NATCHITOCHES, La. – A once thriving, horse racing business in Cenla is now dealing with what some may describe as a fallen empire, and innocent animals are the victims in this downfall. News Channel 5’s Rachael Penton investigates ‘The Ryder’s River Ridge Rescue.’
Ryder’s River Ridge Farm sits quietly along Williams Avenue in Natchitoches.
It’s the farm where founder Firal Ryder built his empire of thoroughbred horses, and soon became one of the most well-respected breeders and racers in the state.
“I guess you’d say they were going to have to run against some winners,” Firal’s brother Paul Ryder said.
Paul Ryder, brother to the farm’s founder, says that Firal lived and breathed for his farm and for his business — even picking up the title of Breeder of the Year in 2009.
“That’s the reason he was able to become one of the leading breeders, because his horses were taken care of well. His mares in that pasture with lush grass. They were fed twice a day,” Paul said.
But later that year, Firal was diagnosed with Dementia, among other health problems, and soon became too ill to continue operating the farm. Paul said that during that time, Firal’s son Clay picked up the reigns.
And that’s where the story takes a turn.
“Disgraceful to say, what it looks like compared to what it always used to be when he was able to oversee it,” Paul said.
As for Paul Ryder, he said he wants to make sure his brother Firal’s good reputation lives on.
“That’s the reason I’m here…to clear anyone’s mind of him being responsible for anything that’s happened up there because [I've known] my brother for 80 years,” Paul said.
The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Department is investigating the situation along with the state police. But so far, no charges have been pressed against [Clay] Ryder.
If you’re interested in adopting one of the rescued horses, visit www.lahorserescue.com.
See Racheal Penton’s full report: