Martín Ramírez drew what he knew, from animals and horsemen in his native Mexico to railroads and cars that marked his early experiences in the United States. The artist was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and spent five years as a sharecropper and journeyman laborer in the municipality of Tototlan before purchasing a small piece of land near his hometown. He had difficulty repaying the loans used to buy his land, so he left for the United States in search of temporary work on August 24, 1925. In January 1931 Ramírez was picked up by the San Joaquin County, California, police and sent to the Stockton State Hospital with a diagnosis of manic depression (later changed to “dementia praecox, catatonic form,” now known as schizophrenia). Transferred to the DeWitt State Hospital in Auburn, California, in 1948, he remained institutionalized until his death on February 17, 1963. After the artist’s arrival at DeWitt, psychologist Dr. Tarmo Pasto noticed Ramírez’s drawings and provided the artist with a steady supply of paper and pencils, preserved his work and arranged exhibitions.
Horse and Rider has been granted clear title by the artist's estate.