The Team - People

Chris Cooke - Owner and Trainer of The Peep Out Stables

Chris started riding horses as a boy of 11 growing up in the Carribean island of St Croix.

He learned to ride alongside all the other local lads on ponies, bareback with a bridle made of rope. This explains a great deal about the relaxed feel and laid back atmosphere you’ll find at The Peep Out.

Chris says ‘Round the world they do it differently’ and so does Chris, picking the best bits from many diverse cultural ways of working with horses and mixing it up a bit.

On arriving in Britain, he found work as a carpenter, but when after building a farm stable, the farmer asked him to ride his horse back to St Ives for him, Chris remembered what he should be doing, working with horses!

In 1984 Chris was taught to drive a carriage at the old Shire Farm in St Ives. He gained more experience in training and driving when working with the horses and running the horse parades at Trereife Park. From there he set up with his own horses, offering carriage rides in Penzance.

25yrs ago, Chris rented some fields with a stream and woodland for grazing and after a few weeks discovered a derelict property in the woods. He bought it and this is now ‘The Peep Out’ as we know and love it. From here, he has built up the Peep Out herd and an amazing reputation for training, riding and driving and offering a whole variety of unusual horse experiences, from swimming in the sea to moon lit rides on the beach.

Shelley Claxton - Swim Team and Marketing Manager

I’ve always been involved with horses since a young girl, when my dad swapped building a shed for a farmer for a 16 month old colt and an amazing learning curve began.

I’ve been riding horses at The Peep Out now for over 15 years and started working on the Swim Team 5 years ago. I now manage the bookings as well as helping to run the swims and run "Back in the Saddle", a programme that helps build confidence in riders.

 I live a mile up the road in a straw bale house built by my partner Luke and myself, where we live with our 3 boys.

I’m also a drama teacher with 30 years experience of teaching.

After swims, people often look at me and say, ‘You’ve got my dream job” and I feel very lucky to say that I feel the same way.

Known to us all as Swifty has been part of the furniture at The Peep Out for many years. His travels and tales of horse riding around the world feed into his work with us but also provide us with great stories on our hacks.

He also likes to turn up at The Peep Out if ever there’s a good campfire going with his guitar and serenades us all country style.

I started riding at the age of 3. When I got older i became involved in handling and training young horses.

I am currently studying a BAhons degree in Press and Editorial Photography at Falmouth University. I contacted Cornwall Swimming Horses to see if I could cover a story on them, as they offer a unique riding experience that I thought would be really fun and interesting to cover.

After spending time with the swimming gang, they offered me this great opportunity to get involved and become part of the team.

Chris invited me to come swimming with horses 3 seasons ago. I must admit I was slightly apprehensive, however those feelings soon drifted away due to all the safety measures that are in place. Swimming with horses is such a magical experience, the backdrop of the mount just adds to the fairytale. Being in the water, I feel so confident on horseback and I can honestly say it’s the best thing I’ve ever done with horses.

Chris has even trained my horse to swim too. From that day I’ve continued to join the swim team whenever they need help.

I have been learning how to be around horses for many years at the Peep Out and, for me, riding is just one of the fringe benefits of this holistic experience.

I enjoy working with horses for the peaceful concentration it necessitates and the way that it has taught me so much about human emotion and interaction, as well as the horses themselves. I find horses fascinating because they reflect to us our true state of being, forcing us to confront ourselves in a way I can compare to no other experience.

Besides all of these profundities, however, there is the undeniable truth that playing with horses is just FUN. And what better way to incorporate the spiritual, the joyous and the downright silly, than taking horses to swim in Mounts Bay?... No words could do justice to the practice - participation is a must!