Skip to main content

Pets and Animals

Ron Cook and his life with horses around the world

Ron Cook’s life has been horses, and his involvement has not slowed down since moving to Whitianga nine years ago.
 |  Stan Stewart  | 
Ron Cook – 86 years Part Two

His Dad was a horse dealer and trainer and as far back as he can remember, Ron’s life and love has been horses. He started in the show ring when he was a nipper of five years. With great pleasure and pride, he would lead ponies around the show ring. It was in these events that he won his first blue ribbons.

His Dad used to participate in three-day horse sales. These sales became the occasion for rodeo and calf roping.

When he was sixteen, Ron was enthusiastically into rodeo and calf roping at the three-day sales and regional shows. The horses were usually provided by his Dad.

He survived his rodeo unscathed, but his shoulder blade was broken when he was hit by a bucking horse he was shepherding. There was local glory and small cash prizes for winning these gruelling events.

Gradually his interest focussed on equestrian competitions and eventually this became his great love.

He says he has never made much in the way of money from his commitment to training others for participating in Equestrian.

“But, for me it has been a lifetime interest and a lifetime pleasure,” says Ron.

In fact, back then equestrian events had very little financial support. When it came to Kiwis wanting to compete in Australian events, there was no financial support at all.

Kiwis like Ron did participate in Australian horse events, but they had to pay their own way. When they did win in Australia, there were ribbons and prize money, but the cash amounts were small.

Reflecting on these Australian competitions, Ron said the experience of competing overseas was a greater motivation than winning prize money.

The way Ron cared for and related to horses was well known. Because of this, he was asked to accompany and care for very valuable horses on overseas trips.

These trips included flights and sea voyages to the United States and Japan. Keeping the horses calm is one of Ron’s special talents. When there was turbulence in the air or on the seas, Ron was beside his horses talking to them softly.

Talking quietly with horses is something Ron advocates. Whether it be to highly strung horses he is about to shoe, or a frightened horse on a pitching ship, Ron uses his voice and sometimes a gentle hand over the horse’s eyes to help the animal to calm down. It’s easy to see that horses are not just Ron’s work, they are his love.

His other reason for working with horses is that he believes that working with horses and caring for horses is very good for children and young people.

“It is a demanding hobby/sport, and the young person must focus. To succeed they must concentrate on their horse and on themselves. This is a wonderful preparation for life.”

As with most adults, Ron is saddened by news reports of young people going off the rails.

“It’s because they don’t have any centre in their lives – nothing challenging to do in their spare time. The relationship between a horse and young person can be a beautiful thing,” says Ron.

“It gives the young person a focus and purpose. This can lay a foundation for life.”