As far back as I can remember, I loved horses. I remember wishing for a pony and a little sister as a child, but never got either one. I watched horses from afar, but other than horses that pulled carriages in parks, never had much opportunity to be around them.
I married a rancher’s son when I was 26, and the whole family rode. I brushed the horses now and again, but I was afraid to ride them and was even nervous being around them on the ground. I longed to have a connection with them like I did with smaller animals, but it just didn’t seem that was going to happen. Then one day, my father-in-law (Harvey) came down his driveway pulling the horse trailer, and out of that trailer stepped the prettiest horse I had ever seen. I took one look at that beautiful quarter horse gelding and knew I could learn to ride.
He was a gorgeous, beautifully muscled blood red bay with the prettiest star on his forehead. His name was Tivio Dee Bar, but we called him Trigger. He was 13 years old and had been a stallion until the previous year when a friend of Harvey’s bought him for his personal riding horse and gelded him. He had been a multi champion working cow horse in California, and had been imported into Alberta a few years before to stand at stud in Red Deer. He had sustained stress injuries from competition, though, and could no longer carry a 250 pound passenger and ride the hills working cattle. Harvey asked his friend to let Trigger retire and take care of me so that I could join the family trail rides on a safe mount. Trigger had impeccable manners under saddle, and could be stopped by yelling “whoa” from the ground. I would be as safe with him as it was possible to be on a horse.
I found a riding instructor, and work began in earnest. I am not a person who is content with being average at things, but riding was really challenging for me. I had little natural talent and lots of fear, but Trigger was kind. He was the type of horse you would never outgrow and would adapt to his rider’s skills. He was a great horse if you knew what you were doing (as his competitive record proved), but he took care of this novice rider. I loved him, and I believe he loved me. He was absolutely what I needed to develop the competence, and much later, the confidence, to ride.
A couple of years later, I discovered the fire and nobility of the Peruvian Horse, and they have become my passion. However, Trigger remained with us, and I rode him occasionally until his death at the age of 20. I loved him until the day he died, and was with him stroking his neck when that happened. My life was changed by Harvey and Trigger, and I will be forever grateful for the day that Harvey talked his friend into providing me with one of the best friends I will ever have.
It is my fervent desire that each of us finds the “Trigger” in our lives to ignite that passion.