Quest: Michele Cook
From the ice rink to the dressage arena, Michele tells us how she made the switch and all about her pony named Peaches!
After being injured ice skating a few years ago and not being able to compete internationally any more, Michele decided to return to riding after an 8 year break, "I bought myself a little fluffy safe hacking out cob in October 2019. I am now 54, I am not very brave, having bought a warmblood many years ago who tried its best to kill me, I just wanted something super safe I could hack out. I bought her from a lady on the Wirral, she is an 11 years old, 13.2hh, Irish traditional, dun and white cob."
Fast forward to lockdown, March 2020 and they started to so some schooling, "I love the focus and goal of improving, I am predominantly a show rider, having competed in veteran showing for years. We took a break when I lost my show horse at 28 and went ice skating for 8 years. An injury, and the lockdown of ice rinks brought me back to riding."
A couple of months later the pair started to so some online dressage after her daughters encouragement, "Each month my daughter would check the results, and Peaches would get a fabulous score, the judges just loved her. I really didn't believe it, but it gave me the confidence to try BD Quest."
Having never done affiliated dressage before it was a new experience but they took it both in their stride, "It was extremely scary, but we dressed up and smiled, and a 68.48%....I was beyond blown away. The judges' comments were so lovely and encouraging, helping us to improve and build our confidence." They then went on to qualify for the North West Regional Championships, "I must have ridden that test a 100 times in preparation for the regionals. What a fantastic experience, the sun shone, she was super sparkly, freshly clipped out; she felt lovely and she did a super test. Our result was one of the last to come in, nail biting...there were some really high 60's scores, and there it was, 70.5% and she had won. A beautiful sash and rosette, I was beyond proud."
Michele caught the dressage bug and has enjoyed competing with peaches, whom the judges love, "We went under a list 4 BD judge at a Championship, where we scored 79.78%, 'a pleasure to judge, you have made my day' and our first 9! I was over the moon." They have both gained confidence after each competition, "Each and every show has been amazing and taught me so much. I have had to dig really deep at times, I really struggle in believing in myself, I have worried can we actually do this. This journey has really taught me resilience, confidence and belief - work hard and you can achieve your dream. My journey with Peaches really has been a dream."
There next steps are a correct canter, "She is croup high, was extremely uneven behind and she finds cantering and getting off her forehand in canter really difficult, so for us to progress we need to keep building our strength and get the canter." They plan to keep on entering Quest competitions but would love to try freestyle, "We have done this online a few times at intro level and scored mid 70's but would like to start at Prelim and try to qualify for the Area Festivals but until we have canter consistently I don't want to put too much pressure on her until she is ready."
Peaches is a complete princess and Michele thinks she is one of a kind, "She is such a beautiful person, kind and beautiful. I feel very honoured to be her mummy. She is a very kind, gentle pony. I feel very privileged to have her in my life."
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