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Cora Kwiatkowski: I compete in showjumping events

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Stride Treglown senior associate Cora Kwiatkowski on her other life in showjumping

I was always the pony-mad girl. All I wanted to do was ride horses and be around them. All the time through school and during my studies I rode several horses every day – including some belonging to international riders – and showjumped as much as they would let me.

Riding is an elemental part of my life, although it means juggling deadlines, long hours and family with seeing my two horses every day, often resulting in late evenings or very early mornings.

I also compete most weekends – showjumping with my horse, Paul, and showing with my Shetland pony, Proby, around the South West. In the summer, some of my holidays are spent with the pony at the national shows he qualifies for.

Both horses have been successful over the years, regularly winning their classes, including ‘Best Shetland Pony’ at an international show. In showjumping I am often up against professional contestants, which makes me feel part of their ‘gang’.

Being around horses, often outside in all weathers, is absolutely different from my cushioned office life but it helps me switch off from problems. My only focus has to be on the horse, as in showjumping there is no room for errors – knocking a pole down cannot be reversed. I love the adrenaline rush, the precision required, the mental challenge and the special connection with the horses.

I chose to become an architect to be creative, design amazing spaces and resolve complex briefs. My approach to successful projects has become similar to working with horses; you need to earn respect and work as a team. When dealing with an animal weighing 600kg, you will automatically become assertive and are able to make quick decisions.

So, I have two lives – but not so different after all and each complements the other. 

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