Horseman Peter Campbell Dies

The horsemanship world gave a collective gasp last week as it lost one of its own. Peter Campbell, an accomplished horseman from Alberta, Canada, who sought out Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance and honed his expertise at several large ranch operations before eventually settling in Wheatland, Wyoming, died suddenly last week. He was 52 and had been traveling from a recent clinic in Kentucky.

Campbell died of a self-inflicted injury along the highway near Vonore, Tennessee, confirmed Vonore Police Chief Randy Kirkland. He leaves behind his wife, horsewoman Trina Campbell.

Thousands of friends and fans remembered him as one who helped riders and horses make enormous strides where others had failed. He was generously and uniformly praised for his excellence and for his advocacy of the vaquero method of training.

Campbell traveled internationally as a clinician, has been featured in numerous horsemanship magazines, competed at the Buck Brannaman Pro Am Roping event, authored the book “Willing Partners,” and had an instructional DVD series. There will be a memorial service for Campbell at the Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, Alberta, on April 15, 2-5 pm in the Van Horn ballroom.

Campbell follower Elizabeth David, of Cheboygan, Michigan, wrote this remembrance:

“Not for me, for him, for the horse.”

Peter could always make a profound change in a horse, but he also made profound changes in people. Using the same feel that made him an artist on horseback, he would set up an idea and let people seek it, find it.

Never did he discourage a try, taking his time where he could, adding some pressure only where it was needed. He taught people to seek, to learn, to feel. To come together and help each other to get the job done. Peter Campbell was a creator of true horsemen and horsewomen. That was his gift to us, to the horse.

Photo by Kent Reeves

Posted in Horsemen & Women and tagged .

22 Comments

  1. My heart is broken as I truly valued Peter and all his skills and knowledge. He always had the best interest of the horse and safety of the rider at heart. There was never a time that Peter asked me to ‘try” in a clinic that I doubted what he “saw” and what he ‘knew” was needed.

    I truly loved and appreciated Peter and Im so sorry for the loss to us humans as well as the loss to the horses who will no longer have an opportunity to know or experience his “feel. What an amazing gift!: God Bless You Peter.

  2. My heart goes out to his wife, Trina and their families.
    Peter had accomplished so much, since last saw him over 20 years ago, when I lived Banff. I am filled with such pride watching his videos and learning about his talents. There are so very many people and horses, who will now never be so blessed, to be touched, or know of his beautiful gift.
    May he rest in peace, God be with you.

  3. Watching Peter with a horse was like watching poetry in motion. Peter had an understanding of the horse that was unparalleled. He also had the same understanding of his students. He always knew what his students needed and helped us achieve our goals. Those of us that rode with Peter not only lost our mentor, but our heartfelt friend. What he brought to the horse community will be sorely missed. God Bless you Peter Campbell.

  4. Very sorry this talented man chose to take his own life. I wish he had sought help for these troubled thoughts. Truly a loss to the horse world

  5. It is a very sad time for many of us that knew Peter and spent time with him. I can honestly say the only way Peter would end his life is if it was coming to a close due to sickness or disease and he wouldn’t want to be a burden.
    I do not profess to know all the details but I do know Peter and Trina.
    Peter was a man that loved people and horses. A genuine man. A true friend and that is how we will remember him.
    Praying for his wife and family at this time of loss.

  6. I read your post in its original form in March. At that time it did not detail the circumstances surrounding Peter’s passing. I find it in very poor taste that you felt compelled to disclose this information. It should not matter the circumstances which Peter left this world, but more so the profound loss felt by his family. Peter was someone’s husband, brother, son, uncle, nephew and friend. It saddens me that one would feel the need to dig for that information, and back it with confirmation from law enforcement to write a blog.

    • Thank you for your comment, Kathryn.
      Peter Campbell is a celebrity and in the public eye and suicide is a national epidemic.

      If the media chose NOT to report that a soldier with PTSD committed suicide, how is that helpful or informative? It seems to me, a journalist is doing the reading public is HUGE disservice if it is NOT reported.

      If the media chose NOT to report that football players who have suffered with CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) are also killing themselves, how is that helpful?

      Because of sharing this information, we can hope for conversation, healing, addressing serious problems, and hopefully, just maybe, saving others so that they will not suffer the same fate.

      • If you wish to report something, you should do so with the family’s support and knowledge. If the family doesn’t want it public knowledge, as a journalist, you should respect their privacy. Just because he was in the public eye, it does not make his private life public.

        • So, just to make the point that you are more caring and sensitive than the rest of us, you go on and on and make a really big deal of what happened. I did not know Peter Campbell but it seems to me that he was devoted to the truth, wherever it took him.

  7. Thank you for posting this. We don’t talk about the devastation that suicide causes. Let’s hope this spurs a healthy dialogue.

  8. Suicide is a symptom of a disease that was untreated. It leaves behind untold broken hearts, tears, questions, and pain. As Peter was a teacher, I think it would be appropriate if, over time, there can be more open discussions about suicides in the hope that one horribly sad tragedy may help save another’s life. A good can rise out of this cumulative grief if we can set aside, over time, society’s continued desire to sweep aside truth. Let’s learn from this.

  9. I have been to numerous Peter Campbell clinics. The choice to end his life seems to be totally out of his character. This definitely opens my eyes to others around me and hidden struggles. Thank you for the complete reporting

  10. I had the pleasure of meeting Peter about 3 or 4 years ago, at Legacy of Legends. He was remarkably open, friendly, and willing to give of his time insight, knowledge, and expertise to someone he didn’t know (me), who just walked up and introduced themselves. We had a pleasant time chatting and watching the roping Calcutta. So sad to hear of this. What a shock. How to end the tragedy of suicide? How to spread the word that it is OK to reach out and share, and ask for help? How to facilitate a productive conversation? Praying that some positive changes can come.

  11. This is very tragic. A late comment I just read this. I didn’t know him or his work but knew of similar folks and the disease is very hard to understand when there is so much treatment available. I have experience with this disease in another person close to my heart with similar career and experience, he was drawn to horses all his life and suffers from PTSD where suicide is a huge part of it. it’s a hard road to handle being the stable one. I feel for his wife and family. This is very upsetting to me knowing more about this and the man in my life who is very much a cowboy and known as the Mustang man suffering greatly and unfortunately still very unstable today and at times he can want to pull the plug just out of nowhere.

  12. I found him to be a miserable person who always sought out one person and was mean to them the entire clinic. I’ve seen him put people to tears and hearing this does not surprise me. Rest In Peace and hope you find happiness on the other side.

    • Your comments are spot on with respect to character and the apple/tree. Peter’s twin brother Bruce teaches towing operators and does exactly the same thing. Picks one person in a class, singles them out and bullies and berates them to the point of humiliation. Bruce is even proud of it and boasts about it in a video on his FB page.

  13. It has been over a year now and I still think about my buddy Peter alot. I knew Peter in a very different way than most of you folks, I bought my Prevost bus from he and Trina in March of 2014. As far as horses, I would not know which end to hop on and he could care less about that, we became good friends prior to buying the bus and would talk for hours about buses. When my wife and I flew out to Wyoming to buy the bus, Peter and Trina picked us up in Denver and drove us to their ranch in Wheatland WY where they rolled out the Red Carpet. It was like we had known these folks for years and felt right at home. After buying the bus Peter would call me monthly to see how we were doing and most importantly making sure nothing was wrong with the bus….I would say, Peter, everything is fine can we just talk now! haha….Long story shortened, I would look up his clinic schedule and usually knew where he was and if maybe our paths would cross on the highway. The week of his passing he had slipped down to his favorite bus shop in TN to have a few things done and he would also help out with other buses. I left out of NC heading to see customer in TN, AL, and KY and had stopped in Knoxville Tn to see a customer in the morning, and then onto AL. Little did I know this week, that Peter was only 30 miles from me at the bus shop. I took off for AL and 36 hours later got the terrible news about my bus buddy Peter Campbell as I was sitting on my/his bus…. I can promise you, he was there that night. I have read quite a few articles about he and Trina knowledge of horsemanship, and must say, very very impressive folks. This may never be seen by many people, but having a Peter morning and had to release. God bless to all and keep riding and practicing everything Peter taught you. RIP Peter…. I miss you.

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