Reflecting on a lifetime spent with horses

Published 10:00 pm Friday, June 16, 2017

By upbringing and background, Helmuth von Bluecher was destined to forge a life of accomplishment and joy around horses.

Von Bluecher, his sister Alexandra and their parents (Karin and Max, the latter famous among horsemen in the U.S., and the author of “A Horseman’s Saga, Mecklenburg (Germany) to Minnesota),” emigrated to the U.S. from Germany in 1952, aided by the Marshall Plan.

They eventually landed in Illinois and settled in Minnesota, where Helmuth graduated from the University of Minnesota Veterinary School.

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Though the resident of Caroland Farms (near the North Pacolet River, outside Landrum) rode and still rides horses, he’s made a career of attending to legions of horses, some of those of note.

In California, he “had lots of good clients over the years, and worked on some really good horses,” including a couple of Kentucky Derby winners and a couple of Belmont Stakes winners, he said. Zenyatta, known as the “Queen of Racing,” also a big winner, was a horse that von Bluecher, his two partners and two associates worked with.

The team has worked at Santa Anita and other premier tracks in southern California.

Five years ago, Helmuth and his wife, Charlene, moved to the horse country on and around Caroland Farms. “It’s hard to beat the quiet here,” he remarked.

Their daughter, Tescha, has worked for several trainers in Florida. Now, she works for training sales, which involves the study of a horse’s pedigree and other capabilities.

“She does a really good job with it,” von Bluecher noted.

“My parents had a riding stable in Germany,” von Bluecher remembered. His mother studied veterinary science in Germany before World War II interrupted the family’s destiny.

“My grandfather,” said von Bluecher, “had four large farms in the Mecklenburg area of East Germany.

Max learned to ride in the military in Germany, Helmuth remarked.

In Minnesota, Max von Blue-
cher taught riding six days a week to children at the Wayzata Country Club. His teaching incorporated dressage, almost unknown in the U.S. in the late 1950s and early 1960s, outside the military.

Dressage, which in French means “training,” was the way the elder von Bluecher had learned to ride in the German military.

At Wayzata, Helmuth and his sister were really busy, allowed to use the golf course and tennis courts next to the club where their father ran the stable.

“I was exposed to a lot of wonderful things,” he remembers.

Charlene also had a famous father, Charles Whittingham, a trainer of famous race horses, including Sunday Silence, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 1989.

In this area, von Bluecher is a familiar sight on the local trails.

“I try to ride as often as I can—three or four days a week.” One of his horses, a thoroughbred from California, was a gift from a client.

You can ride two and one-half, three hours here, with no problem at all, he said. The North Pacolet Association keeps up many riding trails. Members of the Tryon Hounds also ride in the area.

“It’s been such a joy,” Helmuth von Bluecher said of his veterinary career. “You see so many cases. We were able to have a nice practice.”