By Sarah Welk Baynum & Catie Staszak
Twenty-three-year-old Lexi Ray of Campbellville, Ontario, has hit the halfway mark of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in flying form. Ray and her 12-year-old Belgian bred gelding Lukaku VD Bisschop topped the $15,000 SJHOF High Amateur Jumper Classic Saturday at WEF 5 to claim the division’s championship.
Ray has made her winter migration to Wellington with five horses, including Lukaku VD Bisschop—affectionately called “Luke”—and mares Rocca R.T. OLD, Evita and Cara 199. All have produced strong clear efforts in the first half of the season. Luke in particular has shined, also jumping clear in the U25 Welcome at WEF 2. In open company, Ray and Rocca R.T. jumped to a top 12 finish at the CSI2* 1.45m Speed at WEF 4.
In the summer, her focus will shift north, as she is a member of Major League Show Jumping’s ShowPlus® Northern Lights, which has afforded her the opportunity to compete at the CSI5* level.
“The horses are everything to me, and I would do anything for them,” Ray says. “I love the horses first. I manage every aspect of their day, such as visits from farriers, veterinarians, and physiotherapists. I take pride in creating a program that I think is best suited to each one of my horses individually.”
For Ray, the pursuit of equestrian sport started early. Despite coming from a non-equestrian family, she started riding and showing at a young age. After participating in a week-long horse summer camp as a child, there was no turning back; Ray’s family later purchased a small horse farm.
But it was when she started riding at Chris Delia Stables in Burlington, Ontario, that Ray’s riding developed most. Ray would spend seven years training—and winning—with Delia. Now training under the tutelage of John Roche of JR Show Stables, Ray has taken her riding to the next level.
“I’m really grateful to work with John, and I feel like we make a great team,” Ray says. “We both want what’s best for the horses and we are both very competitive.”
Ray graduated Western University in London, Ontario, where she majored in Media, Information, & Technoculture. Now focusing on her pursuits in the saddle, Ray has quickly grown her resume. With Jewel 8, she was the top ranked U25 rider in Canada and finished as the Reserve Champion in the 2020 Canadian U25 Championships; she and that mare also took a U25 win at Spruce Meadows, as well as a CSI2* victory at Bourg en Bresse (FRA) in 2019. The anchor for Team Canada in the CSIOY Nations Cup at WEF 2020, Ray has more goals to represent her country at the senior level. In the more immediate future, she hopes to step her two young horses up to bigger FEI classes and contend at the five-star level. She has big aspirations, with her eyes set representing her country at championships like the Olympic Games.
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