Cooper reins supreme

HORSE SENSE: Cooper Dabin at the miniature horse national championships over Easter. The Cootamunrda six-year-old put up a remarkable performance at the event. Photo: Luke DabinIT’S a big story about a miniature horse and its tiny owner.
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When six-year-old CooperDabinlined up as a handlerin the Miniature Horse Association of Australia national championships over Easter, he was the only child in the open class category.

What happened next was extraordinary.

Leading his trusty charge Sedona through the obstacle course, the Cootamundra kindy student showed maturity beyond his years, emerging with a third-placeribbon against the adults in his first competition.

His performance in the junior classes was just as stunning, walking away with four national titles including the Grand National Champion for overall junior performance.

His beaming mum Sarah Dabin said the results were a testament to Cooper’s hard work and the remarkable relationship he had forged with his horse.

“He’s been working with these horses from two years of age and we’re very proud of him,” Mrs Dabin said.

“He trains his horse by himself and was out there every day for the six weeks before the nationals.”

The family owns Mylora Miniatures, a boutique miniature horse stud in Cootamundra.

Cooper has now set his sights on representing Australia at the upcoming Trans-Tasman challenge.

“He’s very keen to make the team,” Mrs Dabin said.

The middle of three children, Cooper performed in front of a packed grandstand at the nationals, which was held in the same arena as equine events during the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Mrs Dabin said what miniature horses lacked in size, they made up for in moxy.

“Some are placid and others bounce around but they’re all great to work with,” she said.“They’re just great horses.”

The stud has 10 miniatures and one stallion, she said.The horses stand to an average of about 36 inches from the hoof to the wither.They can’t be ridden and don’t require breaking in, with competitors at the nationals leading them over jumps and through obstacle courses.

For this reason they are often kept as family pets, though they still retain naturalhorse behavior, including a naturalfight or flightinstinct, and must be treated like an equine, even if they are kept as companion animals.

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