Maintaining the legacy at Team Two Mills in Willaston

PUBLISHED: 15:56 12 June 2015 | UPDATED: 19:27 18 April 2016

Adele Plant and Jemma Coburn with 'Cruise Control' at Team Two Mills, Willaston

Adele Plant and Jemma Coburn with 'Cruise Control' at Team Two Mills, Willaston


After the loss of a dear friend and mentor, Jemma Coburn and Adele Plant were determined to carry on a Willaston equestrian business in his memory

Mike riding Two Mills Playboy and winning the advanced Medium Class at the National ChampionshipsMike riding Two Mills Playboy and winning the advanced Medium Class at the National Championships

‘All my life, I just wanted to be was a show jumper,’ said Jemma Coburn. ‘It was worth it to work and work, nothing else mattered.’ The 31-year-old achieved her dream with the help of her mentor and best friend Mike Jones, who formed Team Two Mills over 30 years ago, producing elite competition horses.

‘From the age of 17, I worked with Mike as a trainee pupil at a yard in Puddington and also worked night shifts at a nursing home and with adults with autism,’ explained Jemma, who lives in Oxton. ‘I was so tired when I arrived at the yard but I was determined to do it. Mike took me everywhere with him and taught me everything I know.’

Jemma Coburn riding at the British Masters 3 International Show at Southview 2012Jemma Coburn riding at the British Masters 3 International Show at Southview 2012

With Mike’s assistance, Jemma worked her way from British novice level up to Grand Prix and learnt how to produce top quality dressage horses. Once established in the industry, she bought her own yard but remained firm friends with Mike, a former male catwalk model whose passion for horses outgrew his love for the runway. The pair couldn’t be apart for long and rejoined in 2005 at Mike’s yard in Thornton Hough, working together until he passed away from Leukaemia in 2010 aged 48.

‘I loved working with him; it was more than just a business,’ she said. ‘We even lived together at one point. He was my best friend, trainer – everything.’

After Mike died, Jemma let the two lots out as she couldn’t bear to be around them without him. ‘I had dealt with clients and horses and Mike had been in charge of the affairs and finance, so I wouldn’t have even known how to deal with those aspects of the business.’

However, 18 months ago Team Two Mills restarted in Willaston. Jemma paired up with Adele Plant, a rider and trainer she had been friends with since Adele bought her horse, Jackson, aged 14 at Jemma’s yard. ‘From then I worked after school and of a weekend helping Jemma,’ said Adele, 25, who lives in Little Neston. ‘When I reached 16, I left school and started to work with them both fulltime for two years.’

Adele then left Two Mills and worked in floristry for a few years before being approached by Jemma after Mike had passed away. ‘I missed Mike and missed working with someone,’ said Jemma. ‘Adele knew the situation as she had worked with us before and understood that I needed to keep Two Mills running, to carry on Mike’s name and work in honour of his memory, continuing to produce elite competition horses.’

The duo’s yard in Willaston, next to Adele’s family home, is home to 14 horses which have been carefully selected for their breeding, attitude, temperament and quality. Imported directly from stud yards in Germany and Holland, many of the horses trained, including Mike’s Two Mills Showtime and Two Mills Playboy, have gone onto win national and international competitions.

‘In 2009, Mike was able to become national Champion with Two Mills Playboy,’ said Jemma. ‘The next stage for Playboy was to go to Grand Prix level, but tragically Mike had lost his battle with leukaemia. However Mike would be pleased to know that Playboy did go on to ride at a Grand Prix level with Anna Davie and is still competing to this day.’

Both Jemma and Adele strive to keep Team Two Mills performing to the same level that Mike always managed through hard work to attain. ‘Adele is my best friend,’ said Jemma. ‘Joining forces was the best thing we have ever done. She’s great as since having my little boy Ted, I can’t work as much on the yard. Adele is really hands on and does a lot of work on the floor with the horses, working them all the way up to international level.’

The pair still regularly compete on the national competition circuit themselves, as well as training horses to sell at their yard, going to shows, breeders’ yards and visiting customers. ‘We also act as agents for international clients too, putting together a week of visiting yards to view horses,’ said Adele.

‘In the future, we would like to expand. However at the moment, the yard is really nice and has a lovely atmosphere where we can produce top quality amateur, competition, dressage, jumping and event horses,’ said Jemma. ‘We know Mike would be proud of the success we have achieved since his passing. All we wanted to do was maintain what he did, full of fun and high quality. Life is too short.’

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