arl Cook and Kaley Cuoco – aka, ‘The Cooks,’ since their spectacular nuptials earlier this year – are two of the equestrian world’s shining stars at the moment. Not just for their impressive rides – although, Karl has been climbing the ranks on the grand prix circuit, and Kaley has been consistent and strong on her string of amateur jumpers – but also for the fun, lightness, and personality that the pair brings to an otherwise traditional landscape. Make no mistake, ‘The Cooks’ are dedicated horsemen, taking extreme care in the wellbeing, training, and performance of their respective horses, but they also remember that this sport is supposed to be fun, and never does that shine through more than when the couple is together.
We spent the day at Karl’s Pomponio Ranch in Rancho Santa Fe, CA, where he trains with Olympic veteran Eric Navet, earlier this fall and got the full tour with the help of Kaley, two rescued dwarf ponies, and a whole lot of dogs. While the barn is stunning, the horses are incredibly healthy and happy, and the staff clearly takes an extreme level of pride in the care of the animals and property, nothing stands out quite as much as the undeniable connection between the two riders. From well-crafted witticisms to swiftly slung sarcasm (with a few tender moments mixed in), their relationship is definitely a unique one, and one we’re so very on board with.
Here are five unexpected things we learned from our day with Karl and Kaley:
1. Karl isn’t a ‘just show up and ride’ kind of dude. He’s heavily involved in every single thing that happens at Pomponio Ranch, from designing the one of a kind underground sustainable watering system in the ring to building the perfect bank, to creating each horse’s feed plan. Listening to him chat with different team members, you’d swear the guy is secretly an engineer – he’s that involved.
2. Kaley put her wedding dress on in the feed room, literally between buckets of grain and soaking beet pulp. She showed us where she put on the now famous gown and cape combo – once on, she walked down the barn aisle in lieu of a traditional wedding aisle (she even had her own personal horses brought to Karl’s barn for the occasion).
3. Cooking is a huge part of life for The Cooks. Karl is a master in the kitchen, cooking up gourmet meals for Kaley on the regular. He even has an herb garden growing on the side of the arena so that he can add fresh herbs to the dishes. Fun fact: Karl whips up some amazing meat dishes for friends and family, but he’s all veggie.
4. The couple met at HITS Coachella in Thermal, CA and initially, neither of them was that into it. Both were focused on the horse show, and when a mutual friend introduced them, they both shrugged it off. Then Karl had a pull to maybe give it another go, and hopped on his mini-bike to bring a glass of champagne to Kaley in her barn aisle. Unfortunately, she hates champagne, but needless to say, the rest is history.
5. Riding is a huge part of life for both Karl and Kaley, but they keep things separate. Their horses are based at different barns, they have their own programs and trainers, and they keep things clear at the shows – when it comes to showing, they’re just there to be a supportive spouse, no backseat coaching allowed (Kaley says this is a little hard for Karl, but he’s gotten the hang of it).
Experience the full stable tour of Karl's Pomponio Ranch:
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