For certain over the past year the name Tiggy Hancock has been avidly spoken about in every equestrian household in Ireland and the UK. This bright young star was sadly taken from us way too soon in a riding accident while cross-country training for the pony High-Performance squad at the age of just 15 years. Tiggy was known for her fantastic achievements in both the Eventing and Working Hunter world, while also dabbling with some SJI. A true all-rounder in my opinion.
I can say that I was truly lucky enough to have known Tiggy personally, having worked for The Hancock Family for a little under 3 years. When I arrived at Corries Stables and met Tiggy for the first time I was embraced by a little 9-year-old girl with the biggest smile, the sweetest little laugh and a never-ending abundance of energy, similar to that of a Duracell bunny. The love Tiggy had for her ponies was almost indescribable, she brought out the best in everything she sat on.
It was while in Corries I got my first real taste of proper show life and international shows, where we travelled over to the UK to Grantham and Horse of the Year Show in Birmingham. The feeling I got when we won classes was just spectacular and made the long days so worthwhile. But what I loved most about Tiggy is she never let that get to her head and that’s what was so special. She was always the type of person to lend a hand or walk a course with other kids and give them some encouragement and tips.
We had some wicked adventures in the few short years we worked together. We produced an I Love You Melody Connemara mare, coincidentally called ‘Melody’, who brought us so much fun. From her first working hunter show, to SJI and chasing after her as she loose jumped herself out of the fields. There was never a dull moment in our yard.
But it wasn’t just the ponies. Tiggy was also a friend to me. When not working we would spend the evenings sitting on the couch or in the kitchen playing games on my phone or playing with slime and the dogs. Behind the horses, Tigs was still that happy go lucky little kid who enjoyed doing other things. I just loved her company and the brightness she filled every room with when she was there.
Although I left before Tiggy started Eventing, I always kept in contact with her through social media, catching up with her and the ponies and all the plans she had coming up. When she sent me a message before it was officially announced that she had made the European team I could not contain my excitement. I felt so proud of her and all the hard work she had put in had paid off and when she brought home, a medal there were tears in my eyes. I knew Tiggy was going places. She was a very special girl.
Following Tiggy’s passing, ‘Tiggy’s Trust’ was founded in her memory. It is a non-profit organisation established to provide Mental Health, Training and Educational Support to children in the Equestrian Industry. Tiggy knew how fortunate she was to have the ponies and opportunities she was given and I’m sure she would love for others to also have those opportunities like the trust is giving. The foundation has had some fantastic responses from people around the world and has some amazing ambassadors such as Rachael Blackmore who as we all know has been a pivotal figure for female empowerment in the Equine Industry.
In the week succeeding her passing, Irish Athletes who were based around the world started wearing yellow ribbons and arm bands in solidarity for Tiggy while competing. In showjumping Tiggy always looked up to Marcus Ehning. I reckon she probably watched every round he ever did that’s on YouTube. When I went abroad, I told her I’d get her his autograph if I met him at a show. Unfortunately, it never happened, however with some help I got him to wear a yellow armband while competing at the nation's cup in Poland where they took home gold. Even though in person Tiggy never got to see it, I believe she was watching that day.
Tigs was just a genuinely kind girl inside and out and filled her life with so much positivity and happiness that I think we could all learn a lot from. She found positives in everything she did, even if things weren’t going great. I mainly saw this during rounds of jumping where a pony might have been having a bad day. Tiggy would always without fail, pat the pony and leave with a smile on her face. It wasn’t always about winning but doing the best you could in that particular moment. I firmly believe I learned a lot from her even though I might have been 12 years older.
Tigs for sure packed more into her 15 years on this planet than most of us folks would do in a lifetime. She lived life to the full and did everything that made her happy and left behind a legacy that will last forever.
“A mighty flame follows a tiny spark” – Tiggys Trust