Skip to content

Beloved equestrian coach 'had everything and lost it to drugs'

'She was a wonderful teacher. She had an infectious personality and was the most fun person in the world to be with,' says heartbroken mother
Erin Amos, shown with her twin boys, McLain and Malone, died Saturday. She operated 'the most successful equine business in Simcoe County.'

Mary Louise Amos is calling the death of her daughter, Erin Amos, "a story of a girl who had everything and lost it to drugs."

Erin, an Orillia native, was the founder of Top of the Hill Farm in Oro-Medonte. She was a championship-calibre equestrian rider, coach, and line handler.

"She always had a passion for horses," Mary Louise said. "She rode ponies as a kid and was buying and selling horses for herself and other people at auctions by the time she was 16."

Erin began riding when she was three years old. She was coached and mentored by the "love of her life," Cathy Inch, from Sudbury. She graduated from Park Street Collegiate Institute and went on to attend the equestrian program at the Kemptville campus of the University of Guelph.

She coached for numerous barns before opening her own business out of a tent until the state-of-the-art arena was built on her family farm in Oro-Medonte in 1998.

"We started out on the front lawn," Mary Louise recalled. "She never looked back from there and had, in my estimation, the most successful equine business in Simcoe County."

The Amos family has numerous ribbons to prove its success. Erin and her students boasted championships at provincial and international competitions in Virginia and Florida.

"She had a dream of breeding good horses and winning the General Governor’s/Lieutenant Governor’s Cup at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair," Mary Louise said. "We won numerous ribbons, but the best we ever placed there was third."

In 2015, when Erin was 35, she gave birth to her twin boys, McLain and Malone. The father of the children has never been in the picture, Mary Louise said.

As a child, Erin swam with the Orillia Channel Cats and suffered a shoulder injury. The injury never healed properly and was a constant source of pain for her. It got worse after carrying twins and following years of working in a barn setting.

"As she got older, it got worse and worse," Mary Louise said. "She tried and tried to get the medical community to help her."

Erin had a spinal stenosis, a torn rotator cuff, and circulation issues in one of her arms. Mary Louise could never gauge how much pain her daughter was in.

"It slipped away from us," she said. "It slipped her into major problems."

Erin began taking Percocet and oxycodone to help with her pain. At the same time, she began teaching less often and started distancing herself from the barn. At that time, Mary Louise was recovering from a hip replacement and was relying on Erin to care for her, buy groceries, and pay her bills using her bank cards.

Once it was too late, Mary Louise realized her daughter had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of her money on drugs. In October 2022, Mary Louise watched her daughter pull out of the driveway with a friend; it was the last time she ever saw Erin.

"I never dreamt that she wouldn't come back home," she said. "It was a temporary thing, and her boys were going to stay with a girlfriend, where they would be well taken care of while she was going to Sudbury for rehab."

Mary Louise expected life to eventually return to normal after a bump in the road, but in December 2023, Erin left rehab. She was homeless while chasing after a love interest in Orillia who had previously broken up with her after a five-year-plus relationship.

"She just went more and more downhill from there," she said. "It's a sad story."

Erin Amos, the founder of Top of the Hill Farm in Oro-Medonte, died Feb. 18. | Supplied photo

Despite daughter's tragic circumstances, Mary Louise hopes Erin's legacy is tied to her brighter days.

"She was a wonderful teacher," she said. "She had an infectious personality and was the most fun person in the world to be with."

Erin died Saturday. She was 44. The toxicology report has not yet revealed the cause of death, but the family believes it to be drug-related.

Mary Louise and her husband, Paul, are working to dig themselves out of the financial hole Erin has left them by leasing their barn facilities to Muskoka Horse Co.

"She loved her boys, she loved her horses, she loved her business," Mary Louise said while fighting back tears. "She was a wonderful, beautiful, talented, generous and loving daughter."

Simcoe North MPP Jill Dunlop, whose daughters were taught by Erin for nearly 16 years, says Erin was a loving and hard-working person.

"She created a family atmosphere at the barn," she said. "She helped to mould young and confident women."

Dunlop says Erin instilled a strong work ethic and teamwork skills into every one of her clients.

"As much as equestrian may seem like an individual sport, Erin always made sure that it was a team sport in that barn," she said. "The girls were all there to support one another and to be together for the same purpose while having fun."

She says Erin touched the lives of many of her students.

"I hope she recognized that while with us," she said. "She played a crucial role in those young people's lives."

Dunlop says Erin's death and the circumstances surrounding it are devastating for the community.

"The girls looked up to Erin and idolized her. She mentored so many young people and had such a great impact on them," she said.

A GoFundMe has been created to help McLain and Malone, who has cerebral palsy, receive care and one day attend college or university. The fundraising goal is $25,000, and more than $11,000 has already been raised.

Mary Louise and her family thank the community for their support.

Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
Read more