview with “spring-reiter.” She would spend hours on Alice, trying to calm her down.
Blum reveals that her husband, who is also her coach, played a significant role in the special partnership between her and the horse. “He always managed to calm us both down, so we could come together.” One must find a way for the horse’s energy to work for oneself, says Blum, “and eventually, she mastered it to perfection. This horse always delivered. There was hardly a Grand Prix where the horse was not good.” And then there was the famous mango for “Elsi,” Alice’s nickname, or “Else” when she was being moody.
Success came quickly after their first meeting, and by 2016, the duo was thriving. They won the title in the separate women’s competition at the German Championships in Balve, and in 2017, they became German champions in the men’s competition. Their rise was rapid, culminating in the World Championship title in 2018 in Omaha, where they also won a team bronze. The pair had reached the pinnacle of the sport, and Alice was regarded as one of the world’s best showjumpers, a “miracle mare.”
“The special partnership” was the secret to their success, emphasizes Blum. “We simply knew each other very well and could always rely on each other 100%. Alice’s attitude and fighting spirit were unique, even though she was very special and difficult. I had to adjust myself to her. I believe my riding style was a perfect match for her.”
No Longer the Same
However, at the 2019 European Championships in Rotterdam, although the duo won a team silver, Alice suffered a leg injury and never regained her former form. That is why, at the age of 16, she will be ceremoniously retired from the sport at the CHIO in Aachen on Thursday. It will be an emotional moment when Blum and Alice take one final lap together in front of a large audience between the rounds of the Nations Cup.
“I wouldn’t be where I am now without Alice,” says Blum, who chose Aachen for the farewell for a good reason. “The atmosphere in Aachen is unique,” she says. “I’m very excited that Alice will have the chance to be celebrated by her favorite audience there.”
It wasn’t an easy decision to take Alice out of competition, but it was essentially the only option.
“At the beginning of the year, Blum was still competing with Alice at tournaments, and she really enjoyed it,” says the 34-year-old. “But when jumping, I felt that it wasn’t 100 percent anymore. There was something holding her back from returning to top-level competition.”
That’s why Blum now hopes that Alice, on their own horse farm, will “pass on some of her brilliance to her offspring” through breeding. However, a successor may already be on the horizon. Ciara is Blum’s nine-year-old up-and-coming hopeful, with whom she recently finished sixth at the German Championships.
“You never know where it will lead in the end. I never knew that with Alice, and maybe that was also the beauty of it,” says Blum, who herself wants to return to top-level competition, ride in another championship for Germany, and dreams of competing in the Olympics. By 2028, Ciara will be in her prime. “Ciara simply shows me that it would be possible with her,” says Blum. And, to add to the excitement, Ciara was also discovered by her husband, Hansi. Undoubtedly, a good omen.