In Memoriam: Marie-Helen Lessard (1965-2014)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Posted by Equine Canada

In memory of Marie-Helen Lessard. Photo Credit - Wendy Hudson
In memory of Marie-Helen Lessard. Photo Credit - Wendy Hudson

Ottawa, ON September 30, 2014 - The Canadian equestrian community is saddened to learn of the loss of Marie-Helen Lessard, 49, and her husband Steven Ratz, 57. On September 28, 2014 they passed away in a traffic accident.

Marie-Helen, commonly referred to by her nickname MH, was a strong advocate in the development of the Canadian coaching program, a keen participant in eventing and dressage competitions and revered instructor to her many students. She was a leader in the equestrian community and enjoyed much success running eventing and dressage shows at her farm, Equus 3D Equestrian Centre.

Her many accomplishments included coaching, organizing competitions, volunteering, competing and officiating. She had recently achieved her FEI Eventing Level 1 steward accreditation, in addition to her English Competition Coach certification, Equine Canada Basic dressage, para-dressage judging status and steward accreditations.

With her exceptional foundation of experience, Marie-Helen was also a member of the Equine Canada Competitions Committee, the Chair of Dressage Canada's Competitions Committee, sat on the Sport Council's Competitions Committee, was a member of the Dressage Canada Board and was an Equine Canada Learning Facilitator.

"Marie-Helen was a vital part of the coaching program," said friend and fellow coach Victoria Andrew. "She was one of those busy people who always got the job done. No matter how many events she was running, shows she was judging, committees she was working on or projects she was involved with, she always had time."

She is remembered by many in the equestrian community. Her undeniable commitment to all facets of the equine industry never went unnoticed. She continuously demonstrated her strong support of equestrian sport through her actions.

Friends and co-competition organizers, Barbara Mitchell and John Taylor said Marie-Helen and Steven will be missed.

"MH Lessard was a valued and well-loved member of our team at the Cornerstone Dressage shows at Palgrave," stated Mitchell. "MH embraced life and tackled everything with gusto. Whether she was working as a steward, judge, bilingual announcer or competing at our shows, she did it with great enthusiasm. She was a well-respected horse show organizer and coach. She was always cheerful and was well admired by the eventing and dressage communities. MH's husband, Steven Ratz was incredibly supportive of her endeavours in the equestrian world. We will miss her not only as a member of our team but as a very close friend."

Both Marie-Helen and her husband were educators. She taught French at Centennial Hylands Elementary School in Shelburne, ON. Her beloved husband was a vice-principal who had recently transferred to a new school, Westside Secondary School, in Orangeville, ON. They were supportive and loving parents of their two sons, Sebastien and Derek.

Marie-Helen finished her show season as the overall Open Training Level Champion on Lorraine Stubbs' eight-year-old gelding Mozambiek and achieved personal best scores throughout the season.

"MH was very passionate about her sons; her husband, Steven; and of course her horses and dogs," said Stubbs. "She was an active person in many aspects of our sport.  From running horse shows, coaching, judging and riding, MH was always busy. After her last show, she was saying how pleased she was with her results and accomplishments this year. She will be greatly missed."

Equine Canada would like to extend its deepest sympathies to Marie-Helen and Steven's family and friends.