News that Ross Reisner, a well-known horseman, was shot and killed inside his home in the wealthy community of Setauket spread quickly Wednesday through tight-knit equestrian circles.
"I can't believe it," said Bobby Ginsberg, a childhood friend and business partner from Southampton.
Reisner, who lived with his partner, Kevin Murray, at the house on Upper Sheep Pasture Road, was struck by bullets that Suffolk police said came through his window.
Ginsberg spoke to Murray Wednesday morning.
"He's very distraught, trying to put everything together and making arrangements for Ross," Ginsberg said.
Shanette Cohen, executive director of the Hampton Classic horse show, where Reisner competed and where his students also competed, most recently just a month ago, said she was stunned.
"His students loved him," Cohen said. "It's a huge loss."
Alexandra Maracic, 16, of Syosset, said she not only lost a beloved instructor, but also a friend and a role model.
"It has yet to hit me that the man who taught me everything I know in life is gone," she said. "I know he's probably up there telling me to stop crying."
Jessica Weil, a partner in Lloyd Harbor Equestrian Center, credited Ross with pushing her daughter, Monica Glassman, 18, to become a better rider and a more confident young woman.
"As soon as our lesson was over, he was a friend, peer, fashion consultant and comedian," said Weil, who rode and trained with Reisner. "It's a shock to realize he will no longer be a part of our lives."
Friends since they were teenagers, Ginsberg and Reisner went into business together in April and established Maple Lane Farm in Mattituck, where they trained students and horses at the 17-acre facility.
Reisner was looking forward to accompanying his students, who qualified to compete in some of the most prestigious horse shows this fall, Ginsberg said.
There was the Capital Challenge Horse Show in Maryland and the United States Equestrian Federation finals in New Jersey. Then, Reisner was to head to Harrisburg for the Pennsylvania National Horse Show for medal finals and finish the tour in Kentucky for the Maclay finals.
"He loved horses. That was his life," Ginsberg said. "I can't imagine him doing anything else."