It’s with a heavy heart that the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Equine Breeding Program announces the passing of one of their most cherished horses and breeding stallions, Lil Ruf Rider, affectionately referred to as “Rider.”

Rider died unexpectedly at a local veterinary clinic after being taken in for sudden onset of severe pain and non-weight bearing lameness on August 29. While Rider’s passing was secondary due to initial clinical signs, further diagnostics are being conducted.

Rider was a 2003 AQHA sorrel stallion (Lil Ruf Peppy x Hollywood Lolita). He was owned by Mike McEntire of McEntire Reining Horses and was successfully shown for several years all across the United States. McEntire Reining graciously donated Rider to the UWRF Equine Breeding Program in 2019.

Rider made the long haul from California, arriving at a snow-covered UWRF horse farm on March 11, 2019. Rider was immediately successful within the UWRF Equine Breeding Program, with his first two UWRF foals arriving in spring 2020. In addition, UWRF is expecting six foals sired by Rider in the 2021 foaling season.

Not only was Rider an integral part of the breeding program, he also played a significant role within UWRF’s Equine Reproductive Techniques course. He was frequently the first stallion students ever worked alongside and handled; his exceptional manners and easy-going personality were reassuring to inexperienced students. The loss of Rider is significant; still, the program is proud to see his legacy live on through his offspring.

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“We all want a horse that is willing and of sound mind through anything. We also know how rare it is to find. Well, we found it. Rider was not only willing from the moment he arrived at the UWRF equine farm, he was a perfect gentleman until his last day,” said UWRF equine student Sandy Tyler. “Thank you for teaching me so much Rider, and rest in peace.”

UWRF students and alumni are encouraged to share stories and memories of Rider with Animal and Food Science Assistant Professor Casie Bass via email. Stories will be included in a memorial for Rider that will be housed in the UWRF equine breeding pavilion. Bass can be reached at casie.bass@uwrf.edu.