Kihikihi pays tribute to Peter Cox >>

Kihikihi pays tribute to Peter Cox >>
It is with great sadness that we learned of the death of Peter Cox on Friday 10th February 2012 at Auckland Hospital after a short illness.

Peter had a huge impact on the development of the sport of Eventing in New Zealand. Peter and Judy farmed south of Putaruru at Lichfield, on the family farm known as “The Crossing”. Their enthusiasm for horses was fuelled by lessons with the well known Putaruru equestrian Beth Fife. For years Beth had eyed up “The Crossing” as an ideal location for a horse trial and when Pete and Judy agreed to her proposal Peter threw himself into the project with his usual enthusiasm and foresight. With his tight team of Judy, Beth and Lorna and David Boyce he enlisted support from other equestrian enthusiasts and also involved the local community. One of his novel approaches to fundraising for the project was to organise a hugely successful Medieval Tournament at the Lichfield Domain. There was no limit to his ability to improvise, problem solve and adapt to make things happen, usually in unorthodox ways. He had a “just do it attitude”. With hard work from a band of dedicated volunteers, a much lauded new Horse Trial venue was set up at “The Crossing" in 1986.

The inaugural trial started with a flourish and featured a top line-up of International riders from Australia (Wayne and Vicky Roycroft, Scott Keach), Great Britain (Mary Orchard, Anne Marie Taylor, Polly Schwerdt), Sweden (Eric Durvander) plus New Zealand’s Nicoli Fife, Carol Harrison. Vicky Hammond, Mary Darby, Joanne Bridgeman, Tinks Pottinger, Trudy Boyce, Merran Hain, Andrew Scott, Blyth Tait, Susan Tomlin and Vaughn Jefferis. This line up of stars set the tone for what was to be a special event at a very special venue and heralded a new level of competence in horse trial event management for New Zealand.

And so began Peter’s involvement with horse trials. “The Crossing” Horse Trial soon became the prestige horse trial that all the riders wanted to compete at. The competition was fierce but the event was also always fun. For the next ten years graded events were held each spring and autumn plus training trials, all with huge (often 300 plus) entries. It hosted the National One Day Championships and in its day featured the best One Day Advanced Cross Country Course. Peter kept improving facilities such as the toilet-shower block, a rarity for the sport in those days and a huge improvement on the “old dunny-no shower”. Peter also generously allowed private schooling in between trials, as well as many instruction clinics and Pony Club. At times his farm was more of an equestrian park with his stock being constantly jiggled around to suit the equestrian needs.

Peter loved to entertain and was a very confident and articulate speaker, particularly on a microphone where his sense of humour shone, usually presenting with a deadpan expression followed by an almost shy smile. His voice was heard regularly on the airways both at “The Crossing” and the National Three Day Event at Taupo and it paid to listen or else you would miss the funny remark.

He worked in many roles for horse trials including Chairman and was a Show Jump Judge. For many years he was also the producer of the Waikato Horse Trial Group's Newsletter, a great outlet for his artistic talent. Each month he would include a cartoon, usually about some humorous incident in the horse world. These cartoons were always funny but never hurtful and people would open the newsletter and look at the cartoon first. Then there were his stories and the poems, also clever, quirky, insightful and funny. His cartoon booklet on etiquette for horse trial riders is legendary as it informed the riders in a light hearted way how to behave at a horse trial.

Just as “The Crossing” started with a hiss and roar, it also finished with a spectacular stage show and closing down party in 1996. And from the ashes of this great venue was born the sparks of its successor, the Kihikihi Horse Trial. “The Crossing” is still fondly remembered and respected by all who rode there. We are all indebted to Peter Cox for his vision, his volunteer efforts and the generous use of his beautiful property. He will be fondly remembered for his quirkiness, his foresight and intellect, his artistry and his dry laconic sense of humour.

Peter is survived by his wife Judy. Our thoughts are with Judy at this sad time, especially being so close to the 22nd anniversary of the death of their beloved son Danny.

By: Cathy Houlbrooke 12/02/12

Date Added: Sunday, 12th February 2012