A Horseman Rides Away
Peter Campbell's legacy to horses and riders is honored by horsemen and –women.
Story and photography by Jennifer Denison
April 20, 2017
Since becoming a fulltime clinician in 1995–and even before–Peter Campbell has helped improve the horsemanship of countless horsemen and –women. Several of Peter’s loyal followers, friends and family members gathered on April 15 at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, Alberta, Canada, to celebrate his life after his unexpected death on March 22 at age 53.
Peter started working with horses at age 12, when he went to work for Warner Guiding and Outfitting in Banff.
“Peter and I got a job selling parking-lot tickets at the Banff Springs Hotel when were about 9 years old,” recalls Peter’s twin brother, Bruce. “There was a corral nearby that belonged to an outfitter. When Peter saw the horses, he quit selling tickets and got a job with [Warner Guiding and Outfitting].”
He spent about three years there learning about packing, backcountry riding, guiding guest rides and driving teams of horses. Then, at age 16, he went to work for Parks Canada, riding into Banff National Park and clearing fallen timber on trails.
Two years later, he went to work for Ya-Ha-Tinda, a ranch owned by the Canadian government that supplied horses to the park service. He tended the ranch’s mares and foals and started colts. He considered this opportunity the start of his career as a professional horseman.
“To this date, I might be the youngest ever to be hired as a horseman at the Ya-Ha-Tinda,” he wrote in his book Willing Partners, published in 2012. “… I’d ridden lots of miles and plenty of horses for my age but, relatively speaking, I knew little.”
A turning point in Peter’s career was attending a Ray Hunt clinic in Alberta. Not only did he discover new ways of training and correcting horses, but he also learned about Ray’s mentor, legendary horseman Tom Dorrance. Intrigued by the way Ray and Tom communicated with horses and how they could do so little and gain so much from the horse, Peter went to California to visit Tom.
After cowboying on the Gang Ranch in British Columbia and the Wineglass Ranch in Alberta, (click page 2 to continue)