Introducing Ben Thomas Cook
Ben lives in the hamlet of Brinsop and is a 23 year old, freelance horse trainer. His passion is show jumping and show jumpers but he loves all horses and ponies and we are very lucky to have him keeping an eye on Wattle and Daub, our native ponies.
Ben has been around horses all his life and since a young child has not only ridden horses but has learnt to exercise and train them too. His family used to deal in ponies and for him it was a “brilliant training ground and step up to making training a career”, he told me.
Ben and his family have lived at Brinsop since 2004, but he was born and bred in the county and told me “there is no place like Herefordshire”. He has worked all over the UK and Ireland, but thinks Herefordshire has the best scenery and the best people and he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Of course there are frustrations with the time it takes to travel out of the county to competitions; but being able to ride across the Herefordshire landscape more than compensates.
A typical day for Ben is either a “work” day or a “show” day. On a work day he exercises not only his own horses, but also horses for clients following a set programme for each individual animal. Every night he reviews the plan for the next day, writing it up on his white board and texting his clients to ensure that the plan is still intact. It can be a logistical nightmare and there is often a change of plan as horses sometimes go lame and can’t be exercised or the weather is particularly nasty or people’s priorities change.
A show day is equally as hectic with a 7.00am start to get the horses fed and ready to go and Ben aims to be on the road by 7.30. Luckily for those horses that are slow eaters, they can continue their breakfast whilst Ben drives. By 9.00 he could be competing and more often than not he is in classes that are both early and late in the day! He is usually back at the yard by 5.00ish and then needs to see to all the horses – those that have just got home and those that were left at home and need exercise.
Ben’s show jumping heroes are Nick Skelton who has won numerous medals and titles and was a gold medalist in the 2012 London Olympics, and Marcus Ehning. Marcus is currently ranked #2 in the world and Ben admires his very unique style as a show jumper.
One of Ben’s own claims to fame is that he has been in a hit film. War Horse was filmed in the UK and Ben was recruited to help exercise the horses used in the film which developed into riding them as well as an extra. For six weeks he enjoyed being part of the film industry with its 5.00am starts and hair and make-up sessions! Ben commented that the whole experience was “incredibly intense, but fun and the attention to detail was unbelievable”. Ben’s own personal favourite film is Forest Gump and since the filming of War Horse back in August 2010 he has viewed films through more knowing eyes!
When asked what he thought his Mum and Dad would say about him, Ben thought they would say how proud they are of him. That he is very driven and ambitious but also practical and that if he could work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, then he would do! Ben’s biggest wish for 2014 is to have a winner at national level which he thinks is doable. With no formal apprenticeships in the industry and no government funding, achieving what Ben wants to achieve will be no mean feat, but we sincerely hope he does and wish him all the best for his career. Here at Brinsop Court Estate we will be watching his progression with interest.