In Loving Memory of Rio

Marilyn Riding Rio

I guess life isn’t always sunshine and roses – having as many four legged friends as we have, it comes to us more often than to most of you to have to say goodbye to one of them. This happened a while back to us, when a much loved horse called Rio went to the pasture in the sky.


Rio had a registered name, but we called him Rio because of the crooked blaze meandering down his forehead and nose, reminding one of a river. He was a lot of horse – tall, strong and fast. Originally Gerry had bought him for a frequent guest by name of Jesse, who had come here from New York many times, and who had eventually moved to Tucson. Having moved to the west, Jesse wanted a horse of his own, and, as we, at the time (somewhat misguidedly), used to let some people own their own horses, Gerry went to the sale, and came back with Rio. He was then about then 3 years old, and Jesse was delighted with him. Jesse was not a very experienced rider, but Rio soon took care of that. Because he owned the horse, we let him take rides by himself, not a very wise policy, as it turned out. Rio often ran away with Jesse, and he threw him with maddening regularity – once he ran him into some prickly pear cactus and then dumped him on top of it, and I remember many times when Jesse came back a chastened man. However, Rio eventually made a rider of him!

Over the years Jesse came less often due to ill health, and finally we bought Rio from him, and he became more and more a “string horse” – meaning that he took out guests. Only good riders, mind you! He was always, as Gerry said, “A lot of horse”. I rode him at round-up one day, and I remember vividly deciding that it was not the best thing to do unless you wanted to cross five miles of pasture in two minutes flat. Another time I wrangled a trail ride to the Chiricahua National Monument. I had only two riders, a married couple, and they were both pretty good riders. The man was riding Rio. Crossing the meadow just beyond the Faraway Ranch, we broke into a lope. That is, the lady and I broke into a lope – Rio broke into a gallop, and a fast gallop at that. I remember yelling at the guy, “Circle him, circle him”, which he eventually did, and the drama was over, but it was a good reminder that Rio was, always, “A lot of horse”.

The years went by and Rio aged, and the inevitable day came when he left us for the pasture in the sky, where he is with all his friends, and where I hope to go one day and be with them all.

One of his riders, Marilyn, e-mailed me the following tribute to Rio. He deserves it.

In Memory of Rio

Those happy hours that you patiently carried me over the Arizona hills of Grapevine Canyon I will always cherish, and even the day you took off to compete in the games and deposited me on the ground when we were only supposed to be watching! Always competitive to the last.

Little did I realize how ill you were when we visited at Christmas/New Year 2008-09, to return this year to be told you had moved on to that big corral in the sky.

As I rode over those same trails this year with Sabino as my trusty mount, I remembered you with fondness and sang some of the old songs we had shared along the trail.

Happy trails, my trusted steed. In my memory always, Marilyn

And I guess you can’t say more about a horse than that!

And onto more cheerful stuff – Valentine’s is coming up, so let me tell you about the fabulous Valentine’s Day special we’re running this year! Come and enjoy the best of romantic holidays, with flowers, chocolates and champagne in your room, and, if you book the Chaparral, then your own hot tub as well, in the privacy of the canyon. What could be better than to make your vows – or renew them – in this special place! And don’t forget that our rates are “all inclusive” now, and by that I mean ALL inclusive. This means that the rate the office gives you already includes all taxes and service charge/gratuity, call it what you will – nothing more to pay! We think that’s rather neat, and certainly hassle free!

Our new bookkeeper, Susanne, has moved in with her family, with whom she drove down for three long days from Montana. The family consists of three small dogs, an old cat and a parrot – plus a lot of necessary worldly goods, all stuffed into a little car which should be used as an advertisement for the breed. We are glad she is here, out of all that cold, and it looks as if she is also.


Of course, my dog Tuffy didn’t take too kindly to this invasion by strange canines, and a lot of unnecessary and inhospitable growling and barking and yowling was heard for a while, but, by the silence which reigns today, I think Tuff has established the proper pecking order. I often think, when watching animals – by far my favorite pastime – how honest they are. None of this “How nice to see you”, while you think “Argh, I can’t believe it! What a waste of time!” Instead, a good, solid, honest growl and a bite, and everyone knows where they stand. Just think how much better it would be if, at a cocktail party, for instance, instead of the above insincerities, you could just back your ears in good horsy fashion, squeal, and paw with one foot – everyone would know instantly where they stood with you!

Well, that’s my bit of philosophy for the day – so take care, and until next time!

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One Response to In Loving Memory of Rio

  1. Claudia says:

    Another one of those beautyful articles. And I do remember Rio, he was only allowed doing walking rides so he would not gallop through the desert:) he was a wonderful horse.

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