Dana Cooke has been the pride of Canada, furthermore Nicola Valley, for the past decade.
The 34-year-old Canadian eventing athlete has spent a decade racking up awards and making a name for herself in the North American Scene.

Recently, she competed in the Red Hills International Horse Trials in Tallahassee, Florida, posting top finishes as high as third in her CCI3*-S division riding FE Quattro and going against 36 other competitors.
Cooke now looks forward to competing in the Millstreet International Event in Ireland from June 2 to 4.

“I’m trying to step outside the the box a little bit and get more international experience,” said Cooke. “It’s going to make me a bit more competitive.”

Cooke got involved with riding early on having the back lot of her house in Lower Nicola as the training grounds for the Nicola Valley Pony Club.
“We’ve kind of had horses pretty much my whole life,” Cooke explained. “I remember going to my brother’s Pony Club lessons, and watching them since I was a little girl.”

Cooke would eventually become a long time member herself finishing as an ‘A’ graduate. As she progressed, she also joined the BC young riders program and further developed her skills in riding.
One of the most defining moments in Cooke’s life was when she was given the opportunity to work for Rebecca Howard in 2008.

“I went home, contacted Rebecca, and six months later I packed all of my belongings into the back of my pickup truck and I drove across the country,” Cooke recalled. “The toughest part about it was ‘you’re a long way from home.”

Howard is a fellow Canadian from Salmon Arm who was already a professional representing Canada and was based out of the US where Cooke relocated to at the age of 23.

“The best at our sport, from North America, are in the east coast of the U.S,” said Cooke.

Cooke moved to Mooresville, North Carolina where she would be Howard’s head groom, assistant trainer and rider for years.
She would eventually take Howard’s spot as head trainer at The Fork as Howard elected to stay in London after the 2012 Olympics.

“Working for Rebecca exposed me to what it’s like to be a part of a national team,” said Cooke. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t spent those years working for her.”

In 2019 Cooke became a member of the Canadian Eventing Team for the Pan American Games held in Lima, Peru. Canada would win bronze and Cooke with her horse FE Mississippi would gain international level experience.
Cooke and ‘Misi’ look to continue their momentum by taking a trip to Europe with her coach Clayton Fredericks her groom Tarra Gakstatter.

The horse and rider tandem would compete in Ireland looking to be selected for the Canadian team at the World Equestrian Games in Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy on from September 14 to 18.
If not successful at the Millstreet Event, Cooke and Misi will head to London and compete at the Blenheim Palace Horse Trials from September 15-18.

“I’m getting more international experience competing against some of the best in the world over in Europe.” said Cooke. “It’s something that I haven’t been able to do yet since I left Merritt.”
The trip to Europe would cost about $35,000 USD, an expense Cooke understands she cannot shoulder on her own.

“As you can imagine, to fly a horse to Europe is not cheap,” Cooke explained. “I’m trying to raise money to send myself and my horse there to compete.”
Cooke and her personal team have started their ‘All roads lead to Europe’ campaign. This fundraiser aims to cover the cost of a very important trip in Cooke’s career.

There will be an online auction from April 13 to May 5. Cooke and her team are taking in pledged items from donors and will use the site 32auctions.com to hold the bidding.
Aside from this Cooke would also be hosting a benefit evet at Kingfisher Equestrian Park in North Carolina to also raise funds.

Donations are also accepted outright via Interac, Venmo, or Paypal. A portion of all the proceeds will be donated to the flood-affected people of Merritt through the Merritt Rotary Club.

“It’s just my way to give back and to contribute to the town that’s been my home,” Cooke explained. “There’s been so many people that have been supportive of me and my career so I would just like to be able to give something back.”
Being successful in this trip will get her one step closer to her ultimate goal of representing Canada at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

For more information on how to donate please email Marcia Cooper at [email protected].