By Yvonne Barteau
Ray is one of my favorite horses of all time! He has been in our care and program since he was seven, and now at fifteen, we are still working on the smaller details of both our partnership and our connection and communication details.
I really love Ray. He is super smart, quick to respond and to take advantage of opportunities that come his way, as well as being very naturally balanced in all three paces. While he has never been deliberately naughty, he has quite athletically launched me off of his back three times during the course of our partnership, each time for a different reason. His intent has never been more than to express some high energy or to work some kinks out of a stiff back, a fact I reminded myself of each time I hit the ground. Each fall was more of a reminder that I was not supple or athletic enough to stay with Ray as he demonstrated his remarkable ability to almost cartwheel under saddle.
The first time I rode Ray he was in training at Ken Borden’s barn. Ken bred Ray and also had bred the young stallion who was the reason for our visit. While I was there, Ken mentioned Ray was on the market. I had observed Ray at shows the past few years and he had always caught my eye. I love athletic expressive horses and he certainly was that. So, although we were on property to try the other stallion I decided to hop on Ray because I had a chance to do so.
I have ridden a lot of horses, too many to have kept track of, but Ray put himself in his own category that day. The cat-like balance I had admired when I saw him at the shows was even more evident from his back. I could tell there were some straightness and connection issues to work out, but this was one heck of a horse. My next task was to try and convince my friend and main sponsor that this horse, the one she was not on the market for, was the one to buy. Bless Ginna Frantz’s heart, because she did decide that Ray was the one more horse she needed to have, and so he became GP Raymeister and part of our family.
I started showing Ray at Training and First level in May of his seven year old year and by the end of the season he was high score in the country at Training Level, earning him his first USDF Horse of the Year title.
During his career… which is ongoing, Ray won two more USDF horse of the Year titles, one at Prix St Georges and one at the Intermediare II, the year before he started the Grand Prix. He has also won 17 Regional Championships, 23 All Breed Awards, two USEF National Titles, and he represented the United States at the FEI Young rider World Cup.
If that was not enough for any one horse, Ray then became an exhibition super star. He has agreed to The Lion King act, the gypsy horse act, a Broadway number, and finally his most featured role as the Snow Queen’s horse in our Spirit of the Horse Christmas show. He accomplished all this even as he became totally blind in his left eye.
There are not many horses like Ray out there and I am so so happy for the time we have had with him.