More than 12 weeks and counting! In March Brooke Cole and Poetic Justis jumped to the top of the WIHS Adult Hunter standings and they’ve have been there ever since. Though it’s a relatively young partnership – Brooke purchased “PJ” in August 2013 – they clicked immediately. “He’s about as perfect as they come and a joy to ride,” said Brooke of the handsome chestnut Hanoverian gelding by Parabol.
Though PJ started out in dressage, he’s reaching his potential in the hunter ring, where his beautiful expression, style over fences and a lovely way of going are paying off.
In the Adult Amateur Hunter 18-35, the pair has been on fire with recent championships at Upperville, Loudon and Lexington.
“He’s so professional, and really quiet and easy. I’m so lucky to have him,” said Brooke. “I try to improve each trip at every show. I know you can never be perfect, but I try every time I ride because PJ expects nothing less. He has quite an ego, and I love him to death.”
Last season PJ finished as the USHJA Zone 3 adult hunter champion (36-49) thanks to a group effort by Melissa Zimmerman, Lara McPherson and Kate Elliot throughout the year. He was also able to clinch the Zone 3 Finals championship in October with Lara McPherson aboard.
Brooke, 24, has been riding since she was six, and showing at the rated shows since age 13. Her love of horses comes from her mother, Jennifer D. Cole, who has ridden and showed most of her life, as well as her father, Peter Cole, who rode racehorses and worked at racehorse farms when he was younger.
While a student at Bridgewater College in Bridgewater, VA, Brooke rode on the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) team, showing in intermediate on the flat and intermediate over fences.“I had a wonderful time being a member of the team at Bridgewater,” said Brooke. “It was a type of showing very different from anything I’d ever done before, and I appreciate Bridgewater College equestrian coaches Jerry Schurink, Beth Boteler and Emily Guyer for giving me the chance to be a part of such a great experience.”
Since finishing college, Brooke is working at her family farm in Rockville, Virginia, where she, her mother, and father manage four horses, sharing responsibility for the care, chores, feeding, riding and shipping.
“I take a lot of pride in caring for my own horses and creating a bond that goes beyond horse and rider,” said Brooke. “I think that they notice and appreciate that I take care of them, and since I work hard for them, they try to work hard for me.”
Down the road she would like to be involved in the horse industry professionally.
Brooke shows mostly on the Virginia Horse Show Association circuit at Lexington, Raleigh, the Barracks, Culpeper, Keswick and Upperville, where she meets up at the shows with her trainer, Winn Alden, who bases her business, Winn Alden Equestrian, at EMO Stables in Warrenton, VA. Brooke also works with Virginia trainers Jeff Bradner of Richmond; Chris Wynne of Virginia Beach; and Jason Berry of Verona, when Winn is not able to make it to the show due to judging or traveling to a different show for other clients.
“I do my best to keep everyone up to date with what I’m doing so there’s no confusion,” said Brooke about working with multiple trainers.
Among Brooke’s previous successes is the USHJA Zone 3 adult amateur hunter championship (18-35) aboard her mother’s About Time.
Brooke is looking forward to qualifying for Washington this year with PJ.
“Verizon Center is a one-of-a-kind place to show. It’s so exciting,” said Brooke. “The horses and riders are exceptionally prepared and turned out. And there’s nothing like walking down the street in Washington with your horse and right beside you is a businessman on his way to work!”
It will be Brooke’s third trip to Verizon Center. In 2012 she finished 10th with her black Westphalian, Markelo, in the WIHS Adult Hunter Championship, and in 2006, she qualified for the Regional Finals with her pony, Coming Up Roses. (This year Markelo is leased to Alex Johnson and is showing successfully in the older adult hunter division. Alex plans to qualify and attend Washington this year as well.)
Brooke and Poetic Justis are also leading in the Adult Amateur Hunter (18-35) standings for the Maryland Horse Shows Association, the Virginia Horse Show Association, and the North Carolina Horse Show Association.