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Pets and Animals

Ron Cook knows horses and equine gear well

“Equestrian is a broad term used to refer to sporting disciplines performed on horseback.”
 |  Stan Stewart  | 
86 years and still going strong. Ron grew up on a farm and horses were always there. His father trucked horses and was a horse dealer and blacksmith.

Milking three cows before he rode to school on a pony was for Ron his normal life. It was only natural that Ron would slip into a life with horses and saddles and riding gear. He grew to love them and still does.

Horse related chores, saddles and shoeing still occupies him from daylight to dusk. It’s his life and he loves it.

His home in Whitianga is also part museum – walls  lined with photos and memorabilia of a life in showing horses and jumping. It is also a workshop where riding gear can be repaired.

Equipment for shoeing horses which is still one of Ron’s specialities is neatly displayed. Ron’s wife Estelle, who shared his love for horses died four years ago. His informally adopted two boys are now far away, but they keep in touch and share his passion for horses and competitions.

His daughter Shelly who lives in Whitianga visits every afternoon for a chat and a beer.

Ron left school when he was fourteen. His aim was to be a vet. His family could not afford the tuition fees but nonetheless, Ron was able to spend a lot of time with vets.

His interest was in more than strains and breaks. He wanted to understand the medical side, what made horses sick and how their sicknesses could be combatted. His young life was always around horses. He was a competitor in anything that was going – buck jumping, show jumping, dressage, anything to do with horses. Young Ron was always rearing to get in the saddle.

In later years, equestrian and dressage has become his passion. If you are a novice like me, the world of equestrians and dressage needs some explanation. Here is a description I found on the web.

“Equestrian is a broad term used to refer to sporting disciplines performed on horseback. Dressage is one such event and is one among three equestrian events in the Olympic roster, alongside eventing and show jumping. Dressage is described as the highest expression of horse training” where “horse and rider are expected to perform from memory a series of predetermined movements.”

Over the years, Equestrian has become Ron’s passion and his training ability in this field is of the highest level. In his early years, he represented New Zealand on many overseas competitions.

Back then, there was no New Zealand funding for such events. Competitors had to pay their own way.

Locally, his large Nissan diesel truck was and is a regular at district shows. The truck is not only equipped for trucking horses; there is a kitchen and sleeping accommodation built in. For years Ron competed and won many trophies. He also still holds the record for the highest jump ever recorded. In the 1954 Auckland A&P Show his horse cleared 6ft, 3.5 inches.

Ron now lives in Whitianga and clearly, he is an asset to our town and district. His work over the years has been of much benefit to his old stomping ground, Matatoki.

There is to be more of his story in subsequent editions of The Informer.