Maple Hill Rio
15 July 1970 - 12 June 1999

"Somewhere, somewhere . . . in time's own space
there must be some sweet, pastured place
Where creeks sing on -
and tall trees grow,
some paradise where horses go.
For by the love that guides my pen,
I know great horses live again."
- Stanley Harrison

I guess I always knew that Rio wouldn't live forever, but somehow I hoped he would. I read articles about the search for America's oldest horse - he was 42, I think - with encouragement. I hoped, without  logic, that he would be with me forever. 

Rio and I had many great times together. He was my first horse, the culmination of years of dreaming and pestering my parents. We had learned to ride together and gone to our first show together. I still remember the sunny spring day in May 1980 when we made the trip to our first horse show. Imagine my delight when all the work I had done - for anyone with a white horse knows the work definitely doesn't end at riding! - paid off and I brought home several ribbons. We continued to show in many events over the years, winning numerous awards along the way, but I still have those ribbons from that 4-H Show at Bud Steeves' - they mean more than the trophies or the year end awards that came along later.

Rio was a great comfort during those difficult times that life always brings. He was an amazing friend who never told any secrets. He stood patiently while I cried into his neck and poured out my troubles. He was there in all my life's triumphs and defeats. He taught me lessons of responsibility and patience. He had an incredibly willing spirit. Rio was ten before he ever entered a show ring. However, he keenly learned everything from halter classes to western pleasure, english pleasure, and trail. We even tried our  hand at games... earning national points in pole bending.

When I began coaching, I knew that I could count on Rio to safely and patiently introduce young riders to the joy of horses. I was right. He was always the favourite with the many youngsters who brought him carrots and other goodies every time they visited the barn. We even threw him a birthday party on his twenty-fifth birthday - complete with ice cream cake (he always loved ice cream!) and cards! He stood for endless grooming, and even though his vision was fading, never spooked when someone forgot to speak when moving around him or fell off the bucket they stood on to reach his back with a soft brush.

I miss Rio, but I have many wonderful memories of nearly twenty-one years of devoted friendship. I remember his soft muzzle, which smelled like no other. I remember the brown ears with the white tips that I could see when I rode him. I remember his gentle nicker whenever I walked into the barn. Rio will always be with me in through these and many other treasured memories... in that way, will be together forever.

~ Donna Sears


Heartfelt thanks goes to:

Kim & Michel Belzile and the staff at Saddlebrook Stables
Dr. Stringel and the staff at the Atlantic Veterinary College
Dr. Randy Hayward of Community Animal Hospital
Stacey Maxwell of Rosewood Arabians
Family & Friends
Thank you for your support during a difficult time.


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