First Time's a Charm for Daniel Castillo in $4,000 EAF Grooms Class at Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show


Angela Pollack, Missy Luczak-Smith, and Daniel Castillo with As Ever. Photo by Cathrin Cammett.

Aug. 3, 2021 – Blowing Rock, NC – Professional groom Daniel Castillo is no stranger to horse shows, but last Sunday was the first time he attended one as a competitor. In his first venture into the show ring, Castillo topped a field of twenty entries to win the ninth annual Equestrian Aid Foundation Grooms Class at the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show.

An employee of Spring Mill Farm in Memphis, Tenn., 21-year-old Castillo was encouraged to enter the class by his coworkers. Judge Bob Crandall had the difficult task of ranking the entries, but in the end, Castillo came out on top with As Ever, a 2008 grey Holsteiner gelding owned by Ella Trotz. "I’m very honored to get to show in this class with so many of my friends and fellow grooms," said Castillo. "It’s incredible to be chosen as the winner and I thank everyone at Shapley's, the Blowing Rock Horse Show, the sponsors, and the Equestrian Aid Foundation for this opportunity."


Left: Prizes for the winners. Right: Second place winner Airel Morales and Necofino, owned by the Rein Family, LLC. Photos by Missy Luczak-Smith.


Since its inception in 2013, the EAF Grooms Class at Blowing Rock has been organized and sponsored by Equestrian Aid Foundation board member Missy Luczak-Smith and her husband Doug Smith. "Every year, this class is incredibly competitive," said Luczak-Smith. "It's a real testament to the professionalism of our top grooms and the integral part they play in our sport."

In addition to prize money, the class winner was awarded a custom belt buckle from Kathy's Show Equipment, a family-run business that specializes in high quality, handmade horse show equipment and apparel. Top-placing grooms also received products from Shapley's Superior Grooming Products. 

Luczak-Smith recognized Shapley's for their longstanding commitment to both the Equestrian Aid Foundation and the industry's working professionals. She also expressed thanks to Caroline Moran and the Gibson family for their generous support of the class. Full results are below.