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UPHA Young Trainer’s Award - Ray Krussell

(Editor’s Note: the following speech was given by Wendy Carney at the UPHA/AHHS Convention on Friday, January 8.)

I am honored to be able to be able to stand here today and present Ray Krussell with the 2010 UPHA Young Professional Award. This award is important for our industry because it not only recognizes a young professional and their individual achievements with horses but, as important, it focuses on additional accomplishments and participation in efforts that support the UPHA.

Ray is very loyal, hardworking, competitive and has a great sense of humor. He is very passionate about horses and operating Krussell Stables on a daily basis but he is also very passionate about several other very important things in his life including; The Chicago Cubs and Bears, his favorite rock band of all times, The Cult, and our wonderful golden retrievers Maggie and Duffy. If you know Ray at all you know that all of these favorite things are a part of every single day.

Ray was introduced to the American Saddlebred at age 8. His Aunt, Leslie Krussell, purchase riding lessons for him as a birthday gift and that was all it took. Ray was fortunate to be able to ride at the famed Harms Wood Stables in Morton Grove, Illinois where many horse trainers got their start including: Dick Obenauf, Throughout his juvenile years, Ray worked horse shows for Bob Lanners and Scott Matton and continued to participate in showing horses in addition to playing baseball, football, basketball and soccer. Ray is a diehard sports fan and it is not hard to hear him cheering and coaching his riders from the rail.

Ray began his professional training career at Bridleway Stables, under the direction of Marcia Everett at the historic Valley View Farm, where he worked from 1992-1993. During this time frame two important things had happened. Firstly, Ray decided he officially wanted to make horse training a career, and secondly, he made a conscientious decision at that point to stay in the Midwest and not pursue several opportunities that required relocation to Kentucky. In 1993 Ray went to work for Scott and Carol Matton as an Assistant Trainer. They had recently purchased Oakwood Farm from the Treiber family. Ray’s career at Knollwood spanned the years of 1993 – 2002. The time spent working for Scott and Carol was invaluable to Ray. Knollwood has a very successful business that includes all aspects of a training facility including breeding, starting and showing young horses, equitation, training horses for juveniles and amateurs and of course getting his CDL so he could drive the infamous Semi. Ray was fortunate to work for individuals who are very involved in the UPHA and the breed and encouraged him to also get involved. It was during his time at Knollwood farm that he got his judging card at age 26 and also served on the board of directors and then Vice President of the American Saddlebred Association of Wisconsin.

In the Fall of 2002 Ray left Knollwood Farm and officially opened Krussell Stables. He is grateful to the Pettry family for giving him the opportunity to operate out of the old Royal Scot Stables in Richmond, Illinois for four years. In August of 2006, at the age of 33 Ray and I purchased a 36-stall/14 acre horse farm in Richmond, Illinois. The farm underwent a major renovation for four months prior to horses being moved into the facility January 1, 2007.

As a young professional, Ray has had to make a big transition from working for somebody to being a farm and business owner. He has learned that running and owning a business is a full time job with little to know time off. Ray is extremely hard working and does this without complaint with his eye set on accomplishing the professional and personal goals he has set for himself. One of our customers put it best when she said "Ray is a horse professional not a horse trainer". This statement summarizes his devotion to the breed and his clients and also his willingness to give back to the industry. Ray has served as the Young Professionals Vice President and currently serves as the Young Professionals Committee Chairman. He is on the Board of Directors of the Wisconsin Futurity and annually MC’s the Mid America Horse Association Banquet.

Ray has had a very complete young professional career and has been blessed with wonderful clients and nice horses along the way. He calls everyone in this room a friend and I know looks forward to what the future will bring. He has positioned himself to be ready to take on the second half of his career and knows that a big part of this will be to continue to support and serve the UPHA along the way.

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