The owner of a talented four-star horse who was put down this week aged 26 has paid tribute to her “very special” friend.

Teveri, known at home as “Rio”, competed at the Sydney 2000 Olympics and 2002 World Equestrian Games (WEG) under Brazilian rider Vicente De Araujo.

The gelding had worked in a riding school until he was eight before starting his eventing career.

He was bought by Amanda Ratcliffe in 2002 and the combination went on to compete at Badminton, the Toyko 2007 Olympic test event and numerous three-stars across Europe.

He travelled “around the world and back again” during his competitive years.

After retiring from top-level competition in 2009, he remained in work as a schoolmaster to some young riders.

Amanda then decided to give him to her former head girl Katie Guppy as a wedding gift.

“When I got married, Amanda was my maid of honour,” Katie told H&H.

“She said ‘I’ve left your present behind your parents’ painting in the lounge’.

“We went back there the next day and there was a card and in it was written that Rio was my wedding gift. I think we all burst into tears.”

Katie said she had a bond with the horse as she had cared for him since his arrival from Brazil, and that he could be tricky to handle.

“I remember [Amanda and I] were both watching the Sydney Olympics and seeing Rio and thinking ‘that horse is a saint’.

“I couldn’t believe this little chestnut Arab had just flown round the Olympic track having a whale of a time.”

Amanda went to compete on another horse at the 2002 WEG in Jerez, which is where she bought the gelding.

“She came back and said ‘you’re never going to guess what I’ve bought’,” added Katie.

I remember being totally ecstatic because he was phenomenal.”

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Rio arrived with warnings about his aggressive behaviour but Katie spent hours handling him and hand-feeding him.

He also struck-up an unlikely friendship with the yard pygmy goat, Roger, and the pair would play-fight.

“If we ever couldn’t find Roger, he would be curled up in Rio’s hay,” said Katie. “They were real characters.”

Katie added he never lost his attitude, but became more loving in his later years.

“I have never met another horse like him,” she said.

“He didn’t want to hurt you, he wanted you to be aware of how special he was.”

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