A Hanford man known worldwide as a breeder of championship dressage horses is recovering at a Fresno hospital from injuries suffered in a buggy accident.
Willy Arts, 53, a trainer at D.G. Bar Ranch east of Hanford, sustained "multiple skull fractures as well as other broken bones," according to a post on the ranch's Facebook page.
News of the accident swept through the dressage community, prompting an outpouring of comments to the Facebook page and hundreds of "likes."
The accident happened about 9 a.m. Tuesday at a horse arena, the Kings County Fire Department said. Arts was airlifted to Community Regional Medical Center, where he was listed in fair condition Thursday, the hospital said.
"He is talking with us and can move his arms and legs," a Facebook update posted Thursday morning said.
Ken Braddock, publisher of dressage-news.com, praised Arts as one of the best trainers of young dressage horses in the world. One of the horses he trained competed in the 2008 Dressage World Championships for Young Horses, Braddock said.
Another Arts-bred horse competed in the 2004 Olympics, according to a 2007 article in The Chronicle of The Horse magazine.
Dressage is a competitive equestrian sport in which riders guide horses through a series of gaits using signals from their hands, feet, legs, back and seat.
A dressage competition can be compared to compulsory figure skating and gymnastics, and the horse should appear to perform the movements with no discernible prompting from the rider.
Arts came to the United States from the Netherlands in 1984 after he was hired by dairy ranch owners Tony and Betty DeGroot to breed and raise horses. He made the D.G. Bar Ranch into "an institution in California dressage," The Chronicle of The Horse article states.
Arts also brought with him Dutch Warmblood horses, which are prized in the world of dressage.
"He was very influential in changing the Valley as far as the quality of horses for sale and the horses he imported for dressage and jumping," said Melissa Creswick of Clovis, a dressage competition judge who for three decades owned the Clovis Training Center.
D.G. Bar Ranch was scheduled to host a Friesian Horse Association of North America stallion testing event today and Saturday, but that event was canceled, The Chronicle said on its website.
The DeGroot family declined interview requests.
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6104, firstname.lastname@example.org
or @fb_LewGriswold on Twitter.