Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Beverly Brady, Equine Massage

Introducing Beverly Brady, an Equine Massage, Rehabilitation and Biomechanics Specialist. From Milan, Indiana, USA, Beverly shares insights to her amazing techniques and naturalistic approach to equine management...

Welcome, Beverly!

What is equine Biomechanics? 
Biomechanics is basically Moving Correctly - according to the skeletal structure of the horse - what is correct for them/comfortable. I teach 'eyeballing' to my students, to see correctness - or Biomechanics.

Does equine massage play a role in equine Biomechanics?
Absolutely, if a horse is sore in one area, it can affect movement there, and also in other areas. So they do not build correctly - ie, if a shoulder is off, that will not build as well as the opposite shoulder and can cause saddle problems. 

It is extremely important to know correctness, or many times after a massage the horse will go right back to how it was.  For example, if a horse is consistently worked in draw reins, the neck will have spasms as well as the shoulders, and he will be locked up in the front, with little to no muscles on the hind end. 

If you don't know this 'scenario' (lion in front, mouse in back) then you won't know to ask if the rider is using draw reins, and to request them to work with you under saddle...and without them - allowing the horse to stretch his neck down and FORWARD and start building the hind end! If they go right back to using the draw reins, the horse's neck will never get better and the massage therapist will get irritated because the horse isn't getting better, and the client tells all her friends that 'massage doesn't work'.

What is the most important factor in choosing a saddle? 
Fit. It must fit your horse. 

What role does a saddle pad play in horse Biomechanics?
The saddle pad should be there to keep the saddle clean, not to make the saddle fit. That would be like buying socks to make your shoes fit. 

What can I do daily to help my horse's balance and coordination?
Learn how to ride correctly-study Biomechanics to get the horse to use himself and build correct muscles. 

What is Kinesiology? 
Muscle testing - being able to test, using muscles to find out what makes the horse stronger/weaker/and finding out what is wrong with them using this technique. 

What techniques do you use to help a horse with an ornery disposition?
Most 'attitude problems' are from pain and soreness, it's very rare to find a horse that is just plain mean.

Follow Beverly...

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Amalâ and Asâ

Amalâ and Asâ: 
New Marwari Fillies of Can Riu, Spain
By Gina McKnight
1st Publication Going Gaited 2011
 On May 17, 2011, new filly, Amalâ, entered this world at the beautiful Can Riu Stud Farm. Following on May 23, her half-sister, Asâ, was born. Amalâ and Asâ are from India’s indigenous royal Marwari horse breed.  They are two of the few fillies born outside of India. The fillies are owned by Mario Calcagno, equestrian and proprietor of Can Riu Stud Farm.  They are healthy, happy and enjoying the rolling hillsides and warm Mediterranean breezes. Amalâ (meaning pure) and Asâ (meaning hope) are adorable; big brown eyes, lovely lashes, and wobbly legs!

Can Riu, located 60 km north of Barcelona, is nestled in the beautiful Montnegre Natural Park region.  Calcagno’s secluded stud farm stables two Marwari mares, Chamunda and Mirabai, as well as the spirited Marwari stallion, Nazarullah.  In October 2009, Calcagno acquired all three horses from America’s famous Marwari horse breeder, Francesca Kelly.  In 2000, Kelly imported the first Marwari horse to America and continues to play a vital role in Marwari promotion and preservation.

Born to Mirabai and Nazarullah, Amalâ is the first Marwari filly at Can Riu.  Asâ, the second filly, foaled by Chamunda, also sired by Nazarullah.  Both fillies mimic their mare’s disposition and coloring.  “Nazarullah, the stallion, is 7 years old, pie (color) practically black.  He is now in the Pyrenees (high mountains) training for endurance.  Chamunda (bay) and Mirabai (pie black and white) are both 4 years old,” Calcagno said.  “The newborn fillies are really fine; both practically exact copy of their mothers, not only in color but also in their personality.  Amalâ, from Mirabai, is very active and curious, and her mother spends all the time running after her.  Asâ is more timid, and stays all the time close to her mother, Chamunda.”
Facing extinction in the 1930’s Marwari are currently considered ‘threatened’ by the Indian Government.  Great efforts have been taken to bring the breed back into population.  Centuries ago, only a few thousand purebred Marwari existed.  Due to the efforts of India’s great equestrians, Marwari are being repopulated.  However, the exportation of Marwari from India has been banned.  In 1997, the Indigenous Stud Book Society was created to register and census India’s native horses.  The Society is paneled by equine experts and horse breeders who are committed to protecting the breed.

The Marwari are a result of years of selective breeding to produce the ultimate ‘war’ horse – a combination of speed, stamina and courage.  Mr. Gajjar, Indian horse breeder and Marwari expert states, “Many years ago, Arabian horses were bred with ponies from north-western India, creating the Marwari. They found a place in the Rajput Cavalry and were used for war.”  Today, Marwari are known worldwide for their war-like maneuverability; consummate gait and legendary stance.

One of the distinguishing features of the Marwari is their arching ears, sometimes compared to an ancient lyre, delicately curving inward.  “When annoyed their ears lay back like every other horse. When alert the ears turn forward and usually touch at the tips forming an arch,” says Gajjar.  Arching ears are just one of their natural traits. They are also revered for their quiet ride, gentle disposition and resilient nature. There is no parallel for the Marwari.  They are the perfect companion; dignified, powerful and the subject of India’s great horse anthologies.

Gajjar states that the birth of the fillies in Europe “is a positive step forward in increasing the number of Marwari horses around the world.”  Calcagno also agrees that “the access of Marwari horses to foreign countries will definitely contribute to the preservation of the breed and motivate local breeders in India to improve the quality and care of the horses.”

Calcagno is excited about the two new additions and plans for future foals by stallion Nazarullah.  Increasing the number of Marwari in Europe helps to protect the lineage and increase awareness of this magnificent breed.
The Marwari have found a complacent home in the quaint European countryside. Today, the fillies are almost four months old and are content as the center of attention at Can Riu.  Their lineage, agility, beauty and grace will assure them a lifetime of protection and optimum care.  The natural surroundings of the Montnegre Natural Park region support the perfect setting for the new royalty; loving owners, quiet woodlands and seaside excursions.  Calcagno takes great pride in his ability to preserve and protect the Marwari.

Congratulations to Calcagno and the family of horses at Can Riu!

Follow Mario Calcagno @ Can Riu

2013 Update: The fillies are currently owned by Elsa Treuil from Marwari France. 

Gina McKnight is a freelance writer from USA.
Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Jewels of Antiquity

Marwari of USA: Jewels of Antiquity
Dr. Maria Katsamanis, Horse Trainer & Clinical Psychologist

By Gina McKnight
1st Publication Going Gaited 2012

The New Jersey arena is filled with emotions, heartbeats and reflections this morning.  In training is Alohaj, a noble Arabian stallion owned by Hemlock Crest Arabians.  The mirrors along the arena wall reflect a perfect image of trainer and equine.  The morning sun through the arena window imports stellar rays of warmth and sundust.  Alohaj has come to Dr. Maria Katsamanis, Horse Trainer & Clinical Psychologist, for a course in ambitious groundwork that will re-establish his connectivity to maintaining emotional balance as well as physical comfort.

Dr. Katsamanis maintains an academic appointment as a Clinical Assistant Professor at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Jersey USA, as well as Horse Trainer and Riding Coach.  Her training emphasizes maximizing a positive self-carriage for both the horse and rider.  Her philosophy for optimum equestrian pleasure focuses on equine and human physiology.  Horses and riders attending Dr. Katsamanis’ clinics receive tailored treatment depending upon their physical profile, personality and overall disposition.

Dr. Katsamanis embraces all horse breeds into her training and visits stables around the world. Hailing from Greece, she has been schooled in the classical, natural art of horse training; the idea that respect is created and maintained between horse and rider through clarity of intent, awareness of self-carriage and mutual respect, creating a deep bond and love between horse and human.

Xenophon, the Greek horseman of antiquities, wrote on the importance of your horse as a partner, not a slave.  “You must ask yourself, what can I do to be my horse’s best partner? Why would he want to dance with me? How can I grow in this relationship? What are the learnings that this relationship is bringing to me?  This relationship being no different than all those one creates with others, spouses, parents and colleagues.”

Recently, Dr. Katsamanis visited the stables of Ms. Francesca Kelly, Martha’s Vineyard USA, owner of Marwari horses.  Marwari are an indigenous breed to India and their exportation is currently limited due to low census. The opportunity to work with Marwari has been a long desire of Dr. Katsamanis. 

“My time with Francesca was incredible,” says Dr. Katsamanis.  “When I was invited to Francescas, I felt compelled to go.  I went as a horse trainer because I wanted to learn and experience the horses up close.  I had never worked with them before.  Ms. Kelly, the patroness of the breed, extended the invitation to what was an elegant and unforgettable journey. As a horsewoman she has allowed her horses to be horses. I rode her horses bareback with rope halters over sand mounds and into the sea; it was amazing…very phenomenal! Their reliability, tractability, high intelligence and kind nature left me wanting more.  I found myself missing them long after I left Martha’s Vineyard.  I had bonded.  I am Greek, so I was impressed with the simplicity and elegance.”
Marwari are known for their beautiful confirmation, angelic grace and strong confidence.   Dr. Katsamanis describes Marwari as the ‘jewels of antiquity’, confirming their royal heritage as one of India’s most beautiful resources.  The Marwari are part of the old world of horse mythology and folklore.  One of the oldest breeds in existence, Marwari bring a legacy of unforgettable appeal and tradition to horsemanship. Dr. Katsamanis welcomes the opportunity to work with Marwari, identifying their unique place in the world of horses.

Marwari, like all equines, are spiritual by nature.  Dr. Katsamanis explains, “If you are having a bad day and you go into a stall with a horse, the horse creates a ‘torus’, a circle of energy that embraces us.  Horses have a heart five times larger than ours, emitting electro-magnetic signals.  This is what creates the ‘torus’. This electro-magnetic field has a wingspan five times greater than our own.  It is in this space that their heart pattern, being an electrical wave, can affect our own heart rhythms.  Perhaps it is through this, our heart connection that we bond and communicate. There is a lot of healing through horses – from the horse to man.  Horses have healing power; the healing comes from the connection we have with animals.  When we are connected with the horse, the creation of a magical electrical circuit is likely to arise. Horses have a slower heart rate than we do. Their on/off alarm button has been refined because of their prey status, so that they are great role models for us to learn how to manage our own levels of stress and alertness.  That is one way that they help us heal.  On another level, physically being in their space promotes emotional and physical healing via the electro-magnetic force created by their heart resonance.” Science proves that this unseen connection between horses and humans creates a catalyst for motivation, confidence, increased self-esteem and overall well-being.  This phenomenon has been documented and tested through years of research.  Horses have healing power.

“We need to go back to nature, back to basics in life and in our training of horses.  Simplicity is key.  You see more and more that people are drawn to activities that connect them to the earth.  Being around horses is grounding.  There is a meditative component to the seemingly mundane rituals of things as simple as grooming.  The mental health community even endorsed Equine Assisted Psychotherapy as a viable psychological approach to emotional and mental distress*.  In that spirit, I do a lot of groundwork to establish communication on the groundwork and then taking it to the saddle. We waste a lot of chatter on what we want the horse to do instead of letting the horse show us what it is capable of.  It is about allowing them to show us who they are, how they wish to be ridden, and what they have to teach us.  Honoring that means being prepared to see changes in other areas of your life.” says Dr. Katsamanis.  Being conscious of our body language and breathing behavior creates a blueprint in establishing the horse-human relationship. 

Mr. Gajjar, Freelance Equestrian Trainer and Riding Instructor from India, is an acquaintance of Dr. Katsamanis.  Mr. Gajjar states, “I have particularly admired Maria’s training methods as she is very patient with her horses. Lots of groundwork does give you a wonderful horse and that is exactly what Maria emphasizes on. I am happy to hear that a Marwari will soon be making their way to her stables and it will be a new experience for her as a trainer. Maria plans to conduct equine training workshops in India soon, which I will help her organize and I am sure many horse owners here will be happy to learn about her ways of training and the importance given to groundwork."

Helene Hylander shares her joy of being one of Dr. Katsamanis’ students.  Helene writes, “I am a breast and colon cancer survivor with many disabilities.  Wear back and knee braces so I can ride. Maria is giving our 19 yr old quarter horse paint mare Cassie and me a canter/stop lesson here preparing us for our trail ride for the cure October 16, 2011. I am Cassie's 4th owner and 3rd breast cancer survivor. My husband David and I adopted her two years ago from a field. Maria has been working with us from the beginning. Using Maria's body awareness, groundwork and in-hand training methods have helped both of us come to this point in time. No braces!!!! And a balanced horse!!!”

Marwari, the ‘jewels of antiquity’, have arrived at Dr. Katsamanis New Jersey arena.  They are experiencing her talent as a trainer, her wisdom as a clinical psychologist, and her undivided love for life.  Her Greek ancestors would be honored by her commitment and compassion to classical horsemanship and healing.  The Marwari, as well as other horses in Dr. Katsamanis’ arena, will receive affirmation of the importance of trust, the key components of balance and the commitment of comfort for both horse and rider.  With a smile and confidence in her abilities to proclaim the joys of horsemanship, Dr. Katsamanis states, “A commitment to kindness and deep connection – a classical formula for your dream ride, your dream life.”

Follow Dr. Katsamanis
At the time of publication, Dr. Katsamanis was a freelance equine trainer, providing services on location at Pennfields Farm Arena & Equine Facility, Pamela Rosenborg/PnR Training LLC, Owner. Many thanks to Ms. Rosenborg.

*See the American Psychological Association, Division 17 Animal Assisted Psychotherapies: or EAGALA (

1st Publication Going Gaited 2012. All Rights Reserved. 
Gina McKnight, Freelance Writer, USA

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Alaska Chick

Mountain Horses
Alaskan Wilderness Adventure
by Gina McKnight
1st Publication Going Gaited @2012
2nd Publication A Love for Horses @Jan 2013

Tiny is an ebony Alaskan range horse.  She is a working herd mare thriving in a fly-in area deep in the Chisana, Alaska interior, site of the last historic gold rush.  Tiny is a mere 17 hands, towering her peers, humans and select tundra. A docile mare, most of the time, she works for Pioneer Outfitters hauling confident guides, adventurous tourists and sometimes the occasional traditional pack commodities.

Amber-Lee Dibble is guide and Manager of Pioneer Outfitters.  Hailing from Sherman, New York, Amber-Lee was raised on a dairy farm; now, she is living her dream.  She is good friends with Tiny. They respect each other and their assigned roles as outdoor wilderness guides.  Amber-Lee says, “I am a farm girl. I have always been proud of that and loved the fact that I could say that.  While others of the same young age were partying, studying or planning for whatever future they hoped for and dreamed of, I knew exactly where I was headed and what I would do. In the Paint Horse Journal I found my dream - Alaska. An article about Pioneer Outfitters Master Guide Terry Overly was a hope and wish.” After communication with Terry, Amber-Lee was soon on her way to meeting Alaskan range horses, realizing her dream and melding with the vast Alaskan landscape.

Pioneer Outfitters offer horseback adventures for all experience levels and age groups.  Horses are their livelihood.  Amber-Lee explains, “Our horses are one of the favorite things about my life! Our horses are range horses, which means for seven and half months a year they are wild.  They free range in the enormous Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve.  They are as tough as they come.  They live in the wild, fight off timber wolves, are intimately knowledgeable of the terrain and are the most sure-footed horses I have ever experienced riding.  They carry our gear so we can offer our guests and clients comfortable camps; across rivers, through bogs, over mountains, and over hundreds of miles of Alaskan wilderness.”

Currently looking for more stock to add to their herd, Pioneer Outfitters has certain equine requirements. “We are looking for short and stocky, all ass and no body. We like mountain horses; big-footed, short-coupled, short-backed, between 900 to 1,200 pounds, 14.5 to 15.5 hands, short-necked, heavy-boned, with an average shoe size of 2 to 3.” That is a mighty horse! Their stalwart horses must brave the Alaskan flora and fauna as well as become the perfect companion for a non-native adventurist.

Amber-Lee explains that their horses are not ‘pets’.  “We like the horses that would rather not have anything to do with us, the barn and the yards. The horses are important to us, not only as an important part of the business and the history of the area, but because they are our partners. They do amazing things for us, just because we ask.”

Brawny bridles, tightened cinches, ready scabbards and anxious tourists prepare to traipse the magnificent Alaskan void. The event of a lifetime begins with a connection to your assigned horse. Amber-Lee schools visitors on the disposition of their mount as well as Alaska’s offering of cold weather, vivacious wildlife and extreme beauty.  Amber-Lee says, “A guide, whether a hunting or horse pack trip guide, has more to do with the client than anyone else.  A guide must know all options and answers. In our remote and inaccessible world, a guide must show no fear or worry. The well being and safety of the client and horses come first. Chaos does happen and the guide has to be able to react quickly, decisively, calmly and autocratically.”

Amber-Lee may be small in stature, but she is certainly big on her love for horses, her good sense of humor and strong sense of self-worth.  With temperatures ranging from coldest to unspeakable, raising a family in Chisana is as brave and vigorous as her mountain horses. She says, “I stay because of the beauty of the land, the family I have made here and the wonder of the fact that I can sit back and say this is what I do.”

Visit Tiny, Amber-Lee and the entire herd of mountain horses in the deep Alaskan tundra.  Offerings include Summer Horseback Adventures, Fall Photo Safaris, Winter and Springtime Excursions and more, all on horseback; an equestrians dream adventure.

Follow Amber-Lee:

Gina McKnight is an author and freelance writer from USA   All rights reserved.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Beth Trissel, Author

Welcome Beth!

From the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, USA, Beth is a award-winning romance and historical author.

Married to her high school sweetheart, Beth lives on a farm surrounded by her children, grandbabies, and assorted animals. An avid gardener, her love of herbs and heirloom plants figures into her work. Fascination with the past and those who have gone before us is the driving force behind her writing…

When did you know that you wanted to become a writer?
Since I could hold a crayon. But I didn’t seriously pursue writing until later in adulthood.

What is your genre, age group/audience?

I write historical/paranormal romance and nonfiction. My audience is mostly female, but men have also written me fan letters.

Tell me about your book(s)....
The rich history of Virginia, the Native Americans and the people who journeyed here from far beyond her borders are at the heart of my inspiration. In addition to American settings, I also write historical and time travel romances set in the British Isles, and nonfiction about gardening, herbal lore, and country life.

Where do you like to write?
On the couch with my laptop and tiny (bratty) pom-poo, Sadie Sue and noble Tabby, Percy. Other kitties perch above or around me, and the larger dogs bark in the background. So it’s not always peaceful. Sometimes I retreat to my bedroom. I also listen to music as I write, prefer stirring film soundtracks.

How do you maintain characters and ideas?

I’ve gained much inspiration from all the research I’ve done into family genealogy—I’ve uncovered lots of fascinating stuff—plus historical research in general.  And dreams. Many of my stories were prompted by dreams.

What is your future goal as a writer?

To hit the NYT bestseller list, of course. Many of my books are published by the Wild Rose Press. I am also getting into Indie publishing.

Are you a night-writer, or do you write all day?

I write whenever I can direct the voices in my head.

In your opinion, what makes a good writer?

A combination of innate talent, honing the craft, and having a story to share.

Do you have a favorite author?  

My favorite author has always been C.S. Lewis and his Chronicles of Narnia—of immense inspiration in my childhood and my life. I’m still looking for Narnia.

What advice do you have for novice writers?

Write from your heart. To that I add, because you’re going to be revising and editing that story for a very, very long time. I encourage new writers to continue to better themselves, and don’t give up.

Follow Beth
2008 Golden Heart® Finalist
2008 Winner Preditor's & Editor's Readers Poll

Publisher’s Weekly BHB Reader’s Choice Best Books of 2009 
2010 Best Romance Novel List at Buzzle
Book of the Week Five Times At LASR

Monday, January 14, 2013

Love Sonnet...

Love Sonnet To My Wife
George Hancock, 1917-1992

Who is this girl?
This woman on the pillow next to mine;
Who lies to rest beside me?
On the pillow next to mine.

This is she whose life I share
In all the things I do.

The toil that is so wearying
No chores of which are new.
The humdrum work of day goes by-
Its tedium marks the time,
Until the day is ended
And she rests on the pillow next to mine.

My arms with love reach to her;
Now man is growing bolder.
Her head must leave that pillow
And rest upon my shoulder.

Love of long years triumphs
As increase it does billow.

Sweet, blissful, and eternal love
Comes to me from that pillow.

Jay Nocera of Niche Cartoons 2012
Love Sonnet to My Wife

George Hancock, 1917-1992

I discovered this poem while sorting through my mother’s things after her passing in 1998. Faded over time, it is hand-written in perfect penmanship on a fragment of wrinkled white stationery.

The poem was buried in one of her bureau drawers amongst the old-style embroidered hankies and never-worn kidskin gloves. The original poem is now framed and preserved for the next generation.

My parents were private people and never really revealed much about their relationship to anyone. My sense is this poem was written many years ago at the mid-point of their marriage and lives.

George and Mary met at a USO dance in early 1942 in Fresno, California, then a small town in California’s Great Central Valley. They were married in April of 1942 just before my dad shipped out to Burma to serve in the Army Air Corps, Intelligence Unit. My parents did not see one another again for more than four years.

My parent’s third date was the wedding ceremony where they met to exchange vows. Before this occasion, conversation was by letter or phone. It still puzzles me how my dad proposed, but I guess he found a way.

Years later when I was nursing, one of my patients turned out to be an old Army buddy of my dad's. (Life is one big circle.) When my parents visited him, my dad’s old chum remarked, ‘…..George and Mary are as much
in love as the day they married….they skipped into the room holding hands….’

My father passed away just two months shy of my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary. In a sentimental mood, my mother once remarked that dad chose this time so he did not have to say he had been married 50 years.

I am publishing this poem to give tribute not only to my father’s poetic verses, but to an extraordinary love shared by two ordinary people during extraordinary times. 

May we all know such love before life’s end.
Shared with permission by
Marcia Hancock, Author of A Daughter's Remembrance
Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Romancing Trigger

Romancing Trigger
By Gina McKnight

Legend has it that when North America was new, horses were magical. The original North American Horse evolved from great posterity, the offspring of prized horses owned by kings and princes. The North American Horse’s ancestry can be traced back to the beginnings of antiquity; into the thick canopy of tents of the Bedouin tribe, nestled deep in the sands of the Arabian Desert.  The Spaniards coveted the Bedouin’s agile horse, capturing and transporting a few to Spain.  The Spaniards bred the Bedouin horse to Andalusian and Barb breeds, creating a magnificent stalwartly horse to be treasured throughout time. 

In the sixteenth century, the brave Spanish Conquistadores sailed with their Bedouin-mix horses to North America.  Following the Conquistadores was Christopher Columbus and his cargo of enchanting horses.  The voyages were long and dangerous for both sailors and equines. All of the horses melded together in North America’s vast terrain.  They intertwined to create a new breed – the American Horse.

Trigger was an American Horse. His original name was Golden Cloud. He was named for his beautiful golden Palomino coat and owner, Roy F. Cloud.  Trigger came into this world on a glossy July 4th morning in 1934 in sunny San Diego, California. His dam was a true American Horse and his sire, Tarzan, a Thoroughbred, from the original Conquistador linage. Tarzan was a well-known racehorse, racing in Mexico at the Caliente Racetrack.  Trigger inherited his sire’s golden good looks and his dam’s sweet disposition. His ancestry, rooted deep in American soil, was the product of Bedouin tribe posterity and Conquistador ruggedness; America’s Horse.

Stories tell that Trigger was not the average foal.  He was more agile, perceptive and keen than his stablemates. But, most of all, he was drop dead gorgeous.  He became the groom’s favorite and the love of stable hands.  After affectionate handling and beginning etiquette, Trigger was sold to Hudkins Stables, in Hollywood, California.  Hudkins Stables was the major source of equines for Hollywood’s movie industry.  Trigger was schooled by the best trainers and wranglers.  He was fashioned for nobility and groomed to be a starlet. Trigger had charisma, intelligence, screen presence, beauty and glamour.  His classy markings included his famous white blaze flowing down to his nose and left rear white stocking.  He was about two years old when he was started under saddle. 

Trigger’s movie debut was in 1938. Olivia de Havilland, the famous movie actress, fell in love with Trigger when he was her steed in “The Adventures of Robin Hood” (Warner Brothers). She starred in the film as Maid Marian.  Olivia, with her crimson medieval attire, galloped sidesaddle through Sherwood Forest in search of Robin Hood (Errol Flynn).  Trigger is mesmerizing in his movie debut, wearing a full-body caparison, as is custom for gallant medieval horses. He sashays through the movie with the utmost confidence and poise.  At only four years old, he steals the hearts of many.

Leonard Slye, aka Roy Rogers, was a new singing cowboy on the rise and needed a blockbuster icon and an obedient ride.  From Duck Run, Ohio, Rogers personified the ultimate backwoods country boy. He was an avid equestrian and horse-lover.  He was 26 years old when he met Trigger, who was four years old, at Hudkins Stables.  It was 1943. Rogers knew when he first saw Trigger that they were destined to be together. Rogers purchased Trigger for $2,500. (over $30,000 in today’s market).  It was a steep sum for Rogers at the time, so he set up a payment plan.  Rogers is later to have said that it was the best money he ever spent.  Smiley Burnette, Rogers’ cowboy movie sidekick, said that the horse was ‘quick-on-the-trigger’.  Rogers liked the name and from that day forward Golden Cloud was known as Trigger.

At 15.3 hands, Trigger made the perfect stunt horse. With his amazing good looks, he was on his way to stardom. He had a sultry, silky stance that made him stand out from all the other movie horses.  He was equine congenial and eager to please.  Stunningly photogenic with a compelling cinematic flair, Trigger was more than just a cow pony. He was an iron horse; he was a partner and a pal. He was in his element; lights, cameras, fans, pampering, quality oats and…silver studded tack. 

Apart from all of the royalty that celebrity brings, Trigger earned his keep. He was challenged with new scripts, new tricks and places to go. He was constantly bombarded with sound trucks, camera equipment, film crews, boom mikes, and the rigorous stress of working through a scripted day. Trigger was an exceptional learner.  Glenn Randall, world-famous master horse trainer, was Triggers main trainer.  Randall is famous for training the four whites (Rigel, Antares, Aldebaran, and Altair), the winning horses Charlton Heston charioted to fame in the blockbuster movie ‘Ben-Hur’ (MGM 1959).  Randall was a true horse whisperer.  He had ‘equus’, the language of the horse. His soft voice, gentle guidance and groundbreaking training techniques are still admired today.

Trigger responded instinctively to subtle hand movements and the slightest touch.  Patted twice under his mane he would back away.  Patted two inches lower from the same spot; he would rear to his famous pose. Seldom using reins, Rogers used non-verbal signals and commands.  Trigger knew what was expected and that people were watching him.  He responded to ‘ohs’ and ‘aws’ and the never-ending applause.  “Any cowboy worth his stuff owes half of what he gets to his horse,” said Rogers.

Rogers’ signature white hat with the famous ‘Denton Pinch’ (creased crown), along with his flashy cowboy fringed attire, wowed audiences as he waved and smiled to fame.  His handsome good looks allured all ages.  He wore smooth, round silver spurs that jingled when he walked.  Learning to ride bareback at the ripe age of eight years, Rogers quickly became a confident equestrian; he was a natural. He learned the intrinsics of the horse and how to use voice cues and leg pressure to command his horse. He never used whips or spurs.  His early years would mold and instill his inherent equestrian abilities. 

In the movie, “Under Western Stars”, Trigger stars with Rogers. The star-studded team goes on to make over 81 movies and star in over 100 episodes of The Roy Rogers Show.  Trigger learned tricks that wowed audiences the world over.  He had a repertoire of tricks; he could shoot a gun, knock on doors, dance, bow, untie ropes, kiss the girls and capture hearts, to name a few.  He was called ‘the smartest horse in the movies’. Through his career he had many look-alikes that were used as stunt-doubles in his movies.  As a star, he was kept in optimum health, inside and out. 

Rogers fell in love with Dale Evans, another hardy equestrian and horse-lover.  However, Evans had to learn to be an equestrian, and, upon Rogers’ recommendation, took riding lessons. They met on the movie set of “The Cowboy and the Senorita”. Evans played the lovely Senorita and Rogers the rugged cowboy.  In a scene in the movie, Rogers rescues Evans from the perils of her run-away-horse. Evans, from Uvalde, Texas, was a good match for the rider from backwoods Ohio. They melted the movie houses with their equine fanfare, tales of adventure and swooning tunes.  But, without Trigger and his good Palomino looks, they may not have been as successful.

In 1947 Rogers proposed to Evans while waiting to be introduced at a Chicago rodeo.  They were on horseback when he proposed.  She said ‘yes’, and they were married on December 31, 1947 at the Flying L Ranch in Davis, Oklahoma. Both Rogers and Evans had been married before. More children, horses, stardom and celebrity followed; the couple was married for more than 50 years.

‘King of the Cowboys’ was quickly bestowed upon Rogers and he gained a reputation for theatrical performances with Trigger, on and off the stage. With his new celebrity wife, Dale Evans, in her stunning feminine clothes, girly spunk, perpetual smile and friendly demeanor, Rogers became even more famous.  Evans was not only lovely and well-schooled, but she could ride a horse, round-up cattle, and drink cowboy coffee. Rogers and Evans were known for their feisty banter, congenial ways and gentle teasing. Evans was important to Rogers; she had star quality as an actress, a good relationship with Trigger and she supported his cowboy ventures. Together, they filled the movie houses and arenas.  Box offices around the globe were jammed-pack with movie goers waiting to see Rogers, Evans …and Trigger. 

Like most horseman, we are defined by our steeds.  Rogers is no exception.  It is better for some to have a life-long companion in a horse than an assortment.  “He would turn on a dime and he’d give you 9 cents change,” Roy was famous for saying.  Trigger was a superstar.  He was more than a cowboy’s horse; he was a confidant and pal. He was registered with the Palomino Horse Association. Palomino refers to a horses color, not breeding.  Trigger had a coat of deep gold with a flaxen mane and tail. Registered with the Palomino Horse Association, he was a stallion his entire life, but with no offspring.

Rogers, a die-hard patriot, traveled to many USO military bases during World War II and the Vietnam War.  He toured extensively with Trigger to visit our men and women in uniform.  During World War II, he raised thousands of dollars to raise funds for the war effort. The cowboy and his horse symbolized America; homeland and the right to be free.

Besides inspiring troops, dashing through movies, rearing on demand and wowing children, Trigger may have been instrumental in helping Evans to write 20 books, pen a catalog of songs, and guide the family through triumph and tragedy.  Trigger received an average of 200 letters a month from swooning fans.  Having his own fan club and marketing his image required an extra assistant. Fan mail was promptly responded to with a letter and an autographed hoof print.  

Trigger’s tack was royal.  He had a $5,000 gold and silver saddle, complete with martingale, golden lariat, and pointed tapadero stirrups. Most of Triggers saddles were made by the famous leatherworker Edward H. Bohlin, referred to as the Michelangelo of saddle making.  Decorated in intricate patterns of silver and gold, the saddles weighed as much as 150 pounds.  Trigger’s ruby-studded saddle was referred to as the ‘crown jewels’ of saddlery.  
Trigger made Rogers a fortune through personal appearances and merchandising. Before appearing in a show, Rogers would park Trigger’s horse trailer outside of the arena/venue where they were performing.  Rogers wanted the people who couldn’t afford to buy a ticket to the show to be able to see Trigger, dressed in all his finery.  Sometimes overzealous fans would snip a piece of Trigger’s lovely mane and tail as a souvenir.  After too many ‘snips’, Trigger was endanger of balding.  Showing Trigger prior to events was halted in order to save his beautiful flaxen mane and tail.  Eventually Trigger’s locks grew back to their original luxurious length. He was fed only the best hay and grain, mixed especially for his glamorous lifestyle; a diet that kept his coat shiny, his eyes bright and gave him the stamina he needed to perform on a moments notice.

Trigger died July 3, 1965, at the age of 30, a day shy of his 31st birthday.  He died at Rogers’ ranch in Hidden Valley, California.  Dying of old age, they found him in his familiar pasture. His thinning flaxen mane and tail had grayed and were without luster.  His luxurious coat had weathered and wrinkled.  He was fragile, as an old man, feeble and devoid of musculature. His body was sent to Bishott’s Taxidermy of California to be skinned and cast in plaster.  His internal organs – heart, brain, eyes – were disposed of and never buried.  No grave, no stone.  Jokes abounded about Trigger’s demise. “More hay, Trigger? No, thanks, I’m stuffed.”
Millions of people came to see the new, stuffed Trigger.  ‘The Smartest Horse in the World’ drew crowds from around the globe.  Trigger was displayed in the celebrities California home for awhile, then moved to the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum in Victorville, California.  Finally, Trigger was on display at the new relocated museum in Branson, Missouri. His gem-studded tack was also on display, as well as mementos from the family’s cowboy rein. 

Rogers died on July 6, 1998; Dale on February 7, 2001. Their legacy is not complete without the love, life and joy of Trigger.  The Branson museum that housed Trigger is gone now, it closed in 2009.  The contents were sold at public auction.  Trigger galloped off for over $266,000. One of his gilded bridles and saddles sold for over $386,000.  It is the end of an era, the end of the trail.  Trigger, the bright palomino horse that wowed audiences throughout the universe, will forever remain in the hearts and minds of those who remember his stunts, fanfare, beauty, anecdotes, movies, and more. 

Happy Trails gorgeous Trigger.…

Roy Rogers Riding Club Prayer by Roy Rogers
Lord, I reckon I'm not much just by myself,
I fail to do a lot of things I ought to do.
But Lord, when trails are steep and passes high,

Help me ride it straight the whole way through.

And when in the falling dusk I get that final call,
I do not care how many flowers they send,
Above all else, the happiest trail would be,
For You to say to me, "Let's ride, My Friend."


Happy Trails, The Lyrics by Dale Evans
Some trails are happy ones, others are blue.
It's the way you ride the trail that counts;
Here's a happy one for you.

Happy trails to you, until we meet again.
Happy trails to you, keep smilin' until then.
Who cares about the clouds when we're together?

Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather.

Happy trails to you, until we meet again.

Gina McKnight is a writer from USA.
1st Publication True Cowboy Magazine. December 2012.
2nd Publication February 2013
All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.


Chintan Parekh, Writer

From Mumbai, India, Chintan is an actor, philosopher, writer and director. 

Welcome Chintan!

Tell me about your writing and directing...

Well to start of, stories were always developing in my mind since childhood, but never realized it as a career option. I did not have any clear idea about how to go on with life. It was just that I was fascinated by movies in childhood, that I was acting & imitating actors. This was spotted by my uncle who suggested my parents to send me to an acting workshop. 

It was a few months after I completed my acting workshop, I was approached by a local theater producer for a good role as a child actor. This was how I stepped in the industry, with still no plans to enter the industry and doing it as just a mere hobby.

After few years I took a break for studies and never thought of returning to acting, because by the time I was 16 and was helping my dad in the creative field of designing.
One day, while I was watching cartoon on TV ( yes I loved Tom & Jerry & Popeye, then and even now) I heard my mother talking about one of her friend's son making cartoon films. This was when it struck in mind to do animation and choosing my career. I did animation course for 2 1/2 yrs but was then struggling a bit that I had made a wrong choice. 

As I always wanted to make a movie and many movies left me incomplete. I used to say to myself that I could have made a better movie than this on the same concept. When finally after getting into animation , I realized what I really wanted to do. So instead of doing further specialization in animation stream, I started attending filmmaking workshops, which I enjoyed to the fullest.

I have not attended any film school and also will not suggest anyone to go, instead attend the number of workshops, search the internet & practice on your own...Which is what matters the most. Its all about searching my style and making the film that I like, rather than some producer hiring me to write " what sells". I am still on the initial developing stage of my career. I have got the path which I was searching a whole while but still searching how to go about.

As far as genre is concerned, I would like write in social, comedy, mystery & adventure. It can also be a combination of any two, three or all. I believe A film makes a deep impact on a human mind if the story/concept is depicted in the right way. So I would like to write & direct a film which has a great sense of social values and leaves a big impact on minds. It will not only give another perspective to look at society but also it will give me a great opportunity to grow as, not just writer and director but also as a person. 

I have written, edited and directed two no budget videos. It was a great, challenging experience directing both the videos as I was working all alone with the help and support of 3-4 friends during the shoot. First video itself has taught me a lot that my 2nd no budget video was quite at ease, comparatively.
 Now I am looking to shoot a short film which I have already written and soon would expect some beautiful challenges to come across me and make me more powerful & confident about my work & my potential.

Where do you like to write?

Currently I write at my home on my laptop, but soon I'll be finding other ways of writing, like sitting on a beach or a naturalistic place. What I realized by sitting 3 months in home, writing came at a drastically slow paced as I am at home with the same routine. In fact when I travel, even just to grocery stores nearby, a thought strikes by observing and passively hearing random people. The whole world is an inspiration and I am trying my new ways. Hopefully I may figure out something for my thought process which will work at a pace I want.

How do you maintain thoughts and ideas?

Its a really good question and one of the most important questions for all the writers, I think. I first used to write it down just a tagline or a short concept which would strike at that moment itself. I have to leave everything I am doing otherwise I forget. Its then we can develop the thought afterwards with some good in-depth research work.

Now I use Evernote, which I coincidentally found while surfing. Its is a very good mobile application which can maintain our thoughts and concept as we make a note. Also we can attach some reference image, recording video to the note if we want to. It also synchronizes with my laptop automatically once I downloaded and created an account. So it’s a great app to maintain thought and ideas which come suddenly.

When did you know you wanted to become a writer?

But I never really intend to become a writer. I would love to Direct & Edit and writing is what I consider as a last option. But I am polishing my skills to become a writer as well because I want to make movies of the subject which I choose and which compel me to run for it and take challenges. Though I would love to do copy-writing for TVC's. It’s actually what I found out lately and have also written many concepts for any suitable product, I feel, it will relate to.

Do you have a favorite author?

I don't have a favorite author as reading was what I used to leave to last. This is since few months I have started taking writing seriously, I have been reading whatever article or a short story I like. Though a novel, for me, is a bit far. If you ask for a director I would say Christopher Nolan, Raj Kumar Hirani, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Aamir Khan, Ang lee, Rakesh Roshan, are my favorite directors as the film made by them is totally unique, it always has a freshness and most importantly they consider the story as the heart of the film, and that's what matters for any good film. I aspire to meet all of them & personally compliment them for every film they have made.

What are you currently writing?

I am currently writing a number of projects, which are all my own. I am planning a web based series, a short film on 'No Smoking', and 2 feature film concepts. Let’s see how I move about, as I have a lot to do and at the same time concentrate on every project giving equal importance and good amount of time as all of them involve a great amount of research work.

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