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December 15, 2009

Memories Of Cooper

Photo by Kat Netzler.

Someone once said to me, "One day I can’t wait to leg you up on a horse that will make everyone else nervous."

At the time I didn’t think much about not having a horse like that. Probably because I always had some sort of weird confidence that someday I would.

I remember eventing for quite a while before I ever won a horse trial...even a novice event. I started riding for other people when I was 16. I started eventing when I was 12, and I want to say that I didn't win even an intro until I was 17.

Never thought much of it to be honest...I love eventing, and I rode anything I could get my hands on in California and continue to here. I had this horse named Reality Check when I moved to California, and he was only 4, but he was a really, really nice horse. He ended up going intermediate as a 6-year-old, but he had issues with colic that he ended up passing away from.

I never got the chance to say goodbye to him. At least I had that chance with Cooper. I think Cooper had a little bit of Henry in him...both had this sweetness in their eye.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I think about them a lot. I know this sport is hard, and I know you need to be tough, but it’s really hard to sleep right now knowing what tomorrow (or I guess today) will be like. Cooper was such a champion, and he won a whole lot.

I remember the first time he was second at a big event. Phillip won the CIC** on Baileywick at Red Hills, and Cooper was second. I remember thinking Cooper knew he didn’t lead the victory gallop. That horse gave me so many amazing, so many...more than I could ever deserve.

He’s led me to meet, train and compete against the most amazing people. Cooper had a few "owners" that he acquired through his eventing career. The first was Wayne Quarles, who judged Cooper’s first novice. He got a 22 and won that event. I remember Wayne telling me, “You take care of my horse. This one is special. This one will take you places.”

Wayne has been a part of Cooper’s career ever since. He always tells me to take care of his horse. (I kept telling him if he owned him, he could help pay for him too!)

Then I moved to the East Coast and met Mike Huber at Champagne Run where Cooper was going preliminary. He tried to buy Cooper off of me. Obviously, I didn't sell him, but ever since he called Cooper his horse as well. 

Mike Huber came up to me after NAYRC when I won and told me to take good care of his horse and not go running around winning every intermediate in America. He told me Cooper was going to win big kid medals one day, and I should take care of him. Cooper only ran for time at two events after that day. 

Karen O'Connor tried to convince me this year that I was too big for Cooper (as a joke of course), and every time I saw her, she would remind me that I was still looking a bit too big for him, and maybe she should take over the ride. 

I could ramble on and on about all the amazing people Cooper has brought into my life...he was so special, and it kills me that he never got to be all that he could have been or at least had some sort of happier ending than this. 

I will keep remembering him—every time I climbed on his back and thought he’s that horse.


Brannigan Eventing...

If you have a favorite photo that you've taken of Cooper, and you'd like to include it in the photo gallery, email the photo to It has to be a photo you've taken, not one you've bought from a professional. Include your name, where the photo was taken, and why Cooper was special to you.

Ari Rox
5 years 47 weeks ago
Dear Jennie, you must be feelling so sad, and still sort of wishing there could have been anther way. Back in 1985 I was in a situation, where still today I wish I had done something else, it... Read More


Ari Rox
5 years 47 weeks ago


Dear Jennie, you must be feelling so sad, and still sort of wishing there could have been anther way. Back in 1985 I was in a situation, where still today I wish I had done something else, it involved a pony and weather I should keep him or sell him on. He was old (about 25) and he's had laminitis most of his life.

From the time he was about 7 years old every spring when the grass grew I had to keep him on as little grass as possible, it seemed to help, making him eat really rough old grass and odd bits of food other than grass. My blacksmith at the time wasn't very good so his feet were all the wrong shape.

To cut a long story short I sold him so a butcher who I really though would have him put down, I was too stupid to do it myself, that butcher sold him on and once I heard I tried and tried to find him but never did :-(

I do know he went to a pony trecking centre on Dartmoor in the UK (where I live) but there are so many centres like that here and the one he was at was impossible to find :-(

What I'm wondering now is why you had Cooper put down, was there no way he could have lived anther life away from Eventing ? Or was he unsavable ? In too much pain ?

Please don't think that I'm suggesting you made the wrong  decision, I know very little about horses really or laminitis. I'm just trying to understand what happened and why. I can see that you love horses, the love of horses flows threw you blood, some of us are like that, we're born like that.... it's almost like we are pre-progammed to love them.

After nearly 30 years away from horses, well ponies really, a little pony has wandered back into my life. He's not mine,  but he's sort of like having a pony again as I get to be with him sometimes. We are getting to know each other, getting to understand each other, and like my old pony, he is teaching me so much.

Your postings about Cooper made me remember things about my past which I thought I had forgotten, thanks for sharing and I hope you'll be able to come to remember Cooper, the best of him, soon and move on with your life.  I'm wishing you the best of luck for 2010 and may your dreams come true.

Greeings from over the waves in the UK from Ari xx