New Life as a Light Horse

21 April 2021 Written by VRC

There are many options for careers for thoroughbreds when they retire from the track, but the role of light horse in a troop is one of the lesser-known ones.

When Tim Goodes was a clerk of the course in Naracoorte and picked up a fallen jockey on track, he wouldn’t have dreamed that 12 months later he would be the owner of the wayward horse, breaking him in for a Light Horse Troop. “The horse, Jock, raced as Strategic Glass and was trained by Sue Jaensch. He earned a nice sum of $90,900 with 26 starts, including six wins, four seconds and three thirds, before retiring due to some bowed tendons. I was looking for a new horse and Jock came along.”

It was a fortuitous match for Goodes, a seasoned horseman who was “born on a horse” and has ridden them all his life. With a showjumping background, he was asked to be part of the Naracoorte Light Horse Troop when it was formed in 2013. “It was something totally new for me, and opened my eyes to so much about our history.”

Wearing replica wartime gear, the troop performs drills for a variety of audiences, with ANZAC Day events obviously very popular. “We reenact the actions and feats that took place in war, such as dismounting for action or tent-pegging. We also demonstrate riding abreast in a group of four, where three dismount and one holds the reins of all four horses. In the war, the three soldiers on foot would fight the enemy before mounting their horse to escape.”

All of this requires great horsemanship skills, not to mention a great horse. How did Jock transition from the track to this role? “He is like a Shetland Pony in a thoroughbred’s body,” laughed Goodes. “He does whatever I want him to do, and doesn’t have a mean bone. My daughter who has Down syndrome rides him all the time and loves him.” Goodes did need to retrain him to slow down as, coming from a galloping background, Jock was keen to walk fast. “I had to train him to relax. Now he walks on a loose lead and will halt immediately.”

A highlight for Goodes and Jock thus far has been competing in a Light Horse ten-pegging competition at the Jericho Cup. “I had only had Jock for nine months and it was his first Light Horse competition. I had to get him used to a lance for tent pegging. I am left-handed and all light horse activities are done right-handed, so I had to learn to be right-handed while teaching Jock to tent peg! It took five months and was very challenging. On the day of the competition I didn't have any expectations, but I managed to get three out of five pegs with the lance, and four out of five pegs with the sword.”

As for Goodes’ next challenge? “I recently acquired a brumby that I am going to break in. At the moment I can’t get near him, only my wife can, but once we have formed that bond and he is tame, I know that he will pretty much be a friend for life.”