Each week on #HallOfFameThursday, Horse Network recognizes members of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame with an inductee’s plaque, historical photos and, on the first Thursday of every month, an article written by a Show Jumping Hall of Famer. This week, we recognize Jet Run, Show Jumping Hall of Fame class of 1996, with a story by Karen Golding. (Class of 2007)
Jet Run was a special part of my life.
I met him as a skinny three-year-old and was there with him when he was put down at the age of 28. He did have other caretakers in his life, but I was his longest caretaker spanning a period of over 12 years. I guess we grew up together, and life was never dull with Jet.
We were pals. I would teach him tricks, play with him in the paddocks and he would follow me around like a dog. He wasn’t the friendliest with other horses, but he loved dogs and was very attached to people.
Jet was bred to be a racehorse, but he had other ideas. I believe he actually came dead-last in seven races. When he was introduced to the jumping ring, you could see how much he loved it and that he’d found his forte. He was just six years old when he won his first grand prix, and his career escalated from there.
He had numerous victories, titles and medals under several top riders before he retired at age 16, but he achieved his greatest success with Michael Matz with whom he had an especially close relationship. Once they were paired, the two really blossomed together. He loved to win and he loved the attention it brought him in the winner’s circle.
Jet always knew the day was special when he was braided, and he couldn’t wait to perform. He could be a brat at the ring and would buck and play, but he’d never pull against me. I’d stand him there for hours just to get him bored. And he was a ham—he loved the camera and he would stop and pose if he heard even one click.
He was brilliant in the show ring, but was a bad traveler so I ended up in the back of the truck with him a lot. Jet would throw a fit if I wasn’t back there with him. We built a special stall for him with a door in the front so he could just lean on it and be tied on one side; then he would travel fine. If there was no door, there was no peace. He would damage himself—and the truck. Of course Jet’s traveling issues made flying very difficult. The first time he flew, they had to land the plane fast, as he had broken out of his crate and was loose on the plane!
Jet loved to get dirty and was famous for it. One particularly memorable moment was at the 1978 World Championships in Aachen, Germany, where Jet and Michael made it into the Final Four. He was all tacked up and ready to go into the ring. I let him loose in the stall to go to the bathroom and down he went, rolling with tack and all! Talk about teamwork—riders and grooms all jumped in to give me a hand and help me clean him up quickly. The only problem was that it wasn’t straw or shavings, but peat moss! He was quite proud of himself. But we got the job done, and he and Michael wound up winning the individual bronze medal.
Jet was the focal point of a true Hall of Fame team. He was inducted first (1996), his rider Michael Matz followed (2005), I was third (2007), his trainer Jerry Baker was fourth (2012), and his owner, Mr. Fitz Eugene Dixon, was fifth (2014). His stablemate “For the Moment” was also inducted (2005). It really is a singular achievement to have so many from one farm and so much of what we had centered around Jet. I was truly fortunate to have been part of such a great team and I feel incredibly lucky to have had Jet Run in my life.
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About the Author
Karen Golding’s care of some of this country’s top horses impacted the success of American show jumpers for over 30 years. Born in England, (she became a U.S. citizen in 2004), Karen attended every Olympics from 1976 through 2000, except for 1984, in addition to numerous Pan Am Games, World Championships and World Cup Finals. Some of the great horses that came under her care included Springdale, Jet Run, Mighty Ruler, Grande, Sandor, Chef, Rhum IV, Bon Retour, Heisman and Judgement.