She was a difficult horse. She had talent, speed, and grit, but many riders were hesitant to climb aboard, knowing that they may not have been able to control the hot mare. Even the great Ludgar Beerbaum once voiced his concerns about taking on the horse.
Of course, rigorous training and horsemanship could have calmed the mare and made her easier to ride and handle, but doing so would have sacrificed her incredible ability and scope. Ratina Z was a fireball, and those who rode her had to direct her energy towards challenging courses and hope that they were good enough for her.
Ratina Z was bred by the Zangersheide Stud in Belguim, a stud known for producing outstanding jumping horses. Sired by Ramiro Z and out of Argentina Z, Ratina Z was no exception, as she soon proved under Olympian Piet Raymakers.
Riding for the Netherlands, Raymakers guided Ratina Z to a silver medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Beerbaum then took over the reins and won the World Cup in 1993, followed by team gold at the 1994 World Championships.
Ratina Z continued to represent Germany under Beerbaum by winning numerous international competitions, including the Grand Prix of Aachen, in which they guaranteed a gold medal for Germany. At the same competition, Beerbaum was gunning for an individual gold as well, but Ratina Z suffered an unfortunate injury and was off the circuit for months.
Always the fighter, Ratina Z came back impressively to earn a double title at the 1997 European Show Jumping Championships in Mannheim, Germany. Beerbaum continued to campaign the mare successfully until 2000, at which point she was retired in an emotional ceremony.
Ratina Z will live out her days as a broodmare at Beerbaum’s home at Riesenbeck Rush.
Today, this effervescent mare is regarded as a legend. Almost every article that mentions her calls her “a dream,” “a legend,” or “a horse of the century.” She certainly has earned her spot in the record books, and perhaps what is more impressive than her long list of wins is the way she accomplishes them.
To watch Ratina Z jump a course is a lesson in rising to challenges and meeting them head on. Ratina Z never hesitated to move up a stride or take the inside turn; rather, she seemed to relish the chance to exert herself and push her limits. This perhaps is one of the factors that made her such a difficult mount. In an interview for FEI Equestrian World, Beerbaum explained that the mare “was really horrible to ride.” She was “sharp, and hot,” and while these traits often makes the best jumpers, they make horses that are difficult to handle and work with.
Raymakers had similar view about his former mount, describing her as “an extreme jumper; totally a freak.” Watching her go only illustrates Raymakers words; Ratina has the pumping, flashing legs that hot horses are known for, and she seemed to drive to the base of a fence before yanking her legs up out of the way.
Ultimately, Beerbaum described this mare best: “She was against any rulebook.” Ratina Z was exceptional, talented, and larger than life. Nothing could stand in her way. If it did, she would make sure that she’d make it over, rails intact.