If you ever needed proof that the adage “Age ain’t nothin’ but a number” is true for horses, look no further than Class Action. The striking gray big eq superstar is 18 years old, but to see him in or out of the ring, you’d never know it.
“Class Action really still acts like he’s 7,” said Stacia Klein Madden, head trainer of Beacon Hill Show Stables in Colts Neck, N.J., where Class Action resides. “I feel very fortunate to have him here, because he is just a horse that tries to deliver day after day after day.” Class Action has placed in the top 10 of every major big eq final with various riders over the years.
Class Action, better known as “Ranger” around the barn, is ridden and owned by Coco Fath of Hillside Farm LLC. “He can be fresh at home—like, he’s just a little playful,” said Fath. “But then at the show, he’s in show mode and ready to go.”
Fath, who just turned 17, bought the 16.1-hand Danish Warmblood by Carano from Lucy Deslauriers last year. So far this year, Fath and Class Action have placed fourth at the George H. Morris Excellence in Equitation Championship (Fla.) and second at the Kathy Scholl Equitation Classic (N.Y.).
Last year with Deslauriers, Class Action won the R.W. “Ronnie” Mutch Equitation Championship, and in 2015, the pair had wins at the George H. Morris Excellence in Equitation Championship (Fla.), and Devon (Pa.).
Ranger’s U.S. Equestrian Federation show record dates back to 2008, when he started showing in California in training and baby green hunter classes with Rebecca and Cameron Smith. That fall, he showed in his first big equitation final—the Pessoa/USEF Medal Final with Navona Gallegos. Katherine Newman leased him for the Washington International Equitation Classic Final (D.C.) the next week, and won it aboard Ranger, who was then a dapple gray.
In 2009, Gallegos was fourth in the USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals—West (Calif.) on the gray.
In Sept. 2009, Jessica Springsteen took over Ranger’s reins, and promptly placed second in the USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals—East (N.J.). She showed him throughout 2010 in the hunters and equitation, but didn’t take him to any finals. For 2011, Allison Toffolon got the ride on Ranger, and was ninth in the USEF Show Jumping Talent Search—East and eighth in the Washington International Equitation Classic Final (D.C.). In 2013, Toffolon and Ranger were sixth in both the Pessoa/USEF Medal Final and the ASPCA Maclay Final.
Megan MacPherson took up the reins in 2014 and was fourth at the USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals—East. Then Lucy Deslauriers rode Ranger to much success in 2015 and ’16, including third in the Washington International Final and 10th in the ASPCA Maclay Final.
While Ranger certainly has an impressive resume, that’s just scratching the surface of why those around him love him so much. Here’s a look at Class Action behind the stall door:
• He’s a horse of many names: There’s Class Action, Ranger, and—as many affectionately have come to call him—“Puff.”
“I think Lucy came up with it,” said Fath. “I guess because he’s white and he’s fluffy and cute.”
• But Deslauriers isn’t sure if the “Puff” nickname preceded her. “I feel like people called him that before me,” she said. “I could be totally wrong, but I definitely started to call him that more regularly, and it’s just sort of grown. People know him as Puff now.”
It fits, too. “I think when he goes around he just looks kind of puffy,” Deslauriers said with a laugh. “He looks like he’s floating almost—his canter is super smooth, and he just looks like a cloud.”
• He doesn’t always have that pretty and perfect gray look about him though, though.
“He does like to roll in the paddock,” said Rene Tovar, Class Action’s groom. “I’m lucky if he doesn’t do it, but he’s allowed.” (Read more about Tovar in the COTH Groom Spotlight about him.)
• Tovar really doesn’t mind when Class Action makes a little extra work for him in the name of having fun. The groom and gelding are pretty much BFFs.
“Puff loves his groom, Rene, and Rene loves him,” said Fath. “They’re cute.”
• Another thing Class Action loves is getting treats—and he’s not picky about it. “We have to be pretty careful with him,” said Tovar. That’s because, as Fath put it, Class Action “is very treat-oriented.”
And if they’re not careful… “He pretty much would eat anything,” said Deslauriers. “He’s pretty spoiled.”
• He’s spoiled, sure, but also oh so very silly. As Madden put it, “He’s very serious when he’s at the horse show, and he’s very much a clown when he’s at home.”
• One thing that doesn’t make Class Action laugh, though, is having his girth tightened. “He really hates—like really hates—having his girth tightened,” said Fath. “He gets really mad…[and] he doesn’t really like when you stretch his legs.”
• He’s pretty laidback about most things, though—like getting in the trailer. “He could probably go on the truck blindfolded,” said Jennifer Cronin Alesia, an assistant trainer at Beacon Hill Show Stables. “He could probably give the driver directions, too and be the GPS. He’s been there, done that.”
• Everyone’s in agreement that when it’s show time, Class Action is a true competitor. “He definitely enjoys his down time, but he for sure knows when it’s time to get in the ring and shine,” said Deslauriers. “Overall, he knows his job and just does it.”
“He’s smart,” said his groom, Tovar. “He’s a really smart horse.”
• Fath said she has “a good connection” with Class Action, adding, “I’ve learned so much from riding him, that’s for sure.”