A typical morning begins with a hearty breakfast of oats and sweet grain, followed by a stroll around the grounds, some light grooming and relaxing in the shade.
Trigger spends his days in the pastoral outskirts of Crosby, accompanied by a dog, a handful of noisy roosters and hens, a cranky barn cat and a family of doting humans. These days, Trigger is living the dream — a horse’s dream.
But Trigger’s life wasn’t always so idyllic. Before Elisa Salazar adopted the 16-year-old quarter horse last year, Trigger was found dehydrated and severely emaciated, abandoned in an empty lot on Houston’s north side.
Salazar, a BARC animal enforcement officer, investigates reports of rabies, animal bites, neglect and cruelty every day, but she couldn’t erase the heartbreaking image of Trigger’s fragile physical condition – his ribs and pelvic bones jutting out of paper-thin skin, saddle sores, his matted blonde mane and chestnut coat.
After BARC confiscated the horse in the fall of 2016, Salazar would visit Trigger while he recuperated. The pair soon became inseparable.
“We don’t see many horses at BARC, so I was really excited to go and feed Trigger as often as I could,” Salazar said. “Honestly, he was so skinny at first, it was hard to look at him, but I saw how beautiful he could be with a little love and care. I knew he had to come home with me.”
It was meant to be. Salazar and her family moved out of the city a few years ago to a couple acres in Crosby. They even had stables waiting for Trigger.
BARC employees frequently foster and adopt dogs and cats in need, Salazar said, but it’s not every day that an employee adopts a horse.
“We thank Elisa for her commitment to BARC and the citizens of Houston,” said Jarrad Mears, BARC Animal Enforcement division manager. “She is to be commended. It was no easy task to have accomplished what she did.”
Megan Cardet, founder of the Tomball-based equine rescue organization A Place for Peanut, said horse abandonment is all too common, and there is a growing need for responsible horse owners.
“Owning a horse is a huge commitment, so anyone willing to rescue an abused horse is truly going above and beyond,” Cardet said. “That horse depends on you, and it requires a lot of time and financial investment to keep horses fed and healthy.”
Trigger is Salazar’s only horse at this time, but she rents her stables out to other horse owners to pay for Trigger’s food and care. Salazar said she is open to adopting additional horses in the future.
“I’ve been around horses most of my life,” she said. “My family raised racing horses in Mexico, and we had some horses a while back. We were just considering getting another horse when Trigger came into our lives.”
Nearly a year later, Trigger is happy and healthy, Salazar said. He put on weight, his wounds have healed, his mane shines and tail swishes.
“He’s a part of the family now,” Salazar said. “We ride him a little on the weekends, and he gets really excited about it. Trigger is very gentle, he’s real smart, he listens, understands, responds to his name. I used to play music on my phone when I would feed him, and he really likes music.”
For those considering horse ownership, Cardet recommends taking a test drive by sponsoring a rescue horse before making the investment.
“Sponsoring a horse allows you to visit and feed the horse as often as you want to, so you can see the level of care they require,” she said.