Amateur Dressage Rider Tina Cook Wins Big Riding to Rock Medley

Saturday, October 12, 2019
Posted by Yellow Horse Marketing for the GDCTA



With more than 350 horses entered in this year’s Great American Insurance Group/United States Dressage Federation (USDF) Region 3 Championships, hosted October 11-13, 2019 by the Georgia Dressage and Combined Training Association, the Georgia International Horse Park was buzzing with activity on Friday as action got underway across seven rings of competition.

One of the first members of the new class of 2019 champions was adult amateur Tina Cook of Denton, N.C., who drove almost six hours to Conyers for her first visit to the site of equestrian competition in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. And she wasted no time going straight into the winner’s circle with her U.S.-bred PRE stallion Carbonero XCVI in the Second Level Freestyle Championship with a score of 69.550% (watch their winning ride below, courtesy of Richard’s Equine Video).

A lifelong rider who previously competed across multiple disciplines, Cook jokingly admitted “the older I got the bigger the jumps looked, so started riding dressage.” With help from trainer Stacey Hastings, Cook took her first mount from a two-year-old to Grand Prix. Hastings then found Carbonero for her, and while some riders’ preference may not be to have a stallion, Cook loves everything about her current partner. “My first mare was quite difficult,” she remembered. “For 12 years we kind of butted heads, so Carbonero is easy compared to her! And all the geldings I’ve had have been a little boring, so I like his stallion attitude!”

But that feistiness almost backfired on Cook in the warmup where Carbonero displayed some impressive athletic moves as the pair prepared for their championship ride. “He was great yesterday so I don’t know where that came from today, but he was a firecracker,” she laughed. “He doesn’t like having a lot of other horses around him, so I knew I just had to stick with it and let him get it out of his system.”

Despite the theatrics in warmup, once in the ring the pair was all business for their challenging routine featuring rock music from Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses and AC/DC. “I like music that’s fun – just like my horses, I don’t like anything boring or ordinary,” Cook chuckled. “For this freestyle, I made it a little hard on myself with the choreography going from counter canter to simple change which is still difficult for him, but we got through it and I was able to highlight how supple he is in the lateral work. He’s just starting to figure out how to sit, and he tries so hard to please – he tries harder than any other horse I know.”

With the first victory of the weekend under their belt, Cook will wait and see how the pair’s remaining First and Second Level classes turn out, but she does hope to return to the US Dressage Finals in Kentucky next month where the pair earned a top ten finish in last year’s First Level Freestyle. “It was pretty cold, but I’m willing to give it another chance,” she grinned.