The Chronicle of the Horse

As Ines Ritter watched her Mustang Reno kick her heel and flee, she rose from the dirt of the arena, dusted herself off, and wondered what she had gotten into.

Little 5’3 “Ritter was an accomplished rider, having grown up hopping in Germany, then dressage and show jumping on smaller horses, but she didn’t have a big budget for her next horse. , so when she bumped into Reno, who was trained at the second level, she thought it might be fun. Very soon she came to question her decision.

Ines Ritter and Reno compete at FEI level in dressage. High quality photography

“The second time I got on him he tried to kill me!” she said. “He dumped me, ran away, broke his bridle. I was like, ‘Wow, this is gonna be really interesting.’ “

Reno was born wild in Nevada, in the Rock Creek Herd Management Area of ​​the Bureau of Land Management, and he was captured as a yearling. He lived in a corral until he was 5, then had a few owners along the way before Ritter bought him six years ago.

“My goal was to always import a German riding pony, but one day I saw the Reno ad online,” said Ritter. “I never looked for a mustang for dressage, but saw his video and really liked it.”

Ritter, Southern Pines, NC, and her husband were about to sell their house, so she figured she would have the funds to buy Reno, but on closing day the sale failed, she so had to let the gelding go.

Reno loves stepping out of the arena with Ines Ritter. Photo courtesy of Ines Ritter.

Five months later, her trainer Koby Robson called her to tell her that she had seen that Reno was again available for sale in North Carolina at a lower price, and that Ritter’s house had finally been sold, so she bought it.

Ritter, 45, isn’t sure why Reno had trust issues or where he got them back, but she and Robson took their time walking through the levels with him.

“He’s a really interesting creature, and I don’t know if that’s the mustang in him or not,” she said. “He has always been very responsive to changes in his environment. It was still coming out of nowhere, so trying to train things as confidence was quite difficult. I would just take him on hikes and make sure he knew I wasn’t trying to kill him because in the end it was fear that something would happen to him. Bolting has always been his choice. Mustangs are super trainable, but Reno is a special case due to the confidence. I don’t think a lot of people would have given him a chance, but because I had no other option, he was my dressage horse.

He’s very funny, ”Ines Ritter said of Reno. “He likes to move his little faces. He always makes a smile. Photo courtesy of Ines Ritter.

Ritter, who works as a graphic designer, jumped on Reno early on in their partnership, but the duo did well in dressage for the little nationwide tour last year and are now studying Grand Prix, so she backed down on the fence stuff. . Throughout her dressage career, Reno has remained barefoot and Ritter is the only one to ride the 15 hand gelding in order to maintain the confidence she has worked so hard for.

“Right now he thinks I’m making mistakes,” she said. “He loves flight changes. This is his benchmark. Whenever there is a problem, he tells me, “I can make a quick change!” Or passage. He likes passages.

What started as a quest for her bronze medal has now turned into a journey to her gold medal with Reno, 18, and she hopes to step into the ring at the Grand Prix this season.

“He is opinionated but in a good way. He is not treated like your typical FEI horse. He lives outside 24/7. He doesn’t get cut. I like to keep it as natural as possible. Personally, I think it helps in the relationship as well. I always say you have to have a good relationship for these creatures to do what we want them to do. This is an important part. If I had ever treated Reno differently from a partner, I don’t think I would have reached this level. I think he probably would have drawn the line at some point.

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