This photo was taken following the individual open over fences class at 2002 IHSA Nationals. From left to right are former Cazenovia College rider Bryan Bradley, Missy Starr of Cazenovia College, Naomi Blumenthal (the Cazenovia Head Coach at the time) and IHSA Founder Bob Cacchione. Starr had just won the individual open over fences to become the sixth Cazenovia hunter seat rider to win either an individual class or Cacchione Class at an IHSA Nationals event while riding for Blumenthal. Starr would earn second place ribbons in both team open classes at '02 Nationals to help the Wildcats place second overall for the 2001-02 season. This is to date the only time Cazenovia has finished as high as second in the hunter seat team competition at IHSA Nationals.


Longtime IHSA Treasurer Naomi Blumenthal passed away on December 13th (or 14th, according to one source). Blumenthal was associated with the IHSA for over 40 years, starting as the head coach of the Cazenovia College equestrian team in the late 1970's through the 2004-05 season. Blumenthal was the Zone 2, Region 2 Region President for over a decade through 2005 and became the IHSA Treasurer in mid-2004. Blumenthal was the IHSA Lifetime Achievement Award recipient in 1999, becoming only the eighth person to receive this honor up to that point.

Many may have already read the official press release on Blumenthal's passing (which can be found directly here while another one appears on (and that one can be found here

In addition to her many non-IHSA accomplishments listed in those articles it should be noted that Blumenthal also was the IHSA Nationals show organizer or show coordinator seven times. In 1990 she shared show organizing duties with then-St. Lawrence University head coach Marilyn Cobb and in 1998, 1999, 2002, 2013, 2014 and 2019 was the sole organizer or coodinator. Blumenthal was also a large "R" judge who occasionally judged IHSA shows, including a Zone 3, Region 4 Regionals event roughly 15 years ago.

Blumenthal was undoubtedly one of the faces of the IHSA over the past 15 years. When cameras rolled at IHSA National events and members of the media wanted to interview the leaders within the organization Blumenthal was almost always among those interviewed.

Blumenthal was very proud of the accomplishments many of her former riders achieved after graduating from Cazenovia. In 1997 the University of Delaware was the surprise IHSA Nationals hunter seat champion team and their head coach at the time, Bryan Bradley, had competed both hunter seat and western for Blumenthal from 1983 to 1985. When Bradley was looking at potential colleges during the 1982-83 school year he chose Cazenovia for their equine studies program. When he looked at the school he was unaware until a tour guide explained it that he would be part of the first co-educational class in school history. As a result Bradley was one of only 27 men enrolled at the school in the fall of 1983 and by joining the equestrian team became the first male athlete in school history! Bradley also confirmed that Blumenthal was coach of both the English and Western teams at that time (at some point between 1985 and the mid-1990's a separate western coach would be hired). Blumenthal was very matter-of-fact and would not waste time getting to the point, which worked to Bradley's benefit thanks to his knowledge of horses when he got to Cazenovia.

"Naomi taught 'Introduction to Equine' for the freshman," says Bradley. "It didn't matter who you were you had to take that class. During the first day I kept raising my hand again and again. Afterwards Naomi told me she wanted to see me in her office. I thought 'Oh no. What have I done?' When I got there Naomi explained that she wanted me to take the final exam! She said if I pass the intro to equine final I don't have to come back to class. She said 'I am just going to waste your time if can pass this!'"

We have lost the color print of Coach Blumenthal with Jennie Chesis (on right) at 1998 IHSA Nationals in Port Jervis, New York. This writer remembers that Blumenthal's shirt was red but Chesis was the blue ribbon winner in the Cacchione Cup that year. Chesis is the lone Cazenovia College rider to win the Cacchione Cup to this day.

To the best of our knowledge every Cazenovia hunter seat rider who competed at IHSA Nationals between the Spring of 1977 and the 2004-05 season did so while Blumenthal was head coach (Editor's Note: Our apologies if Ronnie Sause, who won the individual novice flat at 1977 Nationals, did so under a different head coach as it is possible someone coached Cazenovia before Blumenthal's arrival. Also the first two Cazenovia western riders to win IHSA Nationals individual classes, Tyler Gagnon in 1988/beginner western horsemanship and Jeff Steer in 1992/advanced western horsemanship may or may not have won after a western head coach other than Blumenthal was hired). Jennie Chesis, who attended Cazenovia for her freshman and sophomore years (1996-98) won the Cacchione Cup at 1998 IHSA Nationals. To date no other Cazenovia rider has won the top individual hunter seat award. Growing up in Central New York State Chesis crossed paths with Blumenthal at shows many times but the decision to attend Cazenovia was not pre-meditated.

"I had known Naomi for years," says Chesis. "I rode for George Patterson at Patterson Stables and Naomi was often show manager or show secretary at many of the shows we went to (Paterson coached the Rochester Institute of Technology team at the time). I had applied to two schools when Naomi and I got into a conversation at a Syracuse PHA show in April of '96 - my senior year of high school. Naomi asked "What are you doing next year" and I said I didn't really know. The conversation went well and it resulted in Naomi faxing my information to Cazenovia that same day."

This writer remembers his first meetings with Blumenthal at 1997 and 1998 Nationals, as well as a pair of 1997-98 Zone 2, Region 2 shows and 1998 Zone 2 Zones. At one of the shows I took a photo of Naomi with 'Peanut,' her Bichon who she brought to as many shows as she could. At 1998 Nationals I took a photo of Naomi and Bradley, who at this time only crossed paths at IHSA Nationals as the two coached in different Zones. This was before digital photography was widespread, and thus all these photos were taken with film cameras. I would make two prints of each photo and give one to a rider or coach who was in the photo the next time I saw either of them in person. As a result Naomi received prints of both of these photos. Naomi said how much she liked these two photos, as more often than not she did like photos of herself. Sadly I do not have the other print of these photos or they would have been posted here. Naomi was not always easy to please, and to receive praise for multiple photos was a rave in my opinion.

If you read the articles on or you are aware that Naomi lost quite a few members of her immediate family prior to her own passing last month. There is no joy in Naomi's passing but hopefully she has been reunited with these family members and Peanut whom she loved so much.

---Steve Maxwell


© 2002 - 2021 Campus Equestrian