He has been called ‘hunter guru’ and ‘derby whisperer’ on the circuit – both terms this modest rider would likely disagree with, but hard-working Kristjan Good of Campbellville, ON, has earned the monikers nonetheless. His success in the show ring in recent years has been phenomenal, and now his students at Kristjan Good Show Stables are pulling in the ribbons as well.
Kristjan got his start as a kid by tailing after his mother, Wendy, when she went to the barn. One ride led to another and he was soon knee-deep in the business. “I started at Touch ‘N’ Go Farms with Jane Casselman and worked at the sale barn with her there. That’s where I started my junior years,” he recalls. “My first start on the ‘A’ circuit was with Mark Hayes, but I always went back to Jane – she was like that ‘home’ feeling. When I turned eighteen, I turned professional right away, but then I went down to Florida as a working student and was back and forth until I was about twenty-five, working for different people in the States including Larry Glefke and Kelley Farmer.” Around this time he also did a two-month stint in Europe with Tjeert Rijkens in Germany. “That was an experience. It was a lot of fun,” he said, admitting that the different riding style at the sale barns in Europe took him by surprise. “The first two days I got run away with on everything! I ride totally differently and it took me a while to figure it out.”
Back on home soil, “I had some personal things happen and took a break from horses for three months to reset. After that I went at it full force again; I just had to kind of refresh.” His first big win was the Canadian Hunter Derby at the Orangeville Show Jumping Tournament in 2015 aboard Stephanie Mackie’s Bally Sea.
Surprisingly, despite all his success (or perhaps because of it), Kristjan does not own any horses of his own. He explained, “It’s good for me, because I feel like if I owned one it would be put last all the time. I mostly catch-ride and I do a lot of freelance. My home base is Rougemont in Puslinch. It is a really beautiful place, a small barn, where my mom and her friends are. I have some there to train, two to
three at a time, and I travel around the
rest of the time.”
While plenty of other Canadians flocked south to Florida in January, Good, who was named the Angelstone 2018 Circuit Trainer of the Year runner-up, stayed home this year. “I have a lot of young horses and clients at home, and I feel that my business is picking up and I should just stay put and see what happens this year. Maybe the five-year-plan could be to go to somewhere like Thermal. I’ve never been there,” he said, adding that the California vibe sounds appealing.
Kristjan’s plans for 2019 include stepping into the jumper ring more often. “I don’t do a lot of jumpers,” he said, admitting that he does loves the adrenaline. “Diamo’s going to start this year in the jumpers; I won the six-year-olds on Salvo, I do those types of classes, but I’d say I’m still a rookie at it. I kind of hunt around.”
Other goals include “Keep promoting the young ones and just letting the business grow. I’m kind of an on-the-flow kind of guy, so when opportunities present themselves I jump at them. I’m very lucky that way to have things coming my way. I’m very patient about it.” He added, “I also don’t believe in advertising myself; if people want you, they will find you.”