Born around 1778. Died on September 16, 1826 in Warsaw.
The imperial decree issued in 1816 provided the Great Royal Master of the Horses as a superior for the stud of Janów Podlaski. Therefore, Aleksander Potocki from Wilanów became the first director of the stud, who held this office at that time. He proposed a candidature of Jan Ritz as an expert who could go to Russia to choose and bring stallions and mares offered by the emperor.
Jan Ritz was a German resident in Poland. He finished the veterinary school in Berlin, then he performed the function of “a sawbone at Prussian King’s packs” and at last, in result of changing fortunes, he became a resident of Wołyń, at Rzewuski stud (probably at Wacław Rzewuski estate in Koźmin).
The candidature of Jan Ritz was accepted by the governor and he was called to Warsaw in December 1816. However, the preparatory action and, first of all, correspondence with authorities in Petersburg lasted for some time, thus, Jan Ritz went to Petersburg and then to Moscow only in spring 1817.
In the meantime, feverish preparations for reception and location of the pack to be brought were carried on in the Kingdom.
Antoni Sumiński, the Councillor of State, was appointed to inspect the goods and he proposed to locate the stud in Janów where, in his opinion, were much better conditions than in Kołodziądz, in spite of inchoate works in Kołodziądz. This opinion was presented to the Administrative Board that, on 17 May 1817, adopted the resolution on location the stud in Janów.
Erection of stables and other facilities started immediately and the works were carried out hurriedly. Nevertheless, continuous reminders were sent from Warsaw as arrival of horses from Russia was expected soon.
Jan Ritz arrived in Moscow on 08 May 1817. According to the orders receive in Petersburg, he was to choose suitable horses from the imperial studs and to buy some more horses from private breeders or dealers to supplement the contingent of 50 stallions and 100 mares.
He leased stables in Moscow for horses gathered succesively. After completing the whole transport, he was going to go to the Kingdom.
From the period of Jan Ritz’s stay in Russia, his abundant correspondence with Polish authorities remained in the files of the Administrative Board. Unfortunately however, these letters contain mainly financial issues and his complaints that he cannot find good horses while there is a little information on horses that he saw or bought.
Jan Ritz had clearly a taste for English horses. Apparently, he got the feel of this breed values during his service in Prussia. However, to judge by the correspondence, his knowledge of this domain was not too thorough. While referring often to different thoroughbreds seen in Russia, he usually mentions laconically that it is of “English breed” and adds his evaluation of the “beauty of shapes” He never quoted their origin or any data on their racing career, although some of them were the winners of classics in England.
In the period when Jan Ritz was in Petersburg and Mocow, the horse trade was well-developed as regards the thoroughbreds. Several Englishmen had their commercial counters in this cities and delivered thoroughbred horses to Russian breeders and sportsmen. The most known shops belonged to: Smith, Bangs, Kerby, Lucc, Parkinson, Ashton and Jackson. The latter brought horses in great numbers and 135 stallions and 125 mares brought by him for breeders and the Russian government appear in the first volume of the Russian Stud Book and many of these horses were not entered in the Russian Stud Book.
So, when Ritz looked at Moscow, the beautiful full-bred horses at stables of the above-mentioned English dealers drew his attention at once. However, these horses were too expensive and moreover, at first he had to watch the imperial studs and choose the horses that could obtain a permit.
He started from Pachriński’s stud but was not delighted with these horses. He chose somewhat and sent several alarming letters that in this situation, maybe, he would not be able to fulfil the entrusted task Then he visited the following studs: Poczynkowskie, Choroszyłowskie, Bronickie, Aleksandrowskie and Skopińskie. Everywhere, he was unsatisfied and sent reports that he was proposed horses unfit for breeding. As the result of intervention of both Polish and Russian authorities and the distinct kindness of Alexander I, the order was sent to all court studs to treat the Ritz’s mission favourably and to give him as good material as possible.
Once the order was issued, everything was easier. Finally, he choose 25 stallions and 90 mares from the above-mentioned studs. Moreover, he took 5 stallions from Szulc at the imperial manege Kołymażny in Moscow. The rest for the designated contingent, he bought by private treaty. Some mares were covered on site by the leading stallions of the imperial studs, as eg. English Goliath (I did not manage to find further data on this stallion; a smalltime mention on probably the same stallion can be found at “Zurnale Konnozawodostwa o Ochoty” 1845 r., no. 8, page 201).
Ritz liked only the best horses but of course nobody wanted to give them away; while talking with dealers, he also used to choose such horses that were too expensive, so for that reason, the negotiations failed mostly. Among others, he tried to obtain the Thoroughbred stallion Brilliant, born in England in 1808, from Parchiński’s stud; the horse was brought to Russia by Jackson in 1815 and then he was purchased for the imperial studs for 28,000 roubles. This stallion was of course unavailable.
Once the transport was completed more or less, Ritz went from Moscow to the Kingdom, towards Kaługa, Orioł, Kijów, Humań, Berdyczów, Dubno, Łuck, Lubomi and Włodawa. He was going to buy missing horses at private studs on the way.
While leaving Orioł, he had already 39 stallions, 100 mares and 33 pcs of young stock. He arrived to Kijów on 30th August and in Berdyczów on 20th October. On the way, he regularly got off track to the more superb studs to buy horses. After almost a hlf-yearly travel, Ritz arrived at last with the whole transport in Janów on 18 December 1817. This is the historical date for Polish breeding. This day should be a holiday of Janów; it deserves the special attention because the fixed date of the stud farm in Janów was not known as yet.
Ritz brought along 54 stallions (he take 55 stallions from Russia but one of them died during the march at Włodzimierska Govt.), 100 mares and 33 three-year-olds. The transport was led by 13 Russian grooms under supervision of Ritz and Iwan Romanow from the stud of Skopin. The Rusian grooms stayed some time at Janów until engagement of locals; then they were sent back to Skopin. (…)
Source: „Dzieje Państwowej Stadniny w Janowie Podlaskim 1817 – 1939”(History of the National Stud Farm in Janów Podlaski 1817 – 1939), Witold Pruski. Poznańskie Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Nauk, Poznań 1948