Hero Horse No 15 – Janeiro V1 (AKA Rio)

Rio was an extraordinary horse as his rider and friend Sophie Christiansen CBE will testify.

Here, the triple Paralympic Champion, double World Champion and triple European Champion gives her own moving tribute to her much loved horse.

What I loved most about him was his personality. He was so cheeky with everyone else but he always looked after me.

He taught me so much about trust and mindset, about not trying too hard. Once I mastered that, we flew. He showed the calibre of horse which a grade 1 could form a partnership with. Our personal best and world record of 84.75% in the London 2012 freestyle will take some going to beat. What an honour, to share the best moment of my life with my best friend. Here he is, in all his glory –

I’d like to thank Eilberg Dressage for recommending him to us and believing that he was “the one”, Ronnie Wilkie and Alan Carr for fundraising for me to buy him (my first horse!), Clive, South Bucks RDA and the team behind the team who all enabled us to reach our potential.

After his retirement in 2017, Rio became a schoolmaster for young para riders, cared for by Jo Alderton-Whitwoth and Jane Alderton, competing at the Riding for the Disabled Association national championships, and winning there in 2018.

It is with sadness that I have to report that Rio has passed away. He was put down earlier this month due to his long-term fetlock issues. He was 23. Gone, but never ever forgotten.

Thank you does not seem enough.

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