How Grand Prix Rider Jim Koford Chooses a Horse
WHAT DOES A GRAND PRIX RIDER LOOK FOR
IN A DRESSAGE PROSPECT?
We recently sat down with BioStar sponsored rider Jim Koford to talk about the joys of horse shopping and find out what he looks for in a new prospect, as well as how he is building toward the future with some of his new horses.
“If I’m looking at a horse for me, I can’t look at a video and say, ‘this is the one!’ Some people have that gift, I just don’t. For me it is all about an emotional connection and it has to have a loose back and be good in the connection. I don’t buy a horse and say, ‘this is a horse with this specific goal,’ either. I get them and then I sit on them and see if their personality makes me feel good and if riding them makes me happy. Just like when you meet someone and connect with them and you think to yourself, ‘I want you to be my friend!’
So for example, one mare that I got, we are now doing jumpers and some eventing with her as well. She thought dressage was okay, but thinks that this is a lot more fun! And that is okay! If that is what she wants to do, that is what we do. So it is really sort of helping me diversify and keep things interesting. If I didn’t buy a horse who just happens to like to jump, then I wouldn’t get to explore that. You can just tell that she thinks jumping is so much fun and if your horse thinks that it is so much fun, then it is fun! That is what you hope for. It makes it fun to spend a day at the horse show with a horse that you like to ride and like to hang out with. So when I am picking out a young horse I want a good back, good connection and a horse that is just fun to be with and who wants to be with you. A horse who thinks the highlight of their day is when I say, ‘let’s go for a ride’ and they are psyched!
I also tend to be a sucker for older horses. My dressage mare Adeline, for example, was ten when I bought her. I don’t really care for animals, horses, dogs or kids, while they are going through puberty. So once they are past that, then we are all adults and we sort of know what they like and what they don’t like. It is fun to sort of discover a horse who is a little bit under-performing due to their age because I would hate to see talent like this slip through the cracks.
I have a whole barn full of horses with a little age on them. Yes, it’s much more productive to buy young horses and sell them with potential, but I’m a horrible business person. I just ride the horses that I like to ride.
Just like with Adiah, my previous horse, I didn’t get her and think to myself, ‘I am riding you so I can do Friday Night Lights at Global.’ I got her and thought to myself, ‘you are just so much fun, I don’t care what we do. Let’s just do it together!’ And that is how I feel about this mare.
(Special thanks to Jim Koford, and Emma Miller for the photos)
Jim Koford’s favorite BioStar product is Thera Calm EQ, a special formula designed to support a healthy GI tract and help horses focus and relax. This formula provides Haritaki, Ashwaganda, and Casein to help normalize cortisol levels brought on by stress.