Home Is Where the Horse Is

A lifelong love of equines runs in this Alberta family.

I live just west of a little farming and oil-field town called Caroline, Alberta. I was born in Calgary but my parents moved our family to the half-section farm my grandparents owned just northeast of Caroline when I was only three years old. Growing up, I remember following my grandma around the farm, feeding the animals. My favourite was Trigger, an old white horse they had when my dad was a young boy. I remember feeding him his grain sometimes.

I started riding my auntie’s horse, Stoney, when I was ten years old. She kept him on the farm because she lived in the city. I didn’t own my own horse until I turned 16. One of the neighbours had a three-year-old filly they wanted trained, so she became my first project. They offered to sell her to me when, naturally, I fell in love with her. I bought her for $200. I’ve owned at least one horse ever since then; I own three at the moment.

My parents had friends who knew some people who owned race horses, so when I turned 19, I was introduced to them and went to work as a groom for a thoroughbred trainer at Stampede Park in Calgary. It was here I met my future husband, Larry. We worked for different trainers at first, but eventually ended up working for the same one—Don Gilkyson.

Larry and I started our family in 1994 and moved back to Caroline in 1996, where we raised our three daughters around the people and community I love.

This is where my horse Marshall (above, centre) comes in. He was a Mother’s Day gift to me two years ago. He is a three-year-old quarter horse and a class clown. I began training him this past summer, and he’s doing very well.

Marshall has two stablemates, which are both quarter horses as well. I’ve owned Piper (above, left) for 12 years. She is the one I taught my daughters how to ride on. Deejay (above, right) actually belongs to our youngest daughter, Lindsay. Deejay has been part of the family for four years now. I love them all dearly.

Next, check out the majestic wild horses of Alberta.

Originally Published in Our Canada