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A little horse brings a lot of comfort

Lisa Trujillo of Falcon happened upon her ìCinderella horseî three years ago; she found Diamonds N Guns when the mare was 2 years old. ìPepper,î as she is known at the barn, turned out to be a bigger blessing than Trujillo had bargained for.Trujillo has spent many years riding horses, and has a variety of equine disciplines under her belt. She joined the world of reining not too long before purchasing Pepper. Shortly after she brought Pepper home, Trujillo was diagnosed with breast cancer. ìI was diagnosed right before her first show ever,î Trujillo said. ìIt was in January of 2013. I had surgery a week before she went to the National Western Stock Show in Denver.îShe had four surgeries in one year, and Pepper helped her through all of them.ìI always had Pepper to go back to. I also got on her and rode around when I wasn’t supposed to; but, on a very bad day with the drains in, it wasn’t so bad with Pepper,î Trujillo said. ìThe four surgeries weren’t fun, all with general anesthesia; but, as soon as I felt like it, I went to the barn.îBecause of Trujillo’s diagnosis and subsequent treatment, she was unable to show Pepper at the beginning of her reining career. However, her trainer, Devin Warren, in support of Trujillo, showed the mare, and won back-to-back reining Paint Horse championships.Trujillo, who has been cancer free for about a year, is now showing Pepper. ìThere was a light at the end of the tunnel,î she said. ìI had something to come back to. I got to start riding her more regularly in December (2014) and then showing her in January.îTrujillo said many people passed on buying the mare before she purchased Pepper. She is a small horse, and has a hereditary condition, which makes her deaf; consequently, not many were interested in purchasing her. ìIt’s in Colonel’s Smoking Gun’s line,î Trujillo said. ìGunner,î as he is known, is Pepper’s sire. His foals with a bald face and blue eyes are more likely to be deaf. It’s a lack of stereocilia in their ears.î However, Trujillo said Warren knew the mare would be good at competition.Little Pepper does not seem bothered by her deafness. ìSome deaf horses are spooky, and some are not,î Trujillo said. ìI’m not sure if it’s because they’re deaf or if they would have been spooky anyway, but with Pepper it can be an advantage.î Trujillo said with the spring snows sliding off the roof of the indoor arena Pepper was one of the few horses unfazed by the noise.Pepper has carried Trujillo to a reserve championship at the Denver stock show, which was Trujillo’s first show with the mare. ìI’ve shown off and on for years, first hunter jumper then dressage, but Paint reining is new for me,î she said. ìI’ve shown her three times now.îReining brings a fun challenge. ìSliding stops (the horse goes fast and then sits deep and slides to a stop) are the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do,î Trujillo said. ìIt’s harder than anything I ever tried to do in dressage or anything else.îShe said there are similarities and differences compared to her other experience in styles of riding. ìWhat’s different for me, these horses are doing flying changes (the horse changes the leading leg mid-air at a canter, lope or gallop) at 2 (years) like itís nothing,î Trujillo said. ìThey seem to do it without much difficulty. These are little, athletic horses, so it’s easy for them.î Pepper is especially impressive, she said. ìWhatís amazing about this horse is that she can go mach one, and then sedately walk off if you want her to. She’s very respectful.îTrujillo keeps busy outside of riding. She works as a neonatal intensive care nurse in Colorado Springs, and drives to Franktown to ride. ìI’m lucky if I get in (riding) two days a week,î she said. Trujillo is also a mother to a young man, and the wife of a firefighter.Staying positive through cancer treatment is a daunting task, but Pepper and her passion for horses helped, Trujillo said.ìI’m very blessed to have such a passion,î she said. ìHorses can make me happy on the worst day.î

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