Not everyone can be a rising star in the prestigious sport of Eventing at 15 years old, but Illinois native Kaylee Blazeniak is living that dream with Caballo Oscuro, better known as ‘Zi’. Along with Zi, Kaylee owns two other horses: her childhood best friend, Cowboy, and her sale project, Enzo. She spends six or seven days a week riding her own three horses as well as her trainers’ horses.
Kaylee hasn’t had an easy time getting herself to where she is now though. She started competing at age nine with her pony Cowboy, who she trained herself, in Hunter/Jumpers. She was 12 when he was retired due to being diagnosed with Navicular Syndrome, that’s when Zi came into her life. He was supposed to be her grandmother’s horse but ended up being too dangerous. Kaylee made the decision to ride Zi until he was sold, but he wouldn’t sell.
She put every ounce of her time and energy into working on helping him understand the questions he was being asked instead of just shutting down. Between the winter of 2016 and the fall of 2017, they attended a couple shows and events together, never coming home with pleasing results. The winter of 2017 brought lots of hard work, Kaylee and Zi were finally starting to click. In an interview with Kaylee, she says, “I felt as if the work was paying off. I started to love him.”
Spring of 2018 brought many steps back though. Zi began stopping again and refused to jump, but Kaylee decided to give him one last chance at Fox River Valley HT. Something switched in Zi, maybe he knew that that was his last chance, who knows. At Fox River Valley they came in fourth place in the novice division, leaving Kaylee prouder than ever before. Things were starting to look up again.
A few short months after that, Zi and Kaylee came in fourth again at Champainge Run. A month later, they won the Novice division at Cobblestone HT. Shortly after, they went to Sundance Farm HT where they finished fourth. Their last event of 2018 was at Silverwood Farms. It was their first training level debut and they came in second. Kaylee was over the moon with Zi, he was finally becoming the horse she knew he could be.
Together, Zi and Kaylee qualified for 2019 American Eventing Championships and ended up coming home with both a silver and a bronze medal. This put Kaylee as one of the top Novice young event riders in Area IV. Kaylee says, “From my 2 years of owning Zi I have learned so much about life. He is so much more special to me than the ribbons won and the titles we have to our names. He is my heart horse and my partner of a lifetime…”
In the future, Kaylee hopes to keep eventing Zi and to make 2019 a full year of at Training level. She sees a future with horses and can’t wait for her incredible journey with her supportive parents & top-notch trainers to continue.