It is with great sadness that the Ontario Equestrian Federation announces the death of Marie-Helen Lessard, a respected competitor, coach, judge, official, horse show organizer and volunteer.
Lessard, 49, and her husband, Steven Ratz, 57, were killed in a car crash on Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014 on Dufferin County Road 10 near their home in Amaranth Township.
Known to friends as MH, Lessard operated Equus 3D Equestrian Centre and is remembered for her unwavering commitment to furthering equestrian sport. An Equine Canada mentor, learning facilitator and master evaluator, she provided tremendous leadership and support and was instrumental in the success of the national coaching program. A successful EC Level II coach and NCCP Level III Theory Coach, Lessard was a 2013 recipient of the Equine Canada ProChaps National Coaching Award for English Level 2/Competition Coach Specialist.
“Our province has suffered a tremendous loss with the passing of MH Lessard,” says Dianne Graham, executive director of the OEF. “She played an integral role in shaping the NCCP English Coaching Program into what it is today.”
Lessard was committed to sharing her passion for horses with people of all abilities. She provided her facility for the horsemanship program offered through Community Living Dufferin and hosted programs for special needs students to give them the opportunity to groom and ride.
Lessard also gave back to the equestrian community as an official. She was an Equine Canada
As a competitor, Lessard successfully competed in numerous Horse Trials and Three-Day Events and continued to compete in Dressage. Her students were equally successful in the show ring, with many having successfully competed up to the Preliminary level in both Eventing and Dressage.
“Her passion and dedication to equestrian sport was infectious and she inspired all who crossed her path,” says Graham. “We send our deepest condolences to her family during this tragic time. Please know that the equine world is mourning with you.”
Visitation will be held for Marie-Helen Lessard at Dods & McNair Funeral Home, 21 First Street, Orangeville on Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. A private family service will be held. A celebration of their lives will take place at Orangeville District Secondary School, 22 Faulkner Street, Orangeville on Saturday Oct. 4, 2014 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
There is a fund set up at RBC Royal Bank called the “Ratz Lessard Fund” in support of her two sons, Sebastian and Derek. Donations can be made at any RBC branch or by calling 1-800-769-2511 and citing the fund’s name.
Donations can also be made to the Upper Grand Learning Foundation athttp://www.uppergrandlearningfoundation.com