California Riding Magazine • December, 2012

Ray Ariss:
Starbrite Riding Academy
Veteran trainer back in the winners circle with IFSHA triumphs.

Trainer Ray Ariss is a hard guy to slow down. After suffering two heart attacks in the past few years, the Norco professional and his horses are back on the show scene as if nothing had happened. At the International Friesian Show Horse Association World and Grand National Championships in Del Mar in October, Ray and his wife and fellow competitor Pippa let everybody know that they're back in a big way.

Ray and Pippa entered 10 classes with two horses and finished with five World and Grand National Championships and five Reserve World and National Championships, two of which were ties for first place. Pippa's stallion Hans was a star of the show, winning the World Championship in the Friesian Dressage Hack Open and also earning National Championship in the prestigious Friesian Dressage Sport Horse In Hand Stallions 6-and- over division.

On something of a whim, Ray chose the IFSHA gala event as a debut for Jackson, a 5-year-old Friesian/Warmblood cross that he's been working with just a few months. The whim turned into wins when the youngster got his feet wet with a National Championship in the English Pleasure Walk/Trot Maiden Horse. He then went on to being named National Champion Half-Breed Gelding Sporthorse In Hand and World Champion Dressage Suitability Open division. Ray trains the horse for Janet Tucker, who plans to compete him herself soon.

Pippa and Hans

Sweet Victories

"These were really sweet wins for us," Ray reports. His recovery is not the only comeback story to emerge from the Arisses' Starbrite Riding Academy during the show. Pippa's mount Hans has a remarkable tale, too. The gorgeous horse is the son of the late Pyt 325, who Pippa bred, raised, trained and owned until his untimely death. Now 10, Hans wasn't even started until the age of 7. A severe colic led to laminitis that threatened his life at one point, then led to a few years of lay-up. Pippa didn't really expect him to recover, but Ray never lost hope. "He spent two years in his stall, unable to move," the trainer explains. "It was doubly emotional because we had just lost his sire, Pyt 325, my wife's first true love, and that was so devastating to her that she had decided that horses were now out of her life. This had to work out, because I needed back the wife I married," explains Ray.


Good horsemanship and a good horse saved the day. With just three competitions under their belts, Pippa and Hans headed to Del Mar where they stormed their classes in the professional division. 
The pair's success was especially meaningful to Ray because he credits Pippa with saving his life, in the most literal sense of the word. When his second heart attack struck, time was critical. Pippa's quick response, combined with fortunate circumstances that allowed Ray to go under the knife immediately once at the hospital, saved his life. "Getting to see her succeed at Del Mar, knowing that I might not have been there had it not been for her, was a pretty special moment,"
Ray explains.

Hans and Jackson's IFSHA wins alert the Southern California equestrian community that Starbrite is back to its winning ways. Ray is highly regarded for getting the best out of a wide variety of horses.

He came to national fame in 2007 through his performance in the first Mustang Makeover. His 90-day transformation of the formerly wild Mustang Hail Yeah inspired the event's hosts, the BLM and the Mustang Heritage Foundation, to outbid the highest bidder for $50,000 and award the horse to Ray to keep for good as an ambassador for the breed. Meanwhile, Hail Yeah became the City of Norco's official mascot, bringing a lot of positive renown to "Horsetown USA." Because of the continued support and sponsorship of O.H. Kruse, since the very start, Hail Yeah has been enjoying a very happy fruitful life.

Ray and Pippa are especially grateful to their loyal clients these last few years. With Ray's health back to 100 percent and his trademark energy at full strength, they are in rebuilding mode and welcome new riders and horse owners of all interests and abilities. Ray holds monthly clinics the second Saturday of every month (the third if rained out) at Starbrite Riding Academy, during which riders and auditors are welcome. Prospective students can also catch Ray and Pippa on the Open dressage circuit throughout Southern California and at Friesian and other breed shows as they and their clients' needs dictate.           

For more information, please visit or call 951-279-1036.