Monday, 09 August 2010
Sweet Memories of Mabel Cook, Malibu's Horseback Riding Instructor
By Maureen Moore
I was so tickled to read the post by Ann Berger which was, in part, about taking riding lessons with Mabel Cook in Malibu, California. Mrs. Cook was like a second mother to me. I met her when I was three years-old when she became my riding teacher and baby sitter. She was born on January 2, 1900, and I hoped she would live forever.
I spent many happy days, weekends and summers at her house riding horses, competing in horse shows and learning so much about life from her. She was quite the character and she taught me much about life. My parents' marriage was very troubled and they eventually divorced. Going to Mrs. Cooks house was like a beam of light for me.
Because I spent so much time with her, I learned to ride quite well at a very young age. She had a number of students who had fiesty, difficult horses and kept them at their homes. Mrs. Cook loved to take me along with her to their lessons.
After the students had fought a valiant war with their horse, she would come and get me out of the car and throw me up on these horses and have me ride them. I was lucky I didn't kill myself. But under her magnificent tutelage, anything was possible.
I'd actually get on and put those horse through their paces. She had taught me how to deal with most anything they would throw at me. People were shocked. It was all due to her, believe me.
What was really impressive was to see her jump on some rearing, skittish horse at her advanced age. She rode it without a lick of trouble.
However, when she was way up in her 80s, I remember trail riding with her when something scared the horse she was on. It reared and she fell off. I ran over to her. I was about to have a coronary when she stood up, dusted herself off and said her little finger hurt.
That's all - just her little finger. Then, as she had always counseled me to do, she got right back up on that horse and rode on.
She loved to talk about horses. In fact, that was ALL she wanted to talk about. If we went to a dinner party and the conversation wained from horses, she got very quiet until it returned to horses. Every year the Rose Parade came on, she watched intently just to see the horses. They were her constant companions and she took exquisite care of them.
She is gone now. She was with us until she was 92, I believe. She was one of the great characters and great women of all time. Thank you for being my friend, Mrs. Cook.
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