There was a little gray horse who stood out in a breeder’s field in Denmark. He was too small for the adults to ride but too hot for the kids. When American Grand Prix trainer Pam Goodrich arrived at the farm in Denmark in search of her own “little spicy horse,” she was shown the 6-year-old Danish Warmblood, who happened to fit the description.
She purchased the horse, who was a keg of dynamite, and she eventually brought him up the levels through Grand Prix—but the horse’s accomplishments didn’t end there. He went on to earn awards at the North American Junior/Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC), win the Brentina Cup and earn three of Goodrich’s students their USDF gold medals. Meet Lamborghini, smartly nicknamed Zoomie: a horse small in stature who earned a big place in the hearts of those who have met him.
“‘Go’ was his first name, his second name and his third name,” recounts Goodrich, who is the trainer at Foster Meadow Farm in Boscawen, New Hampshire, and Loxahatchee, Florida. Among her long list of accomplishments, Goodrich has been teaching and training for more than 30 years and has her USDF gold medal. She has also been long- and short-listed for the United States Equestrian Team and has trained with some of the sport’s greats such as Harry Boldt, Kyra Kyrklund, Klaus Balkenhol and many others.
The 16-hand gelding by Michellino arrived at Foster Meadow Farm after his journey from Europe and proved to be hot and sensitive—but always wanted to please. Goodrich discovered he needed lots of turnout time to keep his energy level manageable. Easily bored in the stall, he always looked for something fun to do. He wanted to play with the other horses, the puppies at the farm and any people he could see. If he didn’t have something to do, he would create something to do. Some of his pastimes included removing his boots in turnout and putting every strap of the bridle in his mouth as he was tacked up.
Zoomie was too sensitive to be ridden with spurs or a whip. At first, Goodrich was the only one who rode him because of his high energy, but after he had settled in, she asked Andy Winter, a local young-horse trainer, to exercise him when she was away. Winter was about to mount with the normal attire he wore on young horses: small spurs and a jumping bat. The barn manager wisely advised him to remove the bat and spurs. After Winter’s ride he came back to the barn manager and said, “I think you saved my life!” Goodrich elaborated, “He made a Thoroughbred look dull.”
Despite the horse’s hot nature, Goodrich learned that Zoomie loved to perform. She recalled a demonstration she and Zoomie performed at the 2010 Washington International Horse Show in a stadium packed with 10,000 people. Goodrich rode him in the stadium earlier in the day to show him around, but for the evening performance there was a full crowd, spotlights and music and the schedule did not allow for a proper warm-up. Imagine Goodrich’s surprise that evening as Zoomie went right in the stadium and happily performed the whole demonstration under the lights with no mistakes.
A Young Rider’s Mount
Jocelyn Wiese was a Junior rider and student of Goodrich who was looking for a horse to compete when she moved up to Young Riders in 2005. At that time, Zoomie was competing at the Prix St. Georges level, the same level as the Young Rider tests, and was a perfect candidate because he was so competitive. He was still sensitive and sometimes tight with lots of go. “Jocelyn was as white as a sheet the first two or three times she got on him,” Goodrich said. Wiese agreed, “I was a little intimidated at first because he was so forward and sensitive, but I fell in love with him when I got to ride him. He gave me the most wonderful forward and expressive feeling.” That year she became his proud new owner.
Wiese’s relationship with Zoomie grew. She had enjoyed caring for him and watching Goodrich ride him before she bought him, but she started to develop a stronger relationship after she began riding him. They moved up the levels together and they got more confident and comfortable with each other. “Spending time with Zoomie was always the highlight of my day,” said Wiese.
As Wiese prepared for Young Rider competitions, Zoomie began to settle and relax. Goodrich continued to train him and taught him the one tempis, piaffe and passage, which had been difficult before because of his natural tension. Goodrich competed with him in his first Grand Prix in 2009. “He was on fire! Not a mistake,” she said.
During one winter in Florida, Wiese not only prepared Zoomie for the Brentina Cup, but Goodrich showed him at Grand Prix and practiced a quadrille for the Challenge of the Americas, an annual Breast Cancer Research Foundation fundraiser. “We couldn’t find the bottom of him,” Goodrich said. “He never quit. He never said no. He always said, ‘Bring it on!’”
Wiese and Zoomie won the Brentina Cup in 2009 and competed at NAJYRC, the USEF Festival of Champions, Dressage at Devon, Lendon’s Youth Dressage Festival and many other venues. “The people Zoomie allowed me to meet and the opportunities that I was given as a result are all special and have shaped the person I am today,” she said.
A New Partnership
Ali Potasky was also a student of Goodrich and had a job with Chris Hickey at Hilltop Farm in 2008, during her gap year before college. Weise was there at the same time and that is when Potasky met Zoomie. She remembers him as the “most comical and labor-intensive horse she groomed,” she said. “He was always trying to be funny and cause trouble. If I put the saddle pad on him and turned away to get the saddle, he would reach around and pull the pad off with his mouth.”
In 2011, Wiese began law school and Potasky began to ride Zoomie to keep him in work. Wiese soon realized her schedule would be too busy to continue riding. “I think I was in the right place at the right time,” Potasky said. She was thankful Wiese entrusted her with the horse and that Goodrich helped her and Zoomie develop a Grand-Prix partnership that allowed Potasky to further her career and attract sponsors, grants and training opportunities.
“When I was grooming Zoomie, my relationship with him was much less serious than when I was riding him,” Potasky said. “He is such a joker in the stable that it is hard to believe how serious of a workman he is under saddle. He is such a social horse who enjoys attention from everyone. So, whether or not I was his main rider, we always had fun together.”
Zoomie proved to be different from any horse Potasky had ridden before. He was hot but tried hard to please and was incredibly generous, ambitious and confident. If he had an audience, whether it was one or 100, he always grew a few inches and showed off.
“I will never forget my first Grand Prix,” Potasky said. “I came out of the ring in tears. My dad had to ask Pam if I was crying because I was upset or happy because he had never seen me so sentimental before. Pam just told him, ‘Give her a minute, those are tears of joy!’ They were tears of gratitude, as I had just accomplished one of my life goals.”
In 2013, Potasky rode in a clinic with Morten Thompson on Zoomie. Soon after, she moved to Denmark to work with him and his wife, Sarah, at Dressage Arvé. Potasky currently breaks in their young horses and begins their early education, warms up older horses and keeps the horses in work when he is away teaching. She has also had the opportunity to show horses in the FEI Young Horse classes and through Prix St. Georges. “I will always have an incredibly high opinion of Zoomie, and no matter what opportunities come my way, he will always be the horse who showed me how much fun riding Grand Prix can be,” said Potasky.
A Gift of Gold
When Potasky decided to move to Europe in 2013, Tracey Olsen got a call from Goodrich, her long-time instructor. Olsen had known Zoomie and Goodrich since 2002 when Olsen bought a horse from her. Olsen owns Woodbe Farm, a dressage stable on Martha’s Vineyard, and continued as Goodrich’s student. At this time, Olsen’s FEI horse was out of commission. Goodrich asked her if she had an extra stall available. “I thought maybe she had a project horse for me to ride. Then she asked me if I would like to take Zoomie and earn my USDF gold medal on him,” Olsen recalled. “I thought I was dreaming!”
Through all the years Olsen had known Zoomie, she had a feeling he was special and now she had the chance to ride him herself. She was completely star-struck when Zoomie arrived at her barn, but now he is a part of her family. Every day after school, he is spoiled by Olsen’s working student who saves her banana from lunch to share with Zoomie. He seems to enjoy the relaxed feel of Martha’s Vineyard and has become more laid back. “I have the utmost respect for him, but now I can put his celebrity status at bay and ride,” she said.
Zoomie’s expression in the ring makes it clear that he loves what he does. “The biggest thing Zoomie teaches anyone is to be passionate about something,” Olsen said. “I have never met an animal more passionate about his job than Zoomie.” Olsen has three years of experience competing Grand Prix. “I still have to pull my head back into the ride every time I canter around that arena waiting for the bell to ring because I just can’t believe I’ve been given such a gift and opportunity,” she said.
Olsen’s favorite memory was competing in the Grand Prix Freestyle at Devon under the lights in 2014. “It’s something you dream of doing your whole life,” she said. “It is an electric atmosphere and Zoomie is such a performer. He is so confident in the ring.” Olsen also took him to the USDF Nationals in 2014. “When I was going around the arena, someone told me to have fun. Pam looked at them and said, ‘You don’t have to worry about that with these two.’”
Weise remains Zoomie’s owner and she is happy that Potasky and Olsen have also had the opportunity to ride him. “They both have taken outstanding care of him, and I know that he is happy to teach them the ropes and continue to be out competing,” she said.
Goodrich has remained involved in Zoomie’s training with each rider during his career, which is a testament to her training. “He changed from the superstar to the professor, which has been a delight because now he is the superstar professor,” she said. Zoomie is 19 years old this year and is still as “sound as a whistle.” He hates having more than one day off a week and he gets nervous if the horse trailer leaves without him. The 2015 Palm Beach Derby was Zoomie’s 60th Grand Prix, and Olsen rode him to a score over 69 percent. He may just be the horse of a lifetime.