Past STaR Horses
Horses that have left us, but whose bright lights shine on...
The Rainbow Bridge
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together....
(Thanks to some of our past STaR Horses' favourite persons for their insightful contributions!)
It is no accident that we have loads of pictures of Kiwi - this gentle chestnut girl was for many years the backbone of our program with her gentle, stable and trustworthy nature.
Pictured here enjoying some sunshine on a warmer fall day, Kiwi lived with us for a number of years to a very ripe old age.
Kiwi was deeply loved by all, but had a special connection with our STaR farrier Connie, who always found time to take Kiwi out to eat some fresh grass.
We talk about some people having a calling in life. In Sierra’s case, she was a horse with a calling in life. She originally came to the barn as a horse for the regular lesson program and was a total failure. The pony manager was ready to recommend selling her, but thought she could have one last chance and try out as a STaRS horse. After a bit of training, she was soon a success and became one of the mainstays of the STaRS program. She clearly loved the work and the riders, instructors, and volunteers. Going out on the road with people all around her and a special needs rider on her back seemed to give Sierra a true purpose in life. She only had one fault – she loved to walk quickly and her volunteers laughed about their “Sierra muscles” as keeping her to a sedate walk could be challenging. Another area in which she shone was natural horsemanship; head STaRS instructor Megan McDonald worked with her a lot on this, and a couple of the volunteers did join-up and natural horsemanship clinics with her. Many tears were shed the day Sierra died.
Quincee was a doll. She had a long life that brought so much joy to many people's lives. Before she came to us, she had already had a beautiful career teaching dressage to many people and was even trained to be ridden in a side-saddle. When she started her career with STaRS, she continued to bring joy to a whole new set of people. She was incredibly well loved by both her STaRS students and volunteers as well as being a known favourite with our head STaRS instructor. She left some very big (horse)shoes behind that have yet to be filled.
Katana was that special horse with just enough extra bells and whistles for our experienced STaRS students to be challenged and enjoy furthering their horsemanship skills. She kept them on their toes with her spit and vinegar, which was just part of her sneaky bag of tricks to challenge her riders, for there was a squishy little soppy sap in there who enjoyed her private cuddles, care and attention from those special few she deemed worthy.
Chico entered our lives in 2001 when he was already nineteen years old. He had had a very full life as a Pony Club pony, specializing in Prince Phillip Games (mounted games on horseback) and jumping. He was well loved, and it showed, as he was the sweetest little guy imaginable. He settled right in to the more sedate life of a school pony, and soon we were using him for STaRS, as he was completely un-flappable! For the last eight years of his life he taught many children to ride, and inspired all of us with his lovely, accepting personality.
If Pico had been royalty, he would have been described as a man “with a past”. But as equine royalty, he was a prince of a horse, and he certainly had a past. Pico, a handsome black with a distinctive hoof pick-shaped blaze, was in his 30 years, a successful jumper, a police horse, a parade horse, a pleasure horse and of course a STARS horse.
He was also, the story goes, a man about Southlands, who on occasion, escaped his barn at night to go visiting the neighbour ladies... Keep an eye out for any hoofpick-shaped blazes in the neighbourhood!
But it was his career as a police horse, then a STARS horse, that Pico made his most notable contributions.
Pico came to STARS at the end of his long service with the Vancouver Police Mounted Squad and he quickly became the favourite with STARS staff and students that he had been with his police colleagues. He was a gentle horse who never put a foot wrong, no matter what was asked of him, and he always performed for the safety and enjoyment of his students. Pico did not like leaving the barn without a horse “friend” along, unless it was for a STARS lesson, when he would happily walk all over Southlands caring for his young riders. He was so reliable that he was frequently ridden in Remembrance Day parades, when he was reunited with his old pals in the mounted squad (and could show off some of his new favourite people such as the awesome Larry Emrick in full military gear). Pico was with STARS for about five years when he finally retired from his life-time of service at nearly 30 years of age. He then went back to live with his friends in the Police Mounted Squad at their barn in Stanley Park.
Shanaz was our quirky grey Arab with a heart of gold. A senior citizen with a contagious zest for life, he transitioned into the STaRs program nicely as we tried to convince him to start taking life at a slightly slower pace. He thrived at having a new job that suited perfectly his abilities. His winning personality stole the hearts of many of our students.. His trusty ability to read his students and their abilities meant he had the unique capability to taylor his lessons so they always got the most out of every ride.